Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saying good bye to a Friend..

Death is just one of those things that most people don't want to talk about or accept, but as the circle of life must go on, in the end everything has mortality. When the facts are right in front of you, then why is it so hard to accept that possibility. My thought? Love. To love someone or something, it is very hard to let go of that bond you had. And for some it is even harder when you don't quite connect with the emotions that are behind the love you or they had for someone or something that has died.

Last week we had to say goodbye to one of our dogs. She wasn't an old pup. She was 7. While her death hit me like a ton of bricks and still does, I worried more about how her death would impact my children. We had gotten her as a puppy and at that time we where in the process of getting my daughter diagnosed with Autism after a very long battle with her PCM and my husband being deployed in Iraq. The puppy was a welcomed joy within our house. While my eldest had the curiosity of neurotypical 5 year old, my daughter, who at the time was non verbal saw this puppy as something completely different. Here was this little animal that was bouncing around playfully, barking and being silly, that was so out of my daughter's norm, she didn't know what to make of it.At first she would follow the dog around and the dog would follow her around. But since she didn't have the voice to vocalize her feelings towards to the dog, she just sat back observed. Something she still does quite well. As for the dog, well she was getting used to her new family as well. There were moments between the barking and playing where little girl and little dog would have their bonding. Just sitting and watching the world do it's thing. When we finally got my daughter into the services and programs she needed, we started to hear words come out of her mouth. Slowly and surely, she was able to call the dog by her name. Mojo. She lit up like a Christmas tree when the dog came to her when she called out her name. Thus became the relationship the little girl had with her dog. Through out the 7 years of Mojo's life, we have added a few to our family. Another dog for Mojo and another sibling for Little Miss. Mojo was happy to have another furry companion added to our pack just as we were all happy to have another baby in our family. In a few short years we would come to learn that our youngest, would have special needs of his own. Mojo, with her gentle nature was there as a calming force. She didn't mind that the kids stimmed around her. When my youngest would get over excited about something, she was there beside to help him with his sensory overload. In a way, she was our own little therapy dog. No she wasn't formally trained, but she had the instincts to know when she was needed to calm things.

It's been a week since her death, while our other dog had gotten used to his bud not being around and my eldest is also getting used to her not being here, my other two are going through their own way of grieving. Little Miss, who doesn't talk much when it comes to relating to emotions, grieves with questions. While we have had many conversations about death and what happens after something had died, everyday we are met with the same questions over and over again. She didn't get upset like my eldest, but she had noted that Mojo isn't here anymore and that her friend is gone. As for my youngest, he knows there is only one tail to get excited about instead of two. I have noticed that instead of screaming "PUPPIES" when seeing the other dog, he just yells excitedly, "PUPPY" and taps the other dog gently on the head. This goes to show we all grieve in our way. We all express our feelings differently. Autism or not.

The kids picked out a picture they all liked of Mojo and put it in a frame, that now sits on a table with grandparents and relatives that since passed on. I have always told them, that the best way to remember someone or something they loved that has passed on, was to treasure the good memories they had with that person or thing. Keeping the memories alive in their hearts, keeps the spirit alive.

It is remarkable on just how much impact a little dog could have on our family. We have been a bit lost without her, but in time I know we will find our way, just as she is finding her way on the Rainbow Road. 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Art of Shaming.

It seems that nowadays you can't walk out your front door without getting shamed for just about any aspect of your life.

Its the public shaming that hits home for me. I use myself as an example as I make up a good percentage of those who do follow me. I am a mother of special needs children, a wife of a serviceman and I am indeed a woman. Not saying that men don't have their own brand of public shaming, they do, but let's face it, for a woman, there is a good chance that anytime we walk out our front door we will be publicly shamed for any aspect of our lives.

I am going to break this down into the three areas I stated above.

Let's start with my parenting. Mom shaming. We are all so critical of other parents when it comes to different parenting styles. Since I started writing, I have noticed the appalling number of pages, blogs and websites devoted to putting other mothers down. If you don't breastfeed, you are doing it wrong. If you do breastfeed, you are sending the wrong message out. If you decided to circumcise your sons, you are a monster and if you don't you are setting your son up for an unclean penis. If you vaccinate your child, you are accused of child abuse because you are injecting "poison" into your child or if you choose not vaccinate your child, you are seen as uneducated. The trick for me isn't the online onslaught of mom shaming. Its the stuff that gets said to you in public. And the funny thing is, all of the stuff that is said to me, a woman in public, is never said to my husband. Another Dad will not go up to another Dad and tell him that he is doing the whole parenting thing wrong. Mothers, for the most part do a good percentage of the child rearing within the house. It doesn't matter how tired a mother can be or how much she is trying to parent her children in public, she will always get the unsolicited advice or the shameful comments about her parenting in that one minute she is out. But I have yet to hear from my husband that anyone has said anything to him about his autistic son and his stimming while out in public.

Wife. Now, I am a Navy Spouse, a Military spouse. Let's talk about all the wonderful things that get said about Military spouses. Or as some call us "Dependas" I have been married to my husband for 13 years. In those 13 years, he has been deployed for more than half of our marriage. In those 13 years, I have never once thought about looking outside our marriage.However, the insinuation is always there.

"Oh, you are a military spouse? Deployments must be hard. How do you remain faithful?"

Excuse me? How do I remain faithful? Its called marriage vows. Y'know those words that were spoken in front of a Registrar, that are legal and binding? And oh, maybe, I actually love my husband enough not to cheat on him. But that is the type of questions I get when I state that I am military spouse. Or in some cases, I get accused of cheating on my husband by others who can't respect their own marriage vows. If I were the one that was deployed, I am willing to bet that people wouldn't accuse my husband of cheating, while he was home being a parent to his children.

Woman. As much as gender equality has made it strides in the last 100 years, women are still not considered equal to their male counterparts. A woman at any given time will be shamed for being just that, a woman. If we are overweight, we are fat shamed. If we don't fit into society's beauty parameters, we are called ugly. If we call out those who deem it necessary to say sexist remarks as we walk by, we are considered a bitch. It seems that lately we don't even have control over our own bodies. We need to look a certain way, feel a certain way and act a certain way to be able to feel somewhat accepted. We are shamed into thinking there is something wrong with us. Most of the stuff said to a woman, would never be repeated to a man, but we get shamed for standing up for ourselves. Get called the "weaker sex" to which I reply, No we are not the weaker sex, in fact we are the ones that hold society together. Women have known for centuries what it means to be a fighter, not in the physical sense, but in wit, intellect and determination. No one will fight harder than a woman on a mission.

I write all of this, to point out that it really is a different world for women. There are so many double standards that aren't fair, but need to change. This is just my perspective. Now with all that being said, I love being the gender that I am and won't change it. Being a mother to children, has made me grow inside, discover a part of myself I didn't know was there. Being not just a wife, but a military wife, has shown me a world, outside of my own sphere. It has made me stronger and more independent. And being a woman? For that I look to all the powerful women who came before me. I draw from the strength they put out. Seeing the battles they have all won, either personally or publicly, makes proud of who I am.

So for all the Mom shamers, people who call military wives "Dependas" and those who need to make themselves feel better by shaming others, the art of shaming is a horrible way to show how to be a decent human being. From the websites to the memes shaming people you know nothing about. Its not funny. Nor is it in your best interests to shame people in public, it only makes you look like an asshole.

On a personal note, for all those who felt that I didn't parent my children right, or think that I have not respected my marriage vows or haven't represented my gender as society has dictated for me, its time to get off your high horse and look at yourself and the hypocrisy that surrounds you like London fog.