The Good Guys

Earlier today I was going through some old papers of mine. I ran across a folder of what contained my writings of many years ago. (Most of which I’d probably never share here because I cringed reading them!) I did, however, find a story my daughter made up when she was very small. I say ‘made up’ because I actually took pen to paper for her as she told me her story. I believe she was just 5 or 6 years old at the time.

It brought a tear to my eye as I read it, but not because it was a sad story. In fact, it wasn’t the story at all. It was the memory of hearing her tell me the story. I absolutely loved being a mom and I did my very best to be a better mom to my kids than my mom was to my sisters and me. She wasn’t a horrid person or anything, but I really have no fond memories of bedtime stories, games, playtime, etc., with her. Most of my memories of those things (and more) were with my Dad. I just think some people were not meant to be parents and I think Mom may have been one of those people.

My mom’s mother was a single mom and she worked in a bar/restaurant. She spent much of her free time at that bar instead of spending time with her children. My mom didn’t have a good role model to teach her how to be a mom. Simple as that. I, on the other hand, had aunts, moms of my friends, and teachers who were great role models. I watched them as they played their roles and I wanted to be like them. I’d like to think they played a huge roll in the kind of parent I turned out to be.

I miss the days when my kids and I had our fun times together. Alas, kids grow up and moms grow older. I’m glad I have my memories! On to my daughter’s story….. I wonder if she remembers this!

The Good Guys

Once upon a time, there was an alligator and an elephant. The alligator’s name was Princess and the elephant’s name was Big El. Princess and Big El have a friend called Mingro Fish. Mingro Fish is the shark’s best friend. The shark’s name is Tiger and he is 7 years old. The momma shark’s name is Three. There is a baby seal and her name is Four. All these animals are good friends and they are nice to each other.

The Cowboys and Indians must be nice because they don’t have guns. The Cowboys and Indians ride horses and they are friends with Princess, Big El, Tiger, Three, and Four. The friends eat sandwiches with meat and cheese and bread with no mayonnaise when it’s dinner time and they stay out of the kitchen. They have to stay out of the kitchen until Three says it’s time to eat.

After dinner, they brush their teeth and their hair. Then they put their pajamas on and they change their panties. They put their dirty clothes in the hamper because that’s where they belong. And then they go off to bed. They don’t cry and they don’t argue because they’re not supposed to.

The End

The Ex-Files – Planning The Move

For about a year before I actually left my ex, we had been making plans to leave California and move to Missouri or Arkansas. Dad was planning the move himself (cheaper to live and buy property in that part of the country) and he didn’t want to live alone so he invited us to go with him. CP was excited about it. I was unsure but went along with the planning.

CP insisted that it wouldn’t take him more than a couple of weeks to find a job, once we moved. At that time, he was driving a truck for a local company so he was sure he could get another truck driving job quickly. Every couple of weeks my Dad came from San Francisco to visit and we always talked a lot about the move. Each time we had one of our discussions, CP would change his timeline for finding a job. First, it was 2 weeks and then it was 2 months. Then it changed to 4 months. Next time, it was 6 months. It seemed to me that he was trying to weasel his way out of working and doing his fair share when we moved! I was worried and I knew I was either going to have to tell him in no uncertain terms how things were going to be or I was going to have to UNinvite him completely.

Dad was going to retire very soon and the plan was that he would haul a trailer with important belongings, some furniture, etc., put our things in storage and then start the hunt for a house that was large enough to accommodate CP and me, our 2 kids, my grandmother and of course, my Dad. Dad had purchased plane tickets for me, my kids and my grandmother before he left. We were set to leave in July. CP was going to follow by car later in August and with the rest of our belongings. This would give him the chance to tie up loose ends.

My Dad left in May. He put our belongings in storage as planned and began his hunt for a house. He stayed in hotels off and on, mostly for a shower every few days. Other nights, he stayed at roadside rest areas, to sleep and sometimes he bought meat at Walmart to take to the rest area to cook on an open grill. He was essentially homeless. He eventually found the small home we are now living in, but it took until July to find something in our price range. The kids and I had to stay at my sister’s house for 3 weeks because we were still waiting for closing on the house.

Back on the homefront, prior to the move in late May, CP invited his aunt and uncle over for dinner. I tried my hand at homemade manicotti. I made the pasta by hand and it turned out fantastic! That evening, my daughter wanted to play with her Lite Brite set and CP had a fit about how she would dump it and not pick it up. She promised she would pick it up when she was done so he let her have it. She played and played while the grown-ups talked. She finally got tired of it and was picking it up but her little brother wanted to play with it. They began screaming and fighting and I stopped them. SR was picking up her mess, as she had promised but since brother wanted to play, too I told her she could let him play with it. She started to get upset about the promise she had made to her pop.  I said, “I’ll tell pop that your little brother wanted to play and that you were picking it up like you promised. I’ll help brother pick it up when he’s done.” She was worried that she was going to get into trouble. (She was just 6 years old.) I assured her she would not get into trouble. I didn’t think this would be a problem.

In the meantime, CP calmly mentioned in front of his aunt and uncle that he would be following us on our move, but it would be a few months later than originally planned, December to be exact. This was the first I had heard of it and he only mentioned it in front of his aunt and uncle because he knew I wouldn’t cause a scene. He knew I wouldn’t question him in front of his aunt and uncle. I didn’t disagree with him and let it go, just as he predicted I would. It was this precise moment that I knew CP had no intention of following us on our move. It was just one stall after another. First, changes in the amount of time it would take to get a job, and now this.

After another hour or so of visiting with his aunt and uncle, CP came through the house and saw my daughter’s Lite Brite pieces all over the floor. He was pissed off and started yelling at SR and really piling it on thick because his aunt and uncle were still there. (I wasn’t aware that little brother had finished playing with it or it would have been picked up already.) I tried to explain to CP what had happened; that I told her I would help little brother pick them up after he was done playing. (He was just barely 3 years old.) CP was showing off, trying to show his aunt and uncle who’s boss when he yelled, “I told her to pick up the mess and what I say goes!” He refused to hear what I was saying. That’s when I started picking up the mess. My blood was starting to BOIL. He tried to push his weight around even more and I stood up, and I told SR and CP to go to their rooms to play. I stared him dead in the eye as if the glare would kill him instantly. (I wish it would have, to tell you the truth.) Then I got back down on my hands and knees and finished picking up the goddam pieces to the Lite Brite set myself. Aunt and uncle watching, of course. He is NOT going to treat me like that, or my kids over something so insignificant. There was no reason for CP to make a scene and act like a complete asshole over the whole thing when it could have been easily put to rest. Sometimes circumstances change and as parents, we have to make quick decisions and change the rules a bit. Maybe I made the wrong choice in the first place but I honestly didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. To this day, I still wonder….

Anyway, aunt and uncle finally left. I enjoyed their company but thought when they left, CP and I could talk about what happened. But no. CP went to bed, without a word to me or the kids. Naturally, it’s still early enough that the kids were still up and I still a kitchen to clean, kids to bathe, stories to read, etc., etc.

Stay tuned for the next installment. 



This is the sixth installment of a series. If you missed the first five installments, you can find them here: The Break-Up & The Concert, Finding My Own Place, Financial BurdenSpite, and Accusations.

A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love knows no boundaries. She forgives and is patient. She protects and supports her children. Mother will love unconditionally all of her children, and that love will last a lifetime. That love is pure and unselfish. Mother’s touch is gentle but her love is fierce!


I know my own mother loved me and my sisters but she had problems. She would never admit it and if she had been confronted with those problems she would have yelled, “There’s nothing wrong with me! It’s everyone else who has the problem.” No lie.

I know she did the best she knew how considering her own mother was a single mother who worked in a bar and on her ‘off’ time she sat on one of those very same bar stools commiserating with my Dad’s mother. Small world, ‘eh? My mother and her brother were left to fend for themselves and got into all kinds of trouble since they had no adult supervision.

Anyway, I have always tried to be a better mom to my children than my own mother was to me and my sisters. It hasn’t always been easy and any parent knows how difficult parenting can be! I’m sure as hell not perfect, nor would I ever claim to be, but I did the best I could. Frankly, I think I did a pretty damn good job!


I don’t get to see or even speak to my children every day. I don’t even know if they have ever read my blog. I just hope that S.R. and C.F. know, I mean truly know, how much I love them! No matter what mistakes they have made or will make in the future, no matter the disappointments, and no matter the differences of opinions, they will always hold the biggest piece of my heart.

Forever and always.



An Insight Into Autism

My “other daughter” has become a very invested, loving parent not only to her own biological children but to 2 step-sons as well. This is her wonderful opinion piece and I hope you will give it a read. I dare you to walk away without getting it in the ‘feels.’ Please do share, and share again…..

Autism: 4 Reasons Why I will Never Accept the Statement “I hope they don’t find a cure for autism” by Alyssa Anderson


   I was sitting in Phase I training soaking in all of the knowledge I could in order to help my step-son who has autism advance in learning. I understood that his autism was something that made it hard for us to communicate. Sometimes we speak the same language, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes he would understand what I meant when I said, “I’m going to get some milk.” He knew I meant “Alyssa is going to get some milk.” Other times, I could say that exact same sentence, “I am going to get some milk”, and this time his response is “Ah! I don’t want any milk!” Yes, those pronouns are sometimes tricky. He processed it as “Colton is going to get some milk.”

   Yes, I was there sitting in training hoping I was determined as Temple Grandin’s mom. I wanted to learn his specific language. I wanted to break that language barrier. I wanted to break that barrier so we could talk and learn things from one another about things way bigger than who wants milk. I wanted to help him count money. I wanted him to understand what rent was. I was soaking in this information like a sponge, and then I heard something that made me angry. Instantly I realized that I didn’t understand why this person said what she did and what she said made me so mad.

   This “autism specialist”, our team leader, was explaining that her son had aspurgers. It was wonderful hearing her talk about his quarks and about how much she loved him. Then she said something that had me seeing red (a metaphor Colton wouldn’t quite understand). She said, “I hope they never find a cure for Autism. Actually, the world would be a lot better place if everyone had Autism.” That statement was made to me about 8 months ago.

   I understand very well that my thinking and opinion is often in the minority, therefore I said nothing. Often, I have to research the opposing opinion and sometimes I realize I’m in the wrong. So, over the next few months, I combed through the comments on news blogs and social media posts with titles like, “Mother of Child With Autism determined to ‘Kick Autisms Butt”‘. Once again, I found that I was holding the minority opinion. Comments similar to “how dare you try to change your child, he is who he is and you not accepting that means you don’t love him” riddled the comments. Out of hundreds of comments, maybe ten said “good job, momma”. Out of thousands of reactions, there were few “likes” or “loves” and plenty of “angry” and “wow”. Yes, wow can be on the fence, I understand. Moving forward, I had to ask myself as I often do when my opinion differs: Why? Why do I still feel like I would want a cure? Why am I not convinced? I agreed with their statements like “My son isn’t any less of a person because of his autism”, but I didn’t agree with people ridiculing other parents dealing with autism as trying to “beat it” or advancing their children’s learning to hopefully one day function in society like Temple Grandin. She is an amazing person whose mother never gave up on her. In fact, just like stated earlier, I wanted to have her mother’s determination. Temple’s mom is a hero! That was one determined momma. (If you don’t know the story, look it up. It’s not fiction. If you don’t want to read about it, there is a movie. Watch the movie and the bonus features. You will see Temple herself, and you will most likely cry.)

   I thought long and hard, trying to understand the popular opinion. After a considerable amount of time thinking about my opinion and why I felt that way, at 3 am this morning (yes this thought has been plaguing me enough to keep me awake sometimes) I zeroed in on 4 main reasons why I can not accept the statement, “I hope they don’t find a cure for Autism.”


   Before I start my list of reasons, I want you, as the reader, to understand a little about Colton. He is somewhere between “low functioning” and “aspurgers”. He babbles, but he can speak English. Forming complete sentences in normal conversation isn’t always something he does IF you can get him to hold a conversation in the first place. His favorite word is “no”, and he’s doing this new thing, “Shush! I am the great shusher” when you say something he disagrees with like “eat your vegetables”. He flaps his hands, gets frustrated easily, jumps around, and he does this high-pitched, loud squealing thing and squawking thing when he’s excited watching his movies or playing games like “you’re a dirty old man” with his dad. He is a joker, a prankster, has a wonderful love for his brother, he is exemplary at art, he loves animals, and he draws funny cartoons. One time, he drew me with wings flying in the air, and my arms were open wide, welcoming the children floating around me that were all in the fetal position. He kept saying about the picture “She’s going to love us. That Alyssa is going to love us!” Oh, he is one sweet boy. Do not doubt my love for him because he certainly doesn’t. So here are the reasons why I couldn’t agree with our “team leader”.


   It is hard watching this wonderful, beautiful child cope with his condition. He is frustrated. He may not fully understand autism. He may not fully understand why he feels like he’s different than the majority of people, but he does understand that he IS different. He sees people communicating with one another with ease. He will watch (while looking away. He watches with his ears by putting one close to the conversation with his head slightly turned toward you) in bewilderment as I have a conversation with his dad. It’s so easy for us. I imagine it’s like sitting in a room full of people speaking Spanish while I only speak a little and can’t keep up with deciphering the words. He knows he can’t do that, and it frustrates him. How do I know? Well, no one talks to him here saying he’s different. We try to assimilate and treat him just like we would the other kids in our family. We don’t tell him, “you have autism”. Despite that, he makes statements like “My brain is sick” and “I don’t want friends” (obviously just trying to avoid having to confront his frustration at communication). He has even asked me, “Why do I have to be a human anyway? Why can’t I be a dinosaur? Being a human is stupid. Humans are stupid.” No, I’m not projecting. Sometimes he hurts because of his autism. He doesn’t speak everything on his mind. In fact most of his speaking is trivial and impossible like asking dad to make him a time machine so he can go back in time or asking me to make a DNA splicer since he knows I like Science. Him saying these deeper things are real to him. To him, they are not a joke or a fantasy. He sees the difference, and he doesn’t like it. No one pointed it out to him. Why wouldn’t a parent want for their child exactly what the child wants for his/her own self, especially regarding the struggle with mental health? Could you imagine him asking me to take it away and instead of helping if I could, I tell him “Sorry, I’d rather you have autism”? It would be wrong. I cried thinking about him being upset that “his brain is sick”, those were his words! So for Colton, that dear, loving, wonderful human being, I can not agree with the statement, “I hope they don’t find a cure for Autism.”


   Autism is a significantly broad spectrum. In no way am I downplaying aspurgers, I grew up with someone who had aspurgers. It’s very hard. However, I found it very insensitive for this mother of a child who has aspurgers to say, “I hope they don’t find a cure for autism” to the mother in the back whose child bangs her head up against the wall in a fit, bites bloody chunks of flesh out of her own arms and legs (most likely out of the mother’s arms too), who is incontinent, has sleepless nights, seizures, and people, the list goes on and on! It’s hard for parents to watch that, and I assure you, this poor child doesn’t want this for herself. It is very insensitive to simply say to this mother and child, who go through this daily, “Actually, the world would be a better place if everyone had autism.” My son does none of these self-harming things, but for the sake of these parents and children who experience it daily, weekly, or even once a year, I refuse to agree with the statement, “I hope they don’t find a cure for autism.”


   Oh boy, this is a conundrum. Not the first definition. No, it isn’t a hard question that has a hard-to-find answer. No, the answer is simple. In fact, it was the first thing we went over during this Phase I training. My son HAS autism. Everyone who has a child with autism can well agree with that. Autism is a mental disorder. Look up “mental disorder”, and you will see autism on the list. Just like a smart woman said at the beginning of Phase I training, we would not say a person IS ADHD, we would say they HAVE ADHD. The main and most important point of it: AUTISM DOESN’T DEFINE A PERSON. They are who they are and autism is a series of symptoms. It is so important, not just politically correct, to say this correctly as we talk about this condition. So then, why is this conundrum amusing? Put frankly, you can’t say “my child has autism” in one breath and “You don’t love your child because you want to “beat autism”. You should love them just the way they are” in another breath because the two sentiments are exactly the opposite. This is a heavy burden and a huge controversy for people with children who have autism, and people with children who don’t have autism cannot understand. Therefore, any person not directly caring for a child with autism has no right to an opinion for no cure (which I’m sure on these comment boards there were many), and their comments are null and void. Sorry. I love you all the same, but you cannot understand. So, now only thinking about the parents who have a right to an opinion and agree that they don’t want a cure, I tried to understand. Every comment section had hundreds of parents saying to other parents who would want to eradicate autism sentiments to the effect of, “how dare you want to change your child. My child is perfect, and I wouldn’t change them for anything. It’s who they are, and you need to accept that.” Ah ha. There it was. They were essentially saying, “My child IS autistic.” In their eyes, if their child didn’t have autism, their child would not be the same person. These same people, who would have another person’s head chopped off if they didn’t say “has autism” instead of “is autistic”, weren’t playing by their own rules. This is identifying autism as the person, not the disease. So I asked myself and pondered on it for a while, “Do I think Colton would be Colton if he didn’t have autism?” Yes, I do. He would still love art. He would still be hilarious and a joker. He would still do “Colton things”. Yes, he still be “Colton”, but he wouldn’t feel the frustration that comes with autism. That child mentioned earlier would still be the same child, but wouldn’t be hanging her head against the wall. It can be said of all mental disorders, “(insert any disorder here) doesn’t define who a person is.” If this is true, then how could my child possibly be a different person if there was a cure? If autism is truly a mental disorder like ADHD (once again: it is defined that way, don’t shoot the messenger), then how would you feel if a parent said, “I hope they don’t find a cure for ADHD” or “I hope they don’t find a cure for tourettes syndrome, depression, anxiety, seizures, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia..” Ok people, once again, the list goes on. I understand autism is different for each child and it is almost impossible to “cure” because no two children with autism are the same. Even the cause varies from person to person. Getting back on track, if it’s true that the disease doesn’t define the person, then how would they be a different person if somehow someone found a “cure all”? The cure would be for the symptoms. It would not result in some new person who is nothing like your old child being born into a more-grown-than-an-infant body. A person can not say their child has autism if their thinking doesn’t line up with that sentiment. Either their child HAS autism, and it doesn’t define the child, or the child IS autistic and would not be your “real” child should there be a cure. My child HAS autism, and I want to help him in any way that he wants to be helped. This is another reason why I can not accept the statement, “I hope they don’t find a cure for autism”.


   If I could get Colton to understand why bad things happen to good people (yes there is a satisfying answer to that question), this would help him. However, I can’t at this point. I can’t explain to him that someday all of his loving parents who love him greatly will probably die before he does. He will have to go on to live somewhere else. Most likely in a group home. Sure, he will most likely be older, but that doesn’t make it any less unnerving that this innocent person will be at the world’s mercy. I know we all want to give ourselves reassurance that at OUR group home, everyone loves my child. At OUR group home, there are no sexual predators, and no one takes advantage of MY child. Reality: I’ve worked in homes and have seen first hand the neglect and two-faced actions of many caregivers. Not all caregivers are that way, but I assure you, every child and/or adult living in these homes will be exposed to one or more people like that. Oh, and that nice caregiver, the one who genuinely cares, (speaking from experience) will turn in abuse and neglect to the administrator and they will say something exactly like this: we have investigated your claim, and we have determined that this situation met at least MINIMAL care requirements. Yes. Minimal is just fine in their book. After all, the worker to resident ratio is way overwhelming, so how could they possibly be taken care of properly. Too many residents, not enough workers. I will not kid myself. Sure the staff will be wonderful when you’re there visiting, and the abuse and neglect will be on a smaller scale for those whose family visits often. That girl who was abused in the care facility I worked at had no one. No visitors. No family (who did exist) came to see her. She got the brunt of it the abuse, and no one helped her. I will never send Colton to a residential place, and I can only hope and pray that one of our other children steps up to the plate and takes on that large responsibility. Yes, it scares me on a deep level. What is going to happen to this wonderful child of mine who has a problem counting money and may never be able to live on his own? He’s 14 now and for the future safety and well-being of this growing human (yes he is a human, not a dinosaur as he longs to be), I cannot agree with the Statement, “I hope they don’t find a cure for autism.”

   Yes, four reasons why I can not find it in myself to agree with this heart-wrenching statement. Yes, I realize I’m in the minority. Yes, I’m sure there will be more “how dare you” comments or thoughts from anyone able to read this. Yes, I understand that the world we live in isn’t able to solve his problems fully. Yes, I know his only real hope for his safety and cure for this disease that does not define him doesn’t rest in the hands of this world’s system and maybe not even Science. Perhaps someday someone will find a cure, but I’m not counting on it. I just can’t bring myself to agree with the statement, “I hope they don’t find a cure for autism”. We have to be there for those who want to help their children beat autism. So next time you see someone trying to defeat it for their child and if the thought to ridicule them crosses your mind, don’t.. Try to understand their opinion like I tried to understand theirs. I wrote this for people to try to understand. Don’t claim superior parenting by degrading their hopes for their children because “THEIR child has autism”, not “their child IS autistic”. Paraphrasing a loving mother of a child with autism, “Leave them alone. We all have a journey with autism, and this is hers.”

Parenting and Children’s Privacy

I don’t claim to be the best parent in the world. No one can claim that, for heaven’s sake. When we have our first child, we are newbies. Babies don’t come with instructions and no matter how many books we read, we will never be fully prepared for the job of parent. Parenting is a difficult job but is also a very rewarding job.

We all have different ways of parenting. One parent’s way might be different than another’s, but that doesn’t make it “the wrong way.” There is one thing I feel very strongly about and that’s privacy. Children, no matter the age, deserve (age appropriate) privacy. I’m not talking about privacy to do whatever they wish. That would be ridiculous and dangerous, obviously. It’s totally natural for teens to want privacy. Perhaps just some alone time in their rooms, a conversation on the telephone, an email to a friend, or maybe just hanging out with a friend after school or on the weekend. We need to keep in mind that these young people are trying to discover themselves. They are developing their own distinct personalities, their own individualities. It’s a tough time for teens. They are under a great deal of stress and peer pressure. It’s only right that they are given a little privacy to unwind, be themselves, reflect and have a life that they can call their own. That doesn’t mean that we let them run rampant and do whatever they please. By all means, DO find out who they are friends with, DO know where they are going, DO get to know the parents of your child’s friends, DO keep the lines of communication open. Communication is key!

These days kids of all ages are finding a place for themselves on the internet. This can be a disastrous thing or it can be a positive thing. While we must keep close watch on what our children are doing online, this doesn’t mean spying. Having open communication at all times with your child is very important. This can’t be started when they are teens. This must be developed from the time of the child’s birth! We can’t expect communication if we haven’t had it all along. We must have parental controls on our computers to protect our children but we mustn’t spy on them…unless they give us a reason to, which is another subject altogether.

Many young people keep journals, have private chat conversations online, have their own cell phones and computers and many have Facebook (or other networking) pages. Just because they have these private areas of their lives does not mean we should treat them as though they are “up to no good.” Just because one child got into trouble at age 15, doesn’t mean your other children will follow suit. In other words, don’t punish all your children for the sins of one.

We mustn’t alienate our children! We must keep them close to the heart, guide them and protect them but also let them grow into the wonderful human being you hope they become. You can’t do that if you spy on them and mistrust everything they do.