A Modest Proposal

Today I read an article in my local *newspaper of record* about the new Sesame Street character, Julia (or is it Julie?), the little girl with autism.  This wasn’t the first time I read about the Sesame Street character but this article spoke of why they chose to have a girl character, why they created her more for autism awareness for NT kids and a few other issues. Now  let me be clear…I am grateful for all the autism awareness on television from Sesame Street to Parenthood to The Big Bang Theory.  I think the characters are interesting, if a bit sanitized for the general public.

But back in the day, when “Rainman” came out, there was a bit of belly aching from some in the Autism Community for lack of realism but I was grateful there was a movie with a character who had autism!  I actually knew the Mom of the person the Rainman character was based and the character’s behavior was based on a real person with autism, so why some criticized the lack of realism I never  understood. There have been other movies since with characters who have autism, again, sanitized and  perhaps a bit romanticized but……again, I’m just happy Our Kids are represented in the cinema.

Anyway, today over my morning coffee, after reading that article, I got to thinking…..instead of having a character with autism on a scripted show, wouldn’t it be more interesting to have real people with autism on a reality series? So here is my proposal:  Make it a cross between “Survivor” and “Big Brother”  and  perhaps a little, “So You Think You Can Dance?” Instead of parents of kids with autism, make the contestants extended family members of people with autism (I’d like to nominate several of my In-Laws), arrogant special educators and para-professionals (nominated by parents of their students), neighbors of families with an autistic family member and those older ladies in Target and Costco who think they  know how you should handle your kid when he has a melt-down in the middle of the store.  And of course, we can’t forget those folks with perfect children who are so precocious you feel inferior just standing next to them.  I’m sure most of you have several people you would happily nominate!

I imagine there should be about 25 contestants to begin with, in a lovely perfect house, with lovely and perfect furnishings…and part of the *goal* of the show would be to keep the house and furnishings lovely and perfect! We would start out with 5 kids, beginning with one or two newly diagnosed (perhaps 2 or 3 years old but a newly dx-ed 10 year old might be interesting),  one or two elementary school age and then a boy (has to be a boy) entering puberty.  The children with autism should cover the spectrum but a *night time howler*, a *feces smearer* and someone non-verbal should be included. It goes without saying they should all be on different diets. As contestants are voted off, a new child with autism will join the house, and each child will be slightly older until there are at least three adults with autism (covering the spectrum) as well as the children.

While the children are at school, the contestants will be expected to clean and cook and if there are any problems at school, they will be expected to drop everything to handle the problem. They will be made to feel guilty if they are not able to fly  right over even if they are in the middle of cooking something needed for a special diet which will be ruined if they leave it.   After school, they will be expected to shop, run errands as well as take the kids to any therapy or extra-curricular activities. All this will be happening while trying to keep up with their own jobs via phone, text or email.

As each new person with autism joins the house, the jargon will change….IEP will stay the same but *Staffing* will become *M-Team* and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) will become plain ol’*autism* etc.  The contestants will not be notified of the changes and will be expected to figure it out contextually.  And as the new autistic people join and are older, contestants will be expected to find adult day programs and the funding for the adult day programs.

Did I mention there will be surprise inspections which will be part of the elimination process? And those Inspectors will be the *voted off* contestants who will feel free to criticize their former colleagues…LOUDLY! I’m not sure what the ultimate prize should be at the end and I’m not sure how I would *pitch* the idea to begin with.

But I do know when someone tells me they understand my situation or can empathize or thinks it’s all Rainbows and Unicorns, I want to tell ’em if they think it’s so easy or they could do a better job, they can take over any day.  The “So You Think You Can Survive Raising a Kid With Autism?” show would be a great outlet for those folks. But it’s not practical…..they wouldn’t last a day!

Advertisements

What do you want to know?

For Hannah

It is evening and I am finishing the dishes. An ordinary weekday night, with no meeting or class or event we must attend. I am going to settle in with a favorite TiVo-ed television show or maybe a book or maybe email a few friends after the dishes are loaded in the dishwasher. Hubby has a game on and it might be nice to join The Kiddo and The Middle Boy and The Youngest and watch it together. The phone rings and all hope for any of that is gone—it’s an “autism” call.

I was a local Autism Society of America chapter president for over six years and took these calls on an almost daily and weekly basis. It was more often when something about autism was in the news. Now, I am retired from the chapter but I still get an occasional call. I feel obligated to at least point the caller in the right direction, whether giving them information about the current support group or an agency or a physician who might be helpful. My phone number is out there, on some outdated website, but I don’t want the caller to be frustrated with a worthless call—I want to help them in some way.

After explaining I am no longer active with ASA as a chapter president, I tell them I still may be able to help them and ask—what do you want to know? The question or concern is addressed and then I explain I am the parent of an adult with autism and they have further questions. One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to answer some of those questions.

Often, they want to know about a school district or a physician and I can help them quickly. Sometimes, they want to know where to get help for a grandchild or a niece or nephew or are moving and want to know the best place to live in our area. They want affirmation of what they are doing—I try not to judge but do try to be honest. They want to know how to handle a school district or what recourse they have if they are not happy with a teacher or treatment. I try to be honest and try to be calm. And I try to be supportive. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen to them.

Many want to know how Hubby and I have stayed married when the divorce rate for couples with a child with autism is so high. Its luck, I think, and how we look at The Kiddo in the grand scheme of our family. We are all on the “Kiddo Team” not on the Hubby or Me team and we do not blame each other. Blame can swirl around us and our family but we do not blame each other and are united. We respect each other after a long time of dealing with autism and feel much the same way about a lot of things. We work through the problems together and that has also brought us closer. We go out together regularly and when our kids were really young, had a “date night” with movies and popcorn or music on our stereo. We try to be a couple and not just Kiddo’s and Middle Boy’s and Youngest’s parents. Make time for each other because if you don’t, there won’t be time.

Others want to know about our other kids and how they are doing. Both The Middle Boy and The Youngest have Masters Degrees at this point, with more education probably to follow. They both have had their own issues and we worked through them just as vigorously as we did for The Kiddo. They are kind, responsible young men and are more mature and understanding than many of their peers by having a sibling with a disability. Are they resentful of all the time and energy we had to spend on The Kiddo’s and not on them—maybe. But during The Kiddo’s  illness a few years ago, they both spent time in the hospital with him and helped us talk through the treatment we should use. We came together as a family and it’s obvious they love him unconditionally. So I think I can answer this way—they are doing well for the most part.

Some want to know if I have any life outside of autism and I tell them I have always worked around my own career and I do what I can to stay involved in my profession for my own sanity. I’ve worked at least part time since The Kiddo was born. At various times, I have worked full time or had three part time jobs or been in graduate school and have worked in Hubby’s office as well. Now, I tutor NT kids, teach an arts specialty class of adults, speak about art and autism and am a moderator for my professional society’s website. I have been supportive of  those in the arts with developmental disabilities and have been helpful, through my professional organization, to facilitate dialogue between both of my worlds. I take the occasional class as well to keep my own “chops” current. It is a matter of stepping away from autism so I can be fresh and not resentful, myself, rather than any selfishness on my part. How can I be there for The Kiddo if I am soul-sick and needy? My art and years in the arts are part of me and I cannot give them up, even for My Kiddo.

I am not as involved in autism advocacy as I have been in the past simply because I don’t have time. I choose to do what makes me happy now and where my talents lie, whether helping a choir of disabled adults from New Jersey when they visit our state or telling others about our life with The Kiddo. We have always tried to put a face on autism to help others understand and this has become my passion.

The parents who call me by mistake also want to know—does it get easier and the answer is “yes.” You have to be willing to do everything you can for your child and then be at peace you DID EVERYTHING you could, no matter what others say to you. No guilt for whatever happens because, despite what some may tell you, you really can’t control the outcome. Most all children with autism get easier to live with and work with and some may even have some degree of independence, but some do not. You have to be okay with that and know it may be a possibility.

We are still here, still fighting for our son and others like him. We have more time in our lives for things other than autism and get more sleep and are able to be a bit freer so we are a “success” in that regard. And I hope that gives people hope. But we will always live in the autism world.

So, what do you want to know?

The Holidays are Coming

When I began this Blog, my thought was to share some ideas and perhaps a solution or two from my experience as a Long Time Autism Parent. Since it’s right before Halloween, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about holidays.

Ask anyone with a disabled child, and they will tell you the most difficult time of year is fall. School begins and the holidays approach, commercials bombard us with pictures of the “ideal” family and what we should be doing, buying, feeling, etc. Our “normal” extended family reinforces the idea we will never experience and feel what we should. Our worship community may or may not include us in the celebrations. We’re lucky if they do and if they don’t, we may be lucky anyway.

Schedules are different, food is different and we, as parents, are different in our stress level. Perhaps, we have things under control during the regular year but as soon as the first pumpkin appears in the stores, things go to heck in a hand basket. Grandma insists one little cookie won’t wreck the diet that seems to be helping. The school district takes every holiday–known and unknown–and wrings every day off it can, disrupting the rhythm of the days and the change back to Standard Time doesn’t help either. We may be trying to figure out how to afford the therapist AND Santa this year. As soon as Halloween is over, our neuro-typical kids rev up the “gimme machine”, which doesn’t re-enforce their disabled sibling’s behavior program. None of these things help matters with our kids in day to day living. And we must live in the day-to-day, in addition to getting ready for the holidays.

Our Kiddo is in his 30s and our holidays have evolved into a time we love and look forward to, but that was not always the case.  If I had known then what I know now, things would have been different.

One good thing for us has been the “social story” way of managing holidays with someone with autism. For years, I explained what was happening to Our Kiddo as the seasons changed, using pictures, story books and decorations to do so. I have long had–because of my profession as an arts educator–a collection of decorations for every holiday and decorate our whole house. For the last several years, I have put up our decorations, without some of the stories and he has done just fine, acting appropriately for each holiday situation. Seeing the silk wreath of brightly colored autumn leaves means ‘turkey” to him and the familiar jingle bell wreath for his bedroom door means “Christmas” just as hearing carols does for someone else.

Music was important to us at holiday time and we began to seriously collect Christmas music the weekend Our Middle Boy was born. To keep my mind off being in labor, we browsed at a record store and found a Swingle Singers Christmas album. We brought the album home with the baby and the Kiddo settled down and rocked to the music—it was like magic! Our holiday collection of albums and CDs grew and grew and grew. We add to the collection every year and look for unusual things all will enjoy or giggle about.

We celebrate our own holidays with our boys in addition to the extended family events. It was important to us to give our sons a sense of our own family, and having our own holiday traditions helped. Such as, if we are not hosting Thanksgiving, we have “faux” Thanksgiving and we may or may not have turkey. It may be before Thanksgiving or right after.

Many parents struggle with gifts for our kids with autism–what to do, to buy or to suggest. Some are unhappy when Grandma gives what she thinks our children should have instead of what we suggest. I, too, have long struggled but have come to grips with some strategies for looking at the folks giving him gifts. I was delighted when one of Our Kiddo’s uncles gave him a huge tin of gummy bears–something he LOVES. His Uncle F was thinking about what he would like. When Grandpa gave him yet another cashmere sweater, eventho I have told him over and over he is tactile defensive, only wears acrylic sweaters, not to mention he is a slob and needs something that can be washed regularly, I didn’t think about the actual usefulness of the gift. I thought about Grandpa giving him the same gift as all his siblings and cousins, trying to treat him the same way because he is his grandchild as well and that touched me. One of his Grandmas gets toys appropriate for three year olds and I am fine with that. Another Uncle got him a Lava lamp one Christmas and a disco-ball the next–Our Kiddo’s room is groovy! Of all the gifts, my favorites have been from his Auntie C–musical water globes–and he displays them proudly in his room. Even if the clothes can’t be worn, or the toys are not what he likes, I am fine with it because they have thought about him. For so many years, the extended family has not bothered with him because he is difficult or they have to think outside the comfortable box they are used to getting gifts–shopping for him is work. Some still behave that way, thinking no one will blame them for the glaring oversight. But, to ignore Our Kiddo, is to ignore a family member at the time of year we hold the concept of “family” in high regard. I still struggle with this, after so many years because he is my son, he is worthy of note and IS part of the larger family.

Speaking of Santa, all of us have had to come to the conclusion the Mall Santa will not always work for our kids. Our ASA chapter used to hold a holiday party every year and a chapter dad would dress up so we could finally have those Santa pictures. It was wonderful and HE was wonderful and had the patience of Job. Our other kids knew who it was and we have wonderful pictures of them with “Santa”, some very silly, but very much a part of our holiday traditions. We laugh about those parties, filled with pizza and cookies and Santa bringing gifts we brought. It was so much fun and so normal to have a holiday party with Santa.

Many parents have their ASD kids on highly structured diets. It is a real power struggle to have others accept the idea of the diet, whether one is cutting out dairy or wheat or limiting sugar. When others host holiday meals, that’s when the trouble begins. You can ask for the variations, bring the food yourself or feed the kids before you come. In any case, someone will be upset. We have to do what is best for our situation, that particular year. Some years, throwing the diet out the window may be the answer and others, coming after dessert for the gift opening only may work. I can only tell you we’ve done all of the above and then some–I don’t have the answers for what is best myself.

We still use the New Years holiday to center our family, spending it much the way The Hubby and I did when the boys were young. We couldn’t get a sitter for New Year’s Eve one year and spent the evening playing board games and talking about each child, our wishes and hopes for each and plans for the coming year. We started out trying to make a special time from an unfortunate situation and it evolved to include a wonderful dinner, games, movies and everyone enjoys it. The Boys play games with us (sometimes bringing their Significant Others), Our Kiddo watches the Marx Brothers or Fred and Ginger with us and we have a good time, together. It was, and is, the only holiday, all year long, that is truly our family’s holiday. Even if we have plans for New Year’s Eve itself, we try to have “our” time set aside sometime within those few days for this tradition. This has been a way of holding our family together when all sorts of outside factions seem to rip it apart.

Gallows Humor and Chuck Norris Jokes

The older The Kiddo gets, the more I laugh……. laugh at our crazy life…..laugh at his autism-y quirks….laugh at all the stuff, if someone else was telling me, I wouldn’t believe but if an Autism parent was, I would.  Let’s face it, folks, some parts of our life are hilarious! Well, maybe not totally hilarious but darn funny….a day later and after the fact……..the next year and after you’ve moved…….or after the carpet is cleaned. Poop stories are especially funny a decade or so later.

A friend of mine told me she had a wonderful nursery for her two sons.  The eldest *Joel,* is NT and she had such a great time picking out great furniture for his baby’s room…..a beautiful set of changing table, rocker and crib, all a beautiful, sturdy white wicker. It was such a lovely cocoon of calm…..the baby’s room was her favorite room in the house. When *Jonah* came along (with autism), she regretted that damn wicker furniture every single day because he was a smear-er….a feces smear-er….and she couldn’t keep it clean. She finally gave up, went to Wal-mart and bought the cheapest and easiest to keep clean crib she could find. She pitched the wicker set….no one would want it anyway! *Sophie* and I couldn’t stop laughing when she told me about the wicker crib….. her story about questioning a Wal-mart employee about the durability of the finish when using Lysol caused me to laugh so hard, I hiccuped!

When my boys were in Junior High and High School, Chuck Norris jokes were popular.  If you’ve never heard of them, here are a few for your enjoyment (and the reason for me telling them will be apparent in a bit):

There used to be a street named after Chuck Norris, but it was changed because nobody crosses Chuck Norris and lives.

Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, fear of Chuck Norris is called Logic.

Chuck Norris and Superman once fought each other on a bet. The loser had to start wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants.

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch. HE decides what time it is.

Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

My Kiddo, like many people with autism, has OCD issues.  And also, like many people with autism, it appears he isn’t paying attention to his surroundings but he is, and don’t you forget it.

I’ve mentioned in a previous Blog we re-did our kitchen a little over ten years ago and decided to resurface our cabinets instead of gutting the whole thing, mainly because we didn’t think he (WE) could handle two or more months of upheaval. The cabinets and floor plan are essentially the same as before. It was a mistake to do that because he………wants things the way they were ten years ago.  I have beautiful solid surface counters but need to have heat resistant pads on the counters near the stove and oven when I cook so it doesn’t crack if I accidentally put something on them….and Kiddo moves them….when I’m in the middle of cooking……..as soon as I leave the room……answer the door or the phone…….check my email….change a load of laundry….or in the middle of the night. The Kiddo wants things a certain way in our home.  He is willing to wait for minutes, hours or even DAYS to change things in the kitchen or living or family room back to the way HE thinks they should be. This where the Chuck Norris jokes come in……Chuck Norris doesn’t sleep, he waits…..and that’s Our Kiddo……when he sees something he wants to move back to the way he thinks it should be…..Kiddo doesn’t sleep, he waits!

Don’t Hate Me!

Now, hold on……what I am going to say may cause you to hate me. And truly, you may think I am bragging, but I swear I’m not.  And you may THINK this is a great thing but……well, alright, I’ll just say it…….I have a CLEANING LADY!  Whew, glad I got that out.

Now the reason I have a Cleaning Lady may cause the romantics out there to tear up a bit and trust me, it is romantic in a way, but actually having someone come in and clean the house in a household with an autistic adult family member ain’t no great thing!

Hubby and I have been together for 37 years and married for 36. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we decided to have a huge party at our house (really, in the back yard) because the following week we were hosting my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party at their favorite restaurant. Each couple wanted their own celebration, so we agreed and sorted this out a YEAR before, with dates and venues chosen.  The invitations were sent out and……I FREAKED!  And the reason I freaked out was because my house…..my WHOLE house…..was never all clean at the same time. As I tried to calm my mind down long enough to decide where to start cleaning (and to get Kiddo out of the house long enough so I could do it), Hubby asked me what I wanted for an anniversary present.  I said flippantly, ” I want to have someone come in and clean the damn house,” so he arranged for us to have a cleaning lady come in every four weeks….and she and her crew are STILL coming! Told ya it was romantic 🙂

But it isn’t that great, folks, because I can’t *just* relax and have her come in.  My Kiddo hates change.  Usually, our schedules are such The Kiddo is not at the day program when they come so I have to strip his bed with the bedroom door closed and sneak his clean sheets out of the linen closet…I feel like I’m doing something scandalous!  When we first had Juana come, we would prep the Kiddo by telling him Juana and the girls were coming and bribe him  with chicken nuggets from Wendy’s (those are the big guns, folks).  We told him he needed to be good so he could have Wendy’s after they left. And 50% of the time he was the smiling, perfect gentleman and 50% of the time, he was a jerk!  One month, I forgot to do my cleaning lady Social Story with him and….he was perfect!  I started NOT doing the prep work with him and he did better than fine…..we wonder if knowing they were coming was worse than just having them come…..maybe the anticipation of change was more difficult than the actual change.

In any event, there are some months I think the whole thing isn’t worth it but….I like a clean house.  So does The Kiddo.  And isn’t a cleaning lady better than a pair of silver candle sticks for your 25th anniversary?

You Are a GREAT Parent!

One of my Nephews is having a kinda FB war with one of my kids.  He decided to taunt my kid with “my Mom is better than your Mom” crap and my kid wasn’t buying it.  My kid responded with “it’s easy to be a so-called *great parent* when all your kids are normal.  When you have a kid with autism, it’s a whole other thing.”  The Nephew responded with, “you people always bring up autism. I bet it’s not that big of deal except for you losers.”  Now the cousins aren’t speaking–too bad but to be expected.

My son is right–anyone can look like a great parent (from the outside) when there are no challenges.  If your kids hit all those milestones when they should, lucky you.  But you haven’t begun to be a *great* parent because–you don’t have to be.

How can you consider yourself *great* when you haven’t had to tote your kid (and his brothers) to a therapist’s office three times a week and still try and get a decent meal on the table within minutes of arriving at home? And what about the Team of Professionals it takes to coordinate your kid’s education–ever try to get five of them in a room at the same time when it’s not IEP season?  Toilet training?  It’s *fun* to get it done when he’s two or three years old  but when you’ve spent time EVERY DAY until he’s six or seven working at it so he can be toilet trained, it takes a certain kind of determination that makes a parent not just *great* but bordering on Sainthood.  I know you like “organic” and “whole foods” and “gluten-free” and use other food buzz words that make me laugh, but when foods you choose for your kid can make his autism worse or just getting the kid to TAKE. A. BITE. requires the planning of a four-star general, any preferences you may have for your perfect children and their diets makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth. How can you be considered to be a great parent when the biggest challenge you’ve had with your children is them not making Varsity on the first try?

Parenting is not for wimps but Special Needs Parents are a special breed of strong-armed, strong-stomached, strong-willed Warriors who try every day to do the best they can for their kids—ALL OF THEM—and second-guess themselves at every turn.  They take no time for themselves, or very little, and feel guilty for anything they do not related to their kids. When no one notices their sacrifices, it’s fine, until someone makes a crack, like Nephew did.  And then all bets are off.

Anyone can parent someone without problems; it’s only when there are problems you see what kind of parent they are—and what kind of person they are as well. Special needs parents are GREAT PARENTS! We’ve had to be because there is no other way to parent someone with challenges.

 

Remembering Mama

I began my Blog this past August as a sort of salute to my Mom, who passed away in July of 2014.  It’s been a little over a year since she’s been gone and during this time, I’ve missed her more than I could have imagined.  She was 86, and after a 13 year battle with colon cancer and two days in home hospice, she passed away. Those 13 years were not all terrible; it was only the last six months, the last six weeks, the last six days that were unbearable for her….and for us too….those who loved her…….to see her in such pain. If anything, her passing was a blessing.  I only wish she didn’t have to die for her to be finally free of pain. I miss her!

Of course, I miss my Mom…anyone who loses their Mother misses them, no matter how old they are. But what I miss most, and the reason I started this Blog, was her support of me as a Special Needs Mom. I would like to support Special Needs Moms in her memory and having a Blog with an autism and special needs slant seemed like a way to accomplish it.

My Mama was mother to six children and  I am the oldest. She was a Lady, with a capital *L*, but could strike fear in her children just by the tone of her voice. She adored us but knew we weren’t perfect (except for her grandbabies and her one great-grandbaby, THEY were perfect!) and supported us in what ever endeavor we needed her support with.  Parenting was one of those endeavors. And being a Special Needs Parent, I needed her support more than my siblings with the NT kids.

My Kiddo was her first GrandBaby and she adored him. And he adored her right back, kissing her and hugging her (yep, my Autistic Son kissed and hugged his Grandmother without prompting) as soon as he saw her. In fact, while she lay dying that last evening, he wouldn’t leave her side……he planted himself in her recliner the hospice workers left next to the hospital bed, AND WOULDN’T LEAVE. Eventho we thought he would be more comfortable sitting at the picnic table in the back yard with pizza, we couldn’t get him to move. Now that I think about it, that may be the most profound part of this whole story…..an intellectually challenged person not leaving his dying grandmother’s side because HE LOVED HER. An autistic adult loving someone? How can that be? Maybe we all need to re-think what our kids are capable of, no matter how old.

Why did I start the Blog to honor Mama? Because she was the one person to take my side, my point of view, not judging or telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing or feeling. That’s what I’m trying to do here with this Blog. What she would tell me was what I needed to do to take care of myself. If we take care of ourselves, we can take care of other people….never forget that,  folks!

Take a nap, she would tell me when it was obvious during a conversation I hadn’t slept for days  because of the Kiddo .  She would ask, when I was complaining about Hubby forgetting my birthday, when was the last time you and Hubby had some time ALONE together?   If I whined about trying to do multiple therapies and not being able to get Kiddo to do any of them, she would tell me to take a breath and figure out which one was most important, then do that one.  When I was beating myself up for not doing enough….for The Kiddo, for The Middle Boy, for The Youngest……she would tell me there are 24 hours a day for everyone and why should I expect more from myself  than others do.  When The Kiddo was about 14 years old, I  complained to Mama about him being difficult to get up in the morning in time for his bus and his being grumpy, and she told me he sounded just like my brothers when they were 14…..Kiddo was being normal and I was thinking *autism* and she was thinking *normal 14 year old boy*……made me feel better right away!  When we had to make tough decisions about The Kiddo, she never told us what to do, she and Daddy *just* supported us, no matter what.

So:

  1.  Take a nap.
  2. Try to get away alone for a bit with your Partner.
  3. Prioritize.
  4. Realize there are only 24 hours a day and you are human.
  5. Sometimes behaviors have nothing to do with Autism; it’s just a kid being a kid.
  6. You made the best decision you could under the circumstances.

Take care of yourselves and I’ll be back soon. I’m going to have a big, gooey chocolate doughnut now. Mama would approve!