It’s back. The month I used to love but now do my best to tolerate.
Before April gets a chance to begin, and before I start to feel like I’m drowning in blue splattered this and blue soaked that, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of a playlist that I’ll surely have on repeat. From April 1st through to midnight on April 30th, and through some of the madness that comes during what used to be my favorite month, I have a plan.
Music turned up to a nice respectable level.
Madness turned off.
As I offered last year, here is an updated playlist for your listening pleasure. Feel free to add your theme song or a get-me-through-all-the-bluewashing song in the comment section below.
Maximillian and Medina – Stavos Mammonian
I picked some great songs for this year’s playlist. Some are a bit heavy, but before we get to those, let’s get up and dance.
This one, produced by a friend of mine, puts a pep in my step every.single.time that I play it. On days that I find myself dragging my feet or on days when nothing seems to be going my way, I make a point of listening to it.
When you find yourself starting to feel down in the dumps, go ahead and play it, too. I bet it’ll get that toe of yours tapping. Sometimes a two – three minute dance break will do the trick to keep you going, so don’t be afraid to get up and dance if the spirit moves you. .
I love those dance breaks. They can really save the day. This song had all of us – including Ronan - dancing in our theatre seats last week.
Ronan hasn’t been to a movie in years. We tried to take him to a movie in 2014, but the last one I remember him enjoying was at a sensory screening for Cars 2 back in 2011. I thought we were nuts to bring him to a regular screening Friday evening. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to all the reasons to not bring Ronan. What if he didn’t want to go in the building? What if he sat down then wanted to leave? What if he had a meltdown? What if it’s the worst outing ever? I forgot the first rule of thumb, which is we try, try, try again and we try at least one more time after that.
I wanna try even though I could fail
Happily, Ronan sat through 1.5 hours of Zootopia and did great! He did need to get up and stretch, but after taking a few minutes to walk around the cinema, he was ready to go back and sit through the rest of the movie. I loved this song from the film. Besides it being Shakira, who dances just like I do, this line was perfect:
I won’t give up, I won’t give in
I almost gave up before we even gave Ronan the chance to try. I shouldn’t do that. Ronan has shown us time and time again how able he is when we put our fears aside.
For all the Warrior Mamas out there, this one’s for you. No, I have not lost my mind and turned into a Belieber, but parts of this song that had me smiling and thinking about you.
I was alone in the car running errands when I heard it the first time. My kids rolled their eyes at me the second time I heard it. “MOM. You know who sings this is, don’t you?” I didn’t. An 80s music girl through and through, I laughed and laughed after finding out that I was singing along to Justin Beiber song.
I still like this tune, and I especially like this part:
My Mama don’t like you and she likes everyone.
That line reminded me of a lot of moms I know. We moms used to be so different. Post autism, post vaccine injury, post fighting for appropriate IEP goals, post arguing with medical providers, we are not the same women we used to be. The naysayers try so hard to bring us down, but our kids have made us stronger, wiser, and better.
And when you told me that you hated my friends
The only problem was with you and not them
And every time you told me my opinion was wrong
And tried to make me forget where I came from
I’m not sure how we find the strength some days, but our kids have turned us into some of the most amazing mamas I’ve ever met. As tired and frustrated as we can get, we will still fight the fight. We will still move mountains. We will still turn on the charm.
My Mama don’t like you and she likes everyone.
We try our best, and we try to like everyone. Well, except those people who work against us. Those who work against us may think that our polite smile means that we have some sort of respect for them. But deep down inside, we probably don’t.
You're broken down and tired Of living life on a merry-go-round And you can't find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
Didn’t I just say that we mamas are going to keep moving mountains?!
I did! I did!
Ronan played this song one evening a few months ago. Cruising the internet one evening, I’m not sure how he found it. Once I heard it, it stopped me in my tracks. Kneeling down to where he was on the living room rug, I closed my eyes and listened. Tears streamed down my cheeks. Ronan is nonverbal, but my goodness, he can still find ways to express himself.
When the silence isn't quiet And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we'll take the world to it's feet
For those of you who’ve been walking this path as long as I have and who have children like Ronan, we sure do get knocked down a lot. From a failed IEP meeting, to being kicked out of a medical practice, to losing friends and being disappointed by family, we continue to rise up. I’m not sure how we find the energy but…
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again
Yes. We will.
Talking about what happened to my child and writing what I have written hasn’t always been easy. Some days, I feel like I’m walking on a long, lonely, cold road. As dark as some days get, I never plan on being quiet about what’s happened to Ronan or to my friends’ children. I saw the link for Disturbed’s version of the Simon & Garfunkel song on another autism parents’ Facebook page. It’s been shared a few times by other parents, too. I couldn’t pick a more appropriate song, or version of it, to represent the majority of my circle of friends.
In restless dreams I walk alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
About a month or so ago, I was negatively targeted on social media. Initially, I thought I was the only one singled out. As the day went on, I learned that other Age of Autism writers were also attacked. Not signing our praises, it was reported that we were feeling low, depressed and even suicidal. Unsure of where the attack came from, I immediately declared to the other writers that I was of sound mind and body and that I was not, nor ever have been, nor ever plan to be, suicidal.
Yes, some days are dark – very, very dark. But the company I keep reminds me to always find the light. Every now and then that light may feel dimmer than it actually is, but that light is there. You have my word that I will promise to always look for it.
I love Cat Stevens. A childhood favorite, he brings me back to a simpler time. This isn’t my favorite song of his (the next song on my playlist is my favorite), but I’ve been listening to it a lot more lately. Cat asks a very important question, one I wish more people would ask:
I know we’ve come a long way,
We’re changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?
Where do today’s children play? When I drive by the parks in my community, hardly anyone is there any more. When 1 in 68 have autism, when 1 in 6 have developmental disabilities, when 1 in 10 have asthma, when 1 in 13 children have food allergies, our children are sicker today than before. Of course, sick children can still play, but is that playtime being interrupted by therapy time, because of sensory overloads or because emergency meds need to be administered? For some kids, like my son, yes, their ability to play like past generations did has dramatically and negatively been impacted.
How did so many kids get so sick? How did so many of them become a statistic? I wish more people would question that. I have a pretty good idea of how it happened. And it wasn’t because of better diagnosing.
I couldn’t do what I have to for Ronan or for my family without spiritual support. I don’t always remember that I have God on my side, but my kids remind every single day to be thankful for His blessings.
At prayer time, while I reflect, and sometimes wallow, in how difficult my day has been, my kids remind me that tomorrow can be a better day. One of them usually includes this as the end of their prayer intentions. After thanking God for family and for friends, they add, “…and please help tomorrow be a good day!” Yes, please, especially if the day that’s coming to a close included a seizure, a meltdown, or was full of frustration.
There is no guarantee that today will be better than yesterday, but at the start of each new day, I get a fresh start. We all get a fresh start. We can make better choices. We can things differently. We can look for and appreciate all that we encounter – even the tough moments. That’s because tough moments become learning moments. Learning moments become stepping stones. Stepping stones lead to progress. Progress helps our child move forward. It helps me move forward as well.
I don’t know about you, but I live for progress, especially when it’s Ronan who made it! I want only to sing his praises and to thank God for the opportunity I had to witness it. Cat’s song is a perfect reminder to praise and to praise with elation:
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning.
Born of the one light, eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning,
God’s recreation of the new day.
Today is a new day for all of us. Let’s make it a good one.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.