I recently learned of some incredibly hurtful and patently untrue rumors that have been circulating about me, my children, and my mom. I had no idea things like this were being said, and since when is our family one that circulates drama?
My sisters, of all people, should know better than to perpetuate this. We’re a family. That’s not some idle term. We were foreordained to be siblings; we knew and loved each other long before we were born, and we will continue to be bound to each other throughout the eternities. Relationships are sacred - family relationships even more so, protected by covenants and honored forever.
The idea that any of us would even believe another of our siblings capable of mistreating our mom is sickening. She brought us into the world, taught us things other children never learned from their own parents, sheltered us from the unhealthy things of the world, and always demonstrated selfless, unconditional love, which we now echo to our own children. None of us would want to force her to do anything that made her less than happy, nor do any of us want to see her exhausted or ill.
We’ve all got struggles. None of our struggles are more difficult or more important than anyone else’s struggles; we all love and need each other. We’re family for a reason.
I’m posting my response to an uncle here, since I think the rest of my family should read it, as well. The next time something upsets one of us, I hope we can bring it to the source and ask what’s really going on. Unkind speculation, gossiping, and rumor mongering doesn’t become us, and it violates the sacred trust and love we have for each other. So… knock that junk off, guys. We don’t have time for ridiculous stuff like that.
Holy crap. I’m not sure who has been saying such ridiculous things. Heather has never even been to Utah, and Erin has visited our house maybe twice. My mom wants to be out here; I didn’t persuade her. She was exhausted living in a house with three dogs, working far more than 40 hours a week. She says she’s happy here. I figure it’s her choice where she lives.
She doesn’t nanny my kids. Sometimes I ask her if she’s free to watch two of them (three in really rare situations) if I need to go to a doctor appointment or pick up groceries. I don’t get out much. Neither does Josh; he goes to work and comes home. Sometimes I convince him to go blow off steam at the local hackerspace.
I don’t go off and do “arts and crafts” or waste time making junk. If I make things during the day, which is pretty rare, it’s done in the living room with my three little monkeys climbing all over me. Last year when Abigail was in the hospital following her fourth open heart surgery and her recovery was taking longer than expected, I volunteered to make some things for a charity in order to take my mind off the fact that my daughter was dying. Sometimes I brought some materials to the hospital with me so I could embroider or stitch while Abigail was napping. The hospital is an hour drive away, so it didn’t make sense to just go up there for 20 minutes or so.
Anything else I’ve made that couldn’t be done around kids was done late at night after I’ve put my children to bed. I’ve traded sleep for time to create because if I didn’t, I’d feel like nothing more than a robot. Some of the pictures I’ve uploaded to flickr are from a long time ago; they’re not indicative of any sort of rush of projects. If people want to know what days are like here, they’re better off asking me than speculating.
What do I make? Mostly stuff for my children - all three are on the autism spectrum and have very specific sensory needs. For awhile, Benjamin refused to wear pants that were stiff, and the sweatpants at the store weren’t so great, either. I’ve made felted cashmere pants for him, merino wool soaker shorts, and plenty of shirts/dresses for the girls. I’ve made cardboard play houses and weighted sensory toys for them. I’ve made a foam nest bed for Abigail to fill her needs when she was younger. Sometimes I’ve made stuff for charity projects. Every once in awhile, I’ll make something for a friend or neighbor, but that doesn’t happen very often; I don’t have time. Sometimes one of my kids will go through a phase where they REALLY want a toy of a particular item, whether it’s a fire truck or fairy wings for a barbie. It takes less than half an hour to make a thin cardboard fire truck, and that’s with Benjamin looking over my shoulder while Lilith plays with duplo blocks and Abigail flicks her sensory toys and drinks her bottle.
Sometimes I’ll unravel the seams of a thrift store wool sweater during the day, still with my children around me. That’s not something that gets in the way of their needs; it’s easy to put down at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, my mom is usually outside hunting for rocks in the back yard, or pounding sticks into the front yard. Those aren’t things I asked her to do; she decided she wanted to do them. I’ve told her many times to sit down when she seems tired. She doesn’t tend to listen. She sounds out of breath often because she says she’s still adjusting to the higher elevation. She gets just as tired at the end of each day whether she plays in the yard, takes one of my children to the park, or sits in her recliner and listens to an audiobook.
My mom kept asking if she could sleep next to one of my children before she even came here. She prefers to sleep near a child. We’ve always had low beds at my house; usually a mattress on top of a box spring, or a mattress on top of another one. I prefer the zen feel of an uncluttered bedroom without hard corners of a bed frame. The mattresses my mom and Lilith sleep on were purchased last year and are very supportive of the spinal column. She is welcome to sleep in the downstairs bedroom. She chooses to sleep with the girls instead.
The last time Erin and Alma visited was the day after we brought Abigail home from the hospital to die. It was shortly after a very difficult meeting with her medical team in which we had to decide which medications she’d be on, what interventions would be best for her, and if we wanted her to die quickly or slowly and painfully. This was after she’d spent a long time in the hospital an hour away, while Josh and I struggled to balance his demanding software career and two other very high need autistic children. I’m sure our house WAS a mess. Forgive me for my bluntness, Uncle John, but how about you or anyone else try dealing with all that stuff, swallow the idea that your small daughter is going to die within a few months, and see how easy it is to keep up with housework… does that seem reasonable?
I was also in the middle of trying to move all the fabric items from the front room into the back area, and remembered I had wanted to make baby Connor a cashmere sweater when they came. I spent most of the brief time they were here quickly sewing a wrap sweater that would fit him and keep him warm (they’d forgotten his jacket or something when they visited, and I didn’t want him to be cold in the car ride back to Alma’s relatives).
The following days after Erin and Alma visited for just a couple hours, Abigail was clearly not tolerating some of her medications and was vomiting blood all hours of the day and night. I was on the couch with her all night for all those times, and my mom definitely helped with Benjamin and Lilith while I was barely getting any sleep, helping Abigail when she was retching every hour. I was TIRED. I suspect any human would’ve been just as exhausted.
My girls don’t talk. Benjamin says words when he wants to. Most of their communication is nonverbal. I can read my children better than anyone else. I’ve taken the “Hanen More Than Words” course. I’ve done extensive research on autism and various treatments. Nobody knows my kids like I do. I’m with them as much as humanly possible. I’ve shown my kids’ occupational and speech therapists how I’ve made certain therapy aides for my own children so that they could make similar things for other kids who have sensory needs. I’m not one to pawn off my kids on anyone else so I can do meaningless time wasters.
If I choose to do something outside the home, there’s a damn good reason, and it always involves improving my community. The Etsy Craft Party I’m hosting at the local hackerspace is not a typical event by any stretch. It’ll bring in much needed members for the Transistor, and it’s not some stupid “make ugly junk that nobody wants” project, either. I’m educating 50 women on different methods of recycling wool, helping them understand the environmental impact, as well as illustrating the benefits of using various protein based fibers over synthetics, including diverse applications for special needs or medically fragile children and adults. I’d discussed the possibility of hosting this FAR in advance with Josh and my mom, and they strongly encouraged me to step out of my cave for that evening and help others learn something that would have an impact on their lives.
I hope this clears a few things up. I’m still astounded that there were any doubts as to my motives, or that people would assume such atrocious lies were factual. I wish those concerns had been brought to my attention instead of allowed to fester and create a rift. I wasn’t aware of any gossip or nasty rumors until you communicated them. I’m not sure what else I can say. Perhaps I could install a webcam in our house and keep it running 24/7 so that my extended family could monitor the safety of my mom and make sure I’m not taking advantage of her?
Meanwhile… I’ve got stuff to do. I love you, Uncle John, but I’m still annoyed that you believed this garbage.