What Does Self-Care Really Mean for Parents of Disabled Kids?

| 8 minute read |

Is it just me, or have you been hearing the phrase “self-care” more than usual lately?

After the year-and-a-half we’ve all had, it seems we’ve gotten serious about finding ways to care for our needs and restore our weary souls – and I love to see it!

But I’ve also noticed some disagreement about what self-care for parents actually looks like. Does taking a shower count? What about a stroll through Target? Or what if I spend time doing something I love, but I have to bring my kids along?

Some feel that any break from childcare duties – even if you’re just grocery shopping solo – is a refreshing self-care outing. Others argue that this is setting the bar too low, and minimizes our true mental health needs.

But what if it’s not either-or?

Click here to read the full piece at Momme. It argues that what’s most important is building a sustainable lifestyle of validating your mental health struggles and nurturing your own mental wellness.

How to Practice Gratitude (and Reclaim your Joy!)

| 8 minute read |

Have you ever experienced a moment when your heart overflowed with gratitude?

The other day, I glanced up from my laptop screen and my eyes landed on a photo of my son as a newborn. My heart swelled with a sense of awe that pushed away every tired and frustrated feeling that my day had brought. As I basked in the glow of my blessings, I told myself: “Bottle up this feeling – you’ll need it later!”

Of course, life doesn’t work that way. We’re naturally forgetful people. If the Israelites were grumbling in the desert just days after God delivered them from slavery, then I’m certainly following in their footsteps every time I focus on a minor frustration and neglect the bigger picture of God’s incredible provision.

Click here to read the full piece at Equipping Godly Women, which includes practical tips and Bible verses to enrich your gratitude practice.

To the Mom Trying Her Best As the Holidays Approach

| 5 minute read |

Aah, the holidays.

Time to curl up with a hot drink and… drown in your insecurities as you compare your seasonal festivities to every family in your social media feed!

…I know I’m not the only one, right?

I’ve always loved this season: the colorful transition to fall, the fun and whimsy of Halloween, the warm and nostalgic family meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The joy in the air is palpable, and everything seems to feel a bit lighter.

But if you saw my house, you’d never know I had a festive bone in my body. I’m not the “kind of mom” with the cute, seasonal craft ideas or the Pinterest-perfect home. Aesthetics have just never been my strong suit.

Click here to read the full piece at Her View From Home.

My Best Friend’s Death — and My Own Survival — Taught Me the Vulnerability of Joy

My entry into the Medium Writers Challenge is about the single most impactful moment of my life. It’s about my journey through grief, and the sense of “foreboding joy” (as Brene Brown calls it) that has been a part of my life ever since. And of course, it’s a tribute to one of the greatest humans I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing: Terrance De’Shawn Davis the First.

Click here to read the full piece on Medium.

There’s More To You Than Motherhood (And It’s OK To Say It Out Loud)

| 5 minute read |

I don’t want motherhood to be all there is to me.

Has this thought ever crossed your mind?

When I look in the mirror, I see a compassionate soul, a bubbly extrovert, a caring friend, a singer/actress who wishes she could dance, a bookworm, a Georgetown and Michigan grad, a passionate advocate, and so much more. Those closest to me see all (or at least most) of those things, too.

But I have this nagging fear that most people see me as “just a mom.”

Click here to read the full piece at Her View From Home.

I Almost Let My Expectations Steal My Joy

| 3 minute read |

We recently had a beautiful family getaway to a nearby hotel.

But I almost let my own expectations get in the way of my joy.

I had spent hours searching for the perfect hotel. I knew it had to be beautiful and a little bougie, because that’s what feels restorative for my husband. (I’m the on-the-go, sightseeing type, in contrast with my husband, who puts the STAY in staycation. We alternate on whose needs we cater to, and this time we were definitely going for restful vibes.)

With that in mind, my only other requirement was: a pool. Since we wouldn’t be out and about much, I imagined splashing around with the kids as a central feature of our time away. So I ordered a new swimsuit for my 3-year-old son and super cute floaties for both kids: a classic flamingo for my 6-year-old daughter, and an airplane complete with a steering wheel for my son. I went all out, y’all.

And I found the perfect spot! A hotel with not only a pool, but a splash pad and water slide just for kids! I just knew it was gonna be – let’s use that word again – perfect. I definitely feel guilt over multi-tasking and not being present enough during the week, so in my mind, this getaway we were going to have ALL the fun. ALL. OF. IT.

My daughter had seen the photos of the hotel and kept asking, “when we get there, can we go STRAIGHT to the pool??” So once we checked in, we changed clothes, used up all the breath in our lungs to blow up their floaties, and eagerly headed downstairs…

…and neither of them were feeling it.

My son couldn’t care less. My daughter was overwhelmed by the number of people. No worries, I reasoned. We have 2 more days.

Saturday morning, the splash pad was empty, so I convinced my daughter to just walk in and take a look.

We got one tiny surprise splash from one bucket, laughed hard, and ran out… and that was it.

We didn’t so much as dip a toe in the rest of the weekend.

The old me would have been furious. I feel my emotions HARD, and I know my disappointment would have turned into anger and been hard to shake.

Embarrassing story: I once had a whole temper tantrum (crying, foot stomping) after we had run across Disneyland to try to get a photo with the Zootopia characters. They cut off the line a minute or two before the narrow time window was supposed to end, and I was livid.

My daughter, a toddler at the time, who that whole trip was for, was unfazed. If only that had been enough for me. Instead, I let my deep need to check off every single box on my “FUN” to-do list ruin a whole portion of my day.

Fast forward a few years later. You know what has helped me prioritize true enjoyment and connection over my image of what fun “should” look like?

Parenting an autistic child.

I’ve realized I find so much more joy in his joy than I do in pursuing what I thought would be fun. Sifting through tiny rocks on the nature trail, chasing each other around giggling, and playing with the same toys over and over puts more pep in his step and sparkle in his eye than any elaborate plans I could make.

“Wait,” you’re saying, shocked. “You mean actually HAVING fun together is more enjoyable than dreaming up and stubbornly pursuing hypothetically fun scenarios?”

Yup. I know. Mind = blown, right?

And, surprise surprise, that applies to both my kids!

So this weekend, we laughed a LOT. We played a LOT. We did crazy dances during Uno Dare and acted out hilarious “lie detector” skits during LIFE. We cuddled and played Roblox and got Happy Meals and built Legos and cuddled some more.

And even as we packed the unused floaties back into the van, I could genuinely say it was perfect.

I didn’t let my expectations steal my joy…

Until I tucked my daughter into bed on Sunday night, and her face looked as though she were about to confess to a heinous crime. Timidly, she said:

“Mama? …I want to go to the pool now.”

Parenting. It’s a trip!

PART TWO — Non-Autistic Parents: Why We Should Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

| 4 minute read |

“When we speak over autistic voices, we teach our children that they don’t have the power to speak for themselves…

“When we uplift autistic voices, even when it means lowering our own, we show our children that we honor them as the experts on their own experience: both now, and as they continue to find new ways to express themselves.”

Click here to read the full article, which I’m so grateful to have published at Not An Autism Mom. (If you missed part one, you can read it first here.)

Non-Autistic Parents: Why We Should Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

| 4 minute read |

“The moment we (as non-autistic parents) enter conversations with autistic adults, we bring our privilege with us. Living in an ableist society that caters to people with brains like ours means that we have blind spots – whether we realize it or not.”

Click here to read the full article, which I’m so grateful to have published at Not An Autism Mom.