Finding the Sibling Balance

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“Mama, what’s Autism?” she asked. “ ‘Cause Josiah has it.”

“How do you know that, baby?”

“He went up front at the balloon thing. They said if you have Autism, come up front, and you took Josiah.”

I smoothed the honey-blonde head on the pillow next to me, and smiled against tears welling up in my eyes. “Yes, baby. Josiah has been diagnosed with Autism.”

I knew I’d take part in a conversation like this someday, but never expected to have such heady and important dialogue with my six-year-old daughter. To my complete amazement, she took everything in and wholly digested it—asking questions like a professional researcher after I explained certain manifestations of Autism.

“Is that why he gets mad when things mess up?”

“Is that why he goes to the Reading Clinic?”

“Is that why he had seizures ‘long time ago?”

“Is that why he has so many teachers?”

“Is that why he doesn’t play toys with me?”

“Is that why he takes medicine?”

“Is that why he doesn’t listen good?”

Esther is two years younger than Josiah, but most everyone we meet mistakes her as the older sibling. This is understandable partly because of her height, (she will grow to be a drop-dead glamazon sooner than I’d like) but mainly for the way she has always looked out for Josiah. It’s not unusual for her to redirect him prior to a meltdown just like a seasoned behavioral therapist, keep a sharp eye out for him on the playground, make sure he has all his belongings and school materials before walking out of the door, or even give him “orders” like, “Josiah, you need to eat your supper first THEN you can have dessert.” To be honest, I find myself relying heavily on her. She’s such a mother hen.

There’s a certain mom-guilt that comes with having a typical child and a special needs child. At least, I’ve found that to be the case. I feel like I’m always playing “catch-up” with Esther to even out the mom-attention. I don’t mean for it to be that way, not at all, but Josiah takes up so much time. I drove Josiah to Nashville twice a week for an entire school year for tutoring. I spend tons of time researching effective methods of instruction. I spend hours compiling all his data for upcoming IEP meetings. I give him more one-on-one tutoring time than I give Esther–and this is all in addition to how Josiah’s needs sometime trump Esther’s.

Josiah is very particular about certain toys. He can share others just fine, but there are some that he refuses to share–Esther thinks this is unfair. Esther has had to settle for what movie Josiah wants to watch so many times that I feel badly for her. I even broke my “no TVs in the bedroom” rule just so Esther could watch her Princess movies. Josiah also doesn’t compromise well. If Esther wants to play tag, and Josiah wants to play hide and seek, they always end up doing what he wants to do. Explaining all of this to her is difficult. I’ve played with her numerous times to make up for the fact that she didn’t get to play with her brother. I know that I’m second best though—playing with your sibling is so much more fun than playing with your mom who gets winded too easily. Keeping a balance of my attention between them is really hard. Am I allowed to say that as a mom? Despite all that I do to keep it even, (hello, hours of cheerleader practice and Saturday morning football games) I’m terrified that in years to come Esther will emotionally vomit up all of her many woes and injustices on some therapists couch.

This is why I cried hopeful tears when the hot-as-hell-hubby showed me a video someone sent him. I was working on my research paper, which coincidentally enough is about using music therapy practices in the general music class to help children with autism, when he poked his head into the bedroom.

“Need some inspiration?”

“You gonna get naked?” I joked. (ok. Maybe I was serious.)

“Naw, for real. You need to see this.” he said and handed me his phone.

I then watched the viral video about the two brothers, one with autism and one without.

I cried. I cried and thought about my Esther and Josiah. I thought about how Esther will most likely always love and look out for her brother, even though it will be frustrating and oftentimes feel unfair. I thought about how Josiah will love her his entire life, and know that she has his back. I thought about how the two of them together have a story that is completely separate from the one that I have with them. I thought about how I can’t wait to read it.

Esther and Josiah compliment each other so beautifully. They’re like two sides of a coin. I have come to realize that I don’t need to worry and stress about keeping any type of balance—they already do.

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Note to Media: THIS is Plus-sized.

Today on Facebook, I had the good fortune to come across this link which shows celebrity photos before and after Photoshop.

http://denisesalceda.com/youre-not-perfect-and-thats-okay/

(did that make a link? I’m such a tech dummy. Just copy and paste it…don’t be lazy.)

It’s amazing to think that someone decided to SLIM DOWN EVA LONGORIA’S WAIST! Seriously? She’s a double zero! Some photo editor felt the need to make her even thinner? This article aimed to make us “real women” feel better about ourselves because even the celebrities aren’t perfect. I’ll admit, I did feel better until I saw this photo that the Today Show posted.

Model Robyn Lawley's swimwear line, launched this week, is part of a burgeoning trend in suits for larger women.

They said this “plus-sized model” was “making waves” with these photos. They are great pics, no one can deny her that, but “Plus-sized?!” What about this lovely model is plus-sized? Her big hair, maybe. If I saw this gal in real life, I’d call her thin, below average weight, slender, and FIIIIIIIIIIIINE! I’d then walk away from her feeling like a squishy-fatty and swear off of carbs for the zillionth time.

sigh.

I’m so sick of this shit.

I’m so tired of feeling like a blubbery whale when the Victoria’s Secret “Angels” runway show airs. I never watch it, but just knowing that it is on drives me to starve myself and attempt to do crunches.

I’m so tired of willingly allowing myself to be manipulated by the media. I’m smarter than this! I may not be able to create a link in my blog, but I swear I’m smart!

I’m so tired of cringing at my naked self in the mirror. There are stretch marks, cellulite dimples, and places that “hang down” in a less than flattering way. It’s a thousand wonders my husband still fancies me naked–yet, for some reason, he does. Shouldn’t that be enough?

I’m so sick and fucking tired of crying in the dressing room because the size I got was too small… I mean really, when did a size 14 become so damn narrow?! Someone zip me up into this fruit roll-up of a dress!!

I’ve  mistakenly allowed my self worth to become tangled up in my size somehow. I’m constantly checking out other women and mentally comparing myself to them to see if I’m smaller or larger than they. This is really unhealthy, and not something I want to pass down to my daughter. She is already head and shoulders above all of the other girls her age, so she’ll already be dealing with that issue; why add fat to the flames? (raise your hand if you thought that was “punny.”)

My obsession with my looks has got to stop. Isn’t this the second blog this month devoted completely to superficial shit?

I need to stop obsessing, or channel the obsession constructively and actually lose weight.

To what end, though?

Let’s say that I do lose weight and get really slender. Then what?

Will I be nicer, smarter, more important, a better wife and mom, and be suddenly happier then I’ve ever been?

I doubt it.

I can remember years ago being thinner and thinking I was fat!
Apparenty, it’s a neverending story, minus the luckdragon, of course.

I suppose if that hottie of a model is labeled “plus-sized,” and doesn’t mind, (especially since that’s a downright lie) then I shouldn’t mind the moniker either.

So, for that reason, I’ll share another photo from my aforementioned boudoir shoot.

Look closely, Today Show. THIS is plus-sized.

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Emily Ann Hill photography.

Thirty (gulp!) Five!!!

I’m slightly freaked out.

Ok, so it’s more like I’m freaked out in an overreaction that presents itself in a melodramatic show of: wailing and gnashing of teeth, listening to sad music for emotional cutting purposes, and gorging myself on chocolate, cookie dough ice cream, and copious amounts of homemade wine.

I’m (gasp!) turning 35 in just over a month.

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiiillllllll!!!

To be stereotypical as possible– How did this happen? How am I this old?

I burst into tears today while doing laundry; grieving over the passing of my youth, I imagine.

I’ve got crow’s feet and white hair.

My cheek isn’t as high as it used to be.

My tits certainly aren’t where they used to be.

My ass never really has been what I wanted it to be.

Bottom line, I can tell that my looks are fading, and I’m taking the loss of them terribly hard.

This shock and sadness over my appearance solidifies what I’ve been adamantly denying for years. Admitting it is the first step, so here we go, folks…

I’m superficial and vain.

That song IS about me.

Although I’ve never been what some would call a “real beauty,” like Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Aniston, or Ingrid Bergman; with the right makeup, lighting, and Instagram filter, I can hold my own.

I was a late bloomer though. In high school, I was a dorky girl with a flannel shirt ’round my waist and wild Alanis Morissette hair–because middle-of-nowhere-Tennessee is exactly the place for the 90’s grunge look, right?
Wild hair coupled with an outrageous wardrobe that was equal parts thrift store and hand me downs pretty much nailed down my role as the token teenage misanthrope. I never felt pretty in high school, not even at my prom.

So naturally I tried to reinvent myself in college as a pretty and preppy sorority girl.
There were two problems, though: 1. The sorority I joined was full of rabble rousing girls who cared more about having good times than being the cutest group of girls on campus. (and boy, did we had some good times, folks…whew!) And 2. It was the late 90’s when wearing baggy overalls and an Old Navy tee was considered being “cute.”

Thank God for Sex and the City and In Style magazine! I suddenly became aware of haute couture, dressing for my body type, how to tame my Alanis mane, and the right way to apply make up.

I was 20, and feeling pretty for the first time!

I felt pretty confident most of the time during my early 20’s–especially when walking arm-in-arm with my two girlfriends who were taller than my own 5’9″ frame. We’d wear four inch stilettos and own any bar we walked into. Ah, those glorious 20’s! With all the cat calls and wolf whistles, I’d forgotten there was ever a time when I felt less than beautiful.

I rode this wave of beauty for more than a decade; navigating two pregnancies and the coinciding yo-yo weight with clothing savvy to minimize the flaws in my appearance.

Stacey and Clinton would’ve been so proud.

This upcoming birthday, though is messing with my head like a philosophy professor.
I’m actually seeing the bloom fading before my eyes…

Waaaaaaaaaiiiiillllll again!!!!!!

I decided to do something daring, adventurous, and Sex and the City inspired.

I had boudoir and nudie pictures taken.

Oh yes, I did.

Now, dear readers, there is photographic evidence that I once was pretty.

I know that real beauty is on the inside. It’s in the way mothers love their children. It’s in the way girlfriends are always there for one another. It’s in the tears you cry when you’re moved with overwhelming compassion for a stranger. It’s the sweat on your brow as you prepare a big Sunday afternoon feast for your family. It’s the light in your eyes when you laugh.

I know all of these things.

But that doesn’t make the onset of middle age any easier.

This does.

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Photo by: Emily Ann Hill Photography.