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Loosing your identity.

I’ve always been a very maternal person, I always knew I wanted children from a young age.
I had Mason just after I turned 23, he was the best ‘surprise’ we had ever had. 

When I’m passionate about something, I research the heck out of it. When I was pregnant I read books, googled everything possible and took advice of other parents. 

When Mason was born I did everything that I thought I ‘should be’ doing. I never followed my gut, I did what the books said. What people expected of me. Now having my third when I was 28 I’ve pretty much got it down to a tee. I’m exactly the mother I wanted to be and I do what’s best for us all.

I struggled when Mason was a baby, I missed my life, I missed work, I missed people, most of all I missed myself. Looking back now I’m pretty certain I had postnatal depression.

I returned to work when Mason was 7 month old and I enjoyed it. I was a hairdresser/barber and my job was based around being social, talking to people and feeling like I served a purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, being a mother is the most amazing gift any woman can ever have, I loved it, but I was more than just a mother. 

When Mason started a pre school playgroup, it was the first time those words got said to me, I kissed Mason goodbye and a little girl said to me on the way out…’bye Mason’s mam.’

Fast forward to the time I returned to work after maternity leave with Finley. Mason was under diagnosis for autism and Finley was 6 month old. Finding people to watch the kids was hard. I couldn’t put Mason into a mainstream nursery or Childminder, we had a few failed attempts. My mam really struggled with the demands from a struggling Mason and a small baby. Emma was finding it hard to work her shifts around helping me with childcare. Even if I did have a nursery or Childminder for both the boys, my wage would of been took up by the cost. 

I made the decision to leave work, I spent six months of stressing over childcare and stressing over leaving the two of them everyday. I’d be able to claim to be Mason’s carer with the benefits he received.

When I left work, I left a part of my identity there. 

We barely left the house, it was too hard and too stressful, we spent most our days cooped up doing the same thing, day in, day out.

Mason had his diagnosis, we had so many people and services involved, I had people turn up at my door and I couldn’t keep track of it, one day I actually said to someone ‘I’m sorry, who are you?’ Every time The would address me the same:

‘Are you Mason’s mam?’ 

‘Can I speak to Mason’s mam?’ 

‘Is that Mason’s mam?’

After a while I became just Mason’s mam. It was all I was.

That’s really hard, I felt I had more to offer the world, I always wanted to work, I enjoyed my work and hoped to get back someday.

The thing is, my work hours don’t fit around school hours and I don’t have someone every day to pick up and drop off Mason to and from school. 

I’ve accepted the fact that I will probably never work again. However there is huge positives around that too. I get to be there for my kids all the time, I get to be flexible with appointments and school events. I got to have another baby, we may not of had Theo if I worked still. 

I have the best but hardest job in the world, I compare my days with kids to my husband as my work. Technically I’m Mason’s carer so i do get paid for it. With my job though, I’m always in the same 4 walls, I don’t get a break, my job is 24/7, I don’t leave a shop or office to my home life. I’m always there, every day of the week is pretty much the same. 

I chose to be a parent but being an autism parent chose me, I wasn’t something I anticipated. Loosing your identity is hard when you always thought you would keep something that was just for you. Maybe someday I will get that back.

For now, I plan on being the best parent I can be and raising my beautiful little boys into young men. 

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Autism · Uncategorized

Autism and Marriage

I read that the divorce rate for marriages that have a child with autism is huge.

I can completely understand why.

Me and Trev are celebrating 10 years together in May, three years married in April.

We met when I was just 19 and he was 24.

So carefree! We didn’t have a care in the world!

We met at a typical place-a bar! Where he offered to buy me a drink and asked me to go to the cinema the next day. The rest was history!

We were together a few years when we decided to save for a house, we did amazing, saving a 15% deposit for our own new home.

I’ve always been a very maternal person, I always knew I wanted children, but knowing we weren’t quite ready for that we got the next best thing-a dog!

Our gorgeous puppy-Marley! 

Funny thing is a few days after getting Marley we found out another surprise-I was pregnant!

We were shocked, excited and scared all at once.

The perfect life I had always dreamed of was falling into place.

We had no idea what was ahead of us.

I had a really good pregnancy, no morning sickness, baby was always measuring right, heartbeat always perfect.

Then we came to find out what we were having-we both wanted a boy and thats exactly what we got! Both sides of our family have strong boy numbers.

Trev was overjoyed, he dreamed of having this little boy to share his football and sport passions with. I dreamed of a beautiful little boy who I would raise to be a little gentleman.

Labour wasn’t easy, it was long and difficult, a few complications along the way but he was born on 25th February 2011 weighing in at 9lb 5oz.

He was breathtaking, the absolute double of his daddy as he still is now.

Bringing our Mason George home from the hospital was the start of the rest of our lives together…exactly how I pictured it.

Bringing Mason home


Mason wasn’t the worst baby but he certainly wasn’t the best. He never slept great, he was up numerous times in the night for feeds. Me and Trev were sleeping in separate bedrooms at this point to ensure the other one could catch up on sleep.

I was never prepared for that tornado a baby causes. I went from being a self employed hairdresser who made good money and was so sociable to being stuck at home all day with a screaming baby. I started to become resentful of Trev going to work all day, managing to have an identity, getting a lunch break, being able even pee in peace.

Funny thing was…Mason was in his own bedroom after a few months…yet we were still sleeping in separate ones.

It was the hardest time in our marriage, and at this point, autism wasn’t even part of our lives, but it built the foundations of the marriage we have today.

We argued, we bickered, I wasn’t a joy to be around, I missed people, I missed work, I didn’t even know if I was doing everything right with this little boy I was responsible for. We became passing ships, after work he would take Mason while I made tea/showered/caught up on sleep. Trev started doing more and more football on evenings and weekends. I was alone so much and it hurt.

We both wanted to end it…but neither did us had the balls. We went on like that until Mason was about one year old.

We had booked a holiday to Las Vegas with my parents. Mason was only 14month but became such a settled little boy.

The day before the holiday Trev told me he couldn’t come. He had to be in a court hearing at work and they wouldn’t let him have the day off.

What was I supposed to do? Go? Stay?

The way our marriage was heading it wasn’t looking good.

I went.

I was in floods of tears as we arrived at the airport, still wondering if I should go, not knowing if I was coming back to a relationship or not.

Just as we were about to board, Trev rang me and said ‘I love you, and I’m so sorry’ I said the same back. We loved each other still, we just lost our way.

After I returned from holiday things were amazing between us, we got that spark back and fell even more in love.

It was a good job as our world was about to change forever.

We never even imagined what it would be like to raise a child with special needs. The stress and the pressure it put on our lives. The appointments, the explaining all his quirks and behaviors to people over and over, the meltdowns, the not being able to take him anywhere on my own. I struggled a lot in the beginning. I never wanted anyone to know, I wanted to keep him locked away, safe with me where people wouldnt judge or stare.

That wasn’t how our ‘perfect’ life was supposed to be.

It was our life though and we got on with it.

On New Year’s Eve 2012 I returned home from work to find Trev down on one knee.

We’d come so far, had such big ups and such low downs it was symbolic to that.

Of corse I said yes!

A month later there was another surprise! I was pregnant! We were overjoyed!

We stuck together through it all, we brought another child into the world, and Finley brought us so much joy and happiness, it really helped us and brought us even closer together.

We’ve been through so much together, more than many couples go through.

On April 14th 2014 we flew to Las Vegas with our closest family and were married on a rooftop terrace. It was beautiful and a perfect wedding for us.

Our wedding day ❤
Our family 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦

We muddled through a few years, having both boys was hard but we were a family and we were proud of what we had achieved.

Me and Trev work really well together now, I’ve taught him to have so much more patience with the boys, especially Mason, he struggled to enter his world at first, being at work all the time meant he never knew Mason the way I did. Trev took everything on board, he listened to me, took my advice and it worked, him and Mason have the most wonderful bond and relationship now. He still struggles with Finley, he’s a little swine and a complete Mammys boy.

Each marriage is different, people work differently, we made our marriage stronger before autism entered our lives. Nobody will ever love our children the way we both do. We have mutual understanding of each other now. If  times at home are hard, I snap, he says things he doesn’t mean, but we know why we do it. It’s because we live very hard, very stressful lives. We don’t want to take things out on each other but we’re human and we do, but we don’t take things personally any more. You always take things out on those closest to you and it’s so true.

In November we brought another beautiful little boy, Theo into the world. He’s completed our family.

Our lives are crazy, we know that, we caused it. We stress, we fight, we bicker but we all love each other unconditionally and we are all strong together!

The Tearney’s 💙

 

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To the woman who doesn’t know me.

There’s a woman who lives in my town.

I know you, but you don’t know me.

In the last 6 years our paths have crossed many times.

The first time I seen you was in the hospital when I had Mason. I never knew you personally but knew your face from just seeing you around our small town. We were in the same meeting when being discharged from hospital.

I don’t know if our boys were born on exactly the same day, I was in hospital a few days after I had Mason. 

Bringing Mason home from hospital

The second time was at the baby weighing clinic, you probably didn’t recognize me but I remembered you from the meeting. I thought to myself…I wonder if our boys would be friends in the future, if they would go to the same school. I think we briefly chatted about lack of sleep and constant feeding, after Mason was weighed I went on my way.

Over the years I remember just seeing you now and then, in Tesco, over the town center, even at another baby weighing clinic.

Then I remember seeing you at a local stay and play playgroup when Mason was about one. Still I don’t think you really recognized me, but I always recognized you. 

Then when Autism became part of our lives I seen you with your little boy, he was sat in the trolley at Tesco chuckling away at you. I had my little boy in the trolley too, screaming uncontrollably at the aisle numbers above us. 

Why me? Why Mason? 

Why weren’t we laughing around Tesco? 

Why was shopping such a dreadful experience for us? 

You don’t know it, but you and your little boy are the constant reminder of what me and my little boy are not. 

The few times I’ve seen you since have been the hardest.

I pass you waiting for your little boy when I collect Finley up from nursery. Your picking your son up from the school I was supposed to be stood waiting to pick Mason up from. 

My heart sinks every time I see you. 

I passed you again once with your son walking alongside you in his football gear. 

That killed me, my husband loves football, when we found out Mason was a boy he was so excited to think of their future together-season tickets…coaching Mason’s team…watching his matches. Granted, even if Mason didn’t have autism he may never of played but every man who loves football wants to share that with their son. 

It’s amazing how our lives started the same. We had our babies, we watched them grow, my little boy developed differently than yours. Not in the ‘conventional’ way.

Sometimes I think as myself as selfish, selfish that I went on to have two other children after Mason. 

Should I have just devoted all my time and all my life into him? 

I realize that I needed to have those other babies, when Mason is going through a difficult patch, I needed those babies to get me through those times. A different focus. 

I needed to feel like a mam.

A real mam.

Not a caregiver, not a voice for him, not a nappy changer, not a spoon feeder.

I needed to feel the way Finley & Theo make me feel.

I need the connection back and forth. 

I need to hear ‘mam’ ‘na night mam’ ‘juice please mam’ ‘love you mam’ 

With autism, you don’t get to choose the type of mother you want to be. You become the mother you have to be. 

Me and Trev are not negative about Mason, we are realistic, we hope to be surprised one day but we also know that Mason will always need care, he may never get a job, drive a car, get married and have babies. We set ourselves up for the worst, and we hope for the best.

Hope can sometimes break your heart.

Mason fills my heart with so much joy, I love him so dearly, but there are times it just feels so one sided. 

I always wanted a big family, and having your brothers will help me sleep better at night knowing that when me and Trev are gone, there will still be people here who love you dearly. 

You choose a path for you and your child, the path you imagine and invision. When that path doesn’t go to plan, you feel lost, heartbroken and are threw into the unknown.

I try my upmost best to help any parent at the beginning of their autism journey. It’s such a scary and difficult time. One I felt absolutely lost in.

Our paths altered…we are on a new path now. That’s ok though, we weren’t meant to stay there. 
You went to Italy…I went to Holland.

Welcome to Holland
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A Letter To My Sweet Six Year Old

Well buddy…

Here we are, six years old.

There are not enough words in the world to tell you how much we love you.

You are the tiny little person who made us parents, made us a family and made me a Mammy.

I won’t lie…when I thought about the life we would have together, it never included autism.

That’s ok, it’s something that we as humans can not control, I can become all negative and think of the ‘why me, why us, why you’ speech, but not today. Today we celebrate you. Today I am not talking about autism or it’s downfalls, today I am celebrating all that’s positive with you.


Our Newborn Mason George

For one…you are the most gorgeous, handsome little boy, you have an athletic physique and you suit any clothes/colour combo. 

Your hair is a dream, to cut, the colour is from daddy’s side and it lies perfect.

Your eyes are the deepest, richest brown and are the windows to your soul.


Such amazing eyes. 

Victoria Jayne Photography 

You are so loving, we know it’s mainly on your terms now, but you tolerate my endless kisses and cuddles. There’s nothing more you love than to snuggle up into me or your daddy when your feeling it.

When Finley isn’t driving you up the wall, you have, and always have had so much patience for him. Since a baby he has not left you alone, but at 3 now, he’s getting it.

I know you eat pretty much the same foods all the time but there’s one thing you love the most…chocolate! 

The other night I bought you some little Cadbury eggs from the spar, your face lit up with the biggest smile and you ate the lot! 


Chocolate Monster! 

You don’t care much for toys, but you love investigating new ones we have for Finley or Theo. Your biggest thing has always been books. You learned so much from books, ever since you could hold one. It’s where your photographic memory comes in, that my love is a wonderful gift you have. Your numbers, letters, animals you knew them all from such a young age, you’ve had so many little fads and obsessions we have gone through with you, right up to your favourite at the moment-Mr Men! I do wish I knew more of them and they didn’t always look the blumming same, but I’m learning and I like to name them for you as you request.

For 6 years now I have been your everything, your voice, your mind and it’s been a pleasure to do. This last year I have made a lot of changes in your life. 

You started overnight respite, it was to help us with the two little ones as unfortunately you do sometimes leave us with limited options to do as a family. We need to think about your brothers too bud, they need respite from you, as much as you need it from them. 

The thing is, we can’t see into your future, but we know in our hearts that you will probably stay with us most of our lives. I’ve come to terms with that, but I am also trying to prepare you for your life. You will always need supported living, mammy and daddy won’t be here forever, and we need to start growing your wings and bringing you a bit of independence without us. You’ve been spending so much more time with Aunty Emma, she loves you so much and is learning to see into your mind the way I do. She is educating herself all about you. Sometimes she’s braver than mammy and will take you to more places than I will due to previous bad experiences. 


With Aunty Emma 

Your Granny & Grandy think the world of you too bud, you feel happy and comfortable in their house, it’s home from home. I know for a fact your Grandy wishes he had more time to spend with you. When he doesn’t have to work as much, he’s going to invest so much time with you. He likes to take you for long walks in the woods with our dog Marley, you love the peace and serenity of it.


With Grandy & Marley 

We will always be here for you, we will care for you for our entire lives, but you will need so much more than just us. We are trying to prepare you incase something ever does happen and your not thrown in at the deep end. 

I want you to know how loved you are, by so many. Your very lucky to have the people you do in your life, and we are so very lucky to have you my love. 

Your future scares me, but excites me to see what we’ll accomplish together. 

There’s no party for you this year-it doesn’t interest you. No presents-as you found them stressful at Christmas. Instead we are taking you to Center Parcs. You loved it here. We are going walk, swim, and play in the playground all day. Eat pringles and chocolate til our hearts content. 

This days about you.

We love you Mason, never forget that.

Love

Mammy, Daddy, Finley & Theo xxxxx

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Autism: How it makes me feel

 

Autism.

A word I barely knew exsisted.

A word I never knew would consume my entire life the way it has.

A word that I associated with just one person I had met on the autism spectrum, funnily enough the one person I knew with autism was an older boy who’s hair I used to cut, he was severe and non verbal too, maybe that was my preparation.

I can remember so vividly when my husband first mentioned the word autism.

We were driving home from a shopping trip which hadn’t gone great with a 16month old Mason. I would pass by all the shoppers with children in pushchairs and wonder why Mason wouldn’t ever just behave like all those other children.

My husband is a secondary school teacher so had a little knowledge in that area. With Mason so heavily into books and numbers and having the most amazing memory along with a few other things our minds were already starting to wonder if our perfect little boy was different.

We were at the traffic lights when he said ‘maybe he has a bit of autism’

As any other parent knows…off you go into google and research the hell out of it.

I found an ‘autism checklist’ for about age 2, a long list of common characteristics and found Mason maybe matched about 90% of that list.

I was in complete denial.

At such a young age I would just pass them off as ‘he’ll change’ and often talk myself out of it.

The more time went on there was no talking myself out of it, something wasn’t right.

I had Mason down for a local playgroup for when he turned 2 and thought it may help with him socializing with others his age. At this point I had no professionals involved and I didn’t know where to go or who to contact. I turned up at his Playgroup’s induction and just blurted out to them ‘I think he has autism!’ His playgroup were really good to us and said they knew a lady who could come out and observe Mason to see if there was any concerns and if he needed to be further referred.

That there, was the start of our diagnosis journey.


Mason on his second birthday

A lot of changes happened with how children are diagnosed now, it’s a different process.

For us, he was diagnosed about a year after that playgroup induction.
After he was diagnosed we felt utterly lost. We were heartbroken and trying to figure out a way to help our little boy. We were still learning about autism and at that age we had no idea what Mason would become.

  • How severe was he?
  • Would he ever talk?
  • Would he live a normal life?
  • Would he get married and have kids?
  • Would my new baby boy inherit autism too?
  • What will he contribute to this world?

Those questions that can’t be answered or are unknown is what keeps you up at night.

So after a difficult year, and a new baby in that time too, we found ourselves with a newborn and a 3 year old facing many difficulties.

Mason was accepted into a special needs nursery, which in fact was the best nursery and the best staff available to him at that time.

Although I will never forget the day I received the letter from the local school I had his name down for offering a morning place. It was crushing. I just thought ‘this is the path I chose for you’ and along another path we went.

Mason’s first day of nursery, aged 3 1/2

The nursery flourished Mason, they helped him come out of his shell and he loved it there. I had the most amazing relationship with his key worker Sharron, she genuinely cared for him so much.

It broke my heart when the time came for him to leave.

The next chapter was school.


Mason’s first day of school

Mason settled into school very quickly, he knew many of the children from his class as they filtered over from nursery. The routine there was good for him and by his age now he was ready to have his little mind occupied longer.

He like his teacher Kelly and knew all his classmates in ‘rainbow class’ well.

This is the part where I wish I could tell you how much he progressed.

Aged 4-5 was really the year we learned the severity of his autism. Meltdowns were endless, the weekends and school holidays were dreadful. Mason’s need for continuity and routine were so important and he struggled on those days. We introduced visuals more, visual timetables every day so he knew what to expect, on the whole these did help him, but didn’t solve any of our problems.

It’s funny with autism because you grow with your child. It’s only when you see a child the same age as yours do you realize just how behind in every aspect they are.

We still had no speech, we were still spoon feeding Mason his tea. He would eat the same thing day in day out, every meal, every day.

Potty training was way off, he would just stand and pee anywhere.

We realized that at the age he was, the way autism would impact his life would be massive.

So we began Year 1…


I can honestly say between this time (sept 16) to present has been the worst time we’ve experienced with Mason. Not only have we also added another new baby boy, we have seen a side to Mason we never quite have before.

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Lashing out
  • Violence
  • Self injury

Now this is the side of autism that not many people talk about.

People think that somebody with autism have these amazing gifts. Which many do. Mason has many. They don’t see the pain that a child has to go through.

If I could take autism away, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would rather have Mason with autism than not have him at all, but to see your child, your first born son go through what he goes through is literally earth shattering.

To see your own child so full of anxiety, so full of anger and not know how to express this other than digging his nails so hard into your skin that they draw blood, or to see him punch himself in the head, it brings you emotions you never knew existed.

The worst thing I find, as a mother is, I can’t help him. I can’t fix what goes on in his head, nothing can, I have to make sure he is safe, my other children are safe  and let him ride the meltdown out.

With my three year old, a kiss and cuddle solves everything, that doesn’t work with Mason. I can’t touch him, I can’t hold him and tell him everything is going to be ok.

Mason is unpredictable, he doesn’t have ‘triggers’ he can explode at any given time, any place, anywhere. It’s a ‘state of mind’ he’s in at that time. These dark spells last months at a time. In that time he looks so lost in our world, it’s like he’s on a different planet to us.

What mother wants that for her child.

They say when your child is diagnosed with autism you have to allow yourself a ‘grieving process’ you have to grieve for the child you thought you were going to have. I still don’t think I’m over that process and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will be. I embraced autism into my life, it’s in my heart, but I will never fully accept it. I love my son so much but I still feel so angry it happened to my child, that he can’t live his life like a careless little boy. He will lose out on his childhood, Christmas he will never embrace, the tooth fairy, the amazing feeling of breaking up from school for the summer.

I will always do my best for him, I push him to his limits without overwhelming him but it makes me so sad on what he will miss out on.

Autism isn’t always good, it isn’t always a gift, it’s hard and it’s real life.