My first born saved my life. I often say this and people think I am being dramatic, but it is true. I was a high school dropout with no ambition on the fast track to nowhere watching my friends leave for college and the next chapter in their lives. At the time I was busy making one bad choice after another. It was not until I saw that little blue stick that all of a sudden, my life took on new meaning. I was 19 and going to be a mom. I had been dating my high school boyfriend on and off for a few months, and honestly, I didn’t know if he would stick around. When I finally decided to tell him weeks after I found out, the only thing he said was “I know” and then held me for a long time. That was 24 years ago; we will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary this August!
It has not been all sunshine and roses, mind you. Being a young mom is HARD. Being a young mom to an autistic child is even harder. Quinn was born on a gorgeous Mother’s Day in May. He was perfect and made our hearts grow bigger every minute. Everything seemed to be going according to the “What to Expect the First Year” plan until the chapter on talking. He had never uttered a word, made very little eye contact, and was fixated on certain objects. This was the 1990s when autism spectrum and Asperger’s were not terms being widely used. It took us years to find a diagnosis, what I like to call a street sign. It merely pointed us in the right direction and never defined him. As hard as it was, we did not want his identity to be wrapped up in his challenges. Today he is a thriving, witty student at UW-Milwaukee.
My husband Alex and I are parents to two other beautiful children, Madeleine who at 16 is a force to be reckoned with, and Loghan who is turning 4 and marches to the beat of his own drum. He can even sometimes make me feel like I have lost the parenting “touch.” Yes, we have very large spaces between our children. We often joke that we have one-a-decade kids! This can make for navigating challenging issues including which game to play, what movie to watch, curfew time, and career choice all in the space of an hour. It is an amazing experience. The big kids are loving, mini parents to the little guy and they themselves have grown so much by having Logi in their lives.
As for Alex and me, we went from having nothing to having a little to building a successful business out of our basement. It has been a lot of long nights and ramen noodle dinners but at the end of the day, I am married to my best friend who has seen me at my best and at my worst and loves both versions.
I think parenting is an exciting journey, the course keeps changing and all you can do is keep moving forward. The important part is the people you invite along who share the experience. I am thrilled to be a part of MkeMB and cannot wait to learn about all of your travels.