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Don't Worry About It!
The Alternative to a Disney Vacation in July-Lake Butler!
Countless Hours of Unintended Research: The Vinegar Solution for Diaper Rash
Why I Wear Pearls
"Good Enough" Mothering

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Mama Time Talk!

Don't Worry About It!

I’ve never been a particularly anxious or fearful person.  Public speaking? No sweat.  Heights? I enjoy the view.  Talking to the cute stranger at the bar?  An exciting challenge (when I was single, at least). 
 As a psychologist, I frequently work with clients who are struggling with anxiety.  Much of the time, their worries and fears are out of proportion to the situation, or are old, reasonable fears that they have carried into new situations wherein the fear no longer makes sense.  I work to help my clients face and challenge their fears:  How does it help or hurt you to worry about things that are outside of your control?  What if you actually had to answer your “what if” questions?  What is the point in fretting about events that haven’t happened yet and are unlikely to?  Is your anxiety taking up more of your energy than addressing the actual thing that you’re anxious about? 
 
 
 As a therapist, I am no stranger to fear and anxiety, but it never truly made sense to me.
And then I had kids.  Talk about getting on the bullet train to Worryville.  I had assumed that having children would help me relate more to my clients with children, help me better understand their joys and challenges as parents and co-parents.  I never dreamed that becoming a parent would help me know my anxious clients in a new way.  Has my infant stopped breathing, or is she just in a really peaceful sleep?  Are all kids this hyper or is this early signs of ADHD?  Do I believe the doctor when she says that my daughter’s occasional stuttering is just her brain moving faster than her mouth or is she going to need a speech therapist?  What will happen to the kids if my husband and I both perish during our “no kids allowed” vacation?  And the list goes on. 
 
And why wouldn’t it?  The world seems like it’s getting scarier all the time.  It seems that you can’t turn on the news or watch The Today Show without hearing about children being stolen from their homes in the middle of the night, being shot by a madman at a movie theater, expiring in the car after being forgotten by the day care workers on a hot day, or teenagers drowning at summer camp or disappearing during their high school senior trip.  It’s no wonder that parents (myself included) are more anxious than ever!  Being a therapist doesn’t help either.  Hearing client after client talk about experiencing every horror that you could imagine means that sometimes these things actually happen.  I hear my clients talk about how their experiences with their parents and family members have caused or contributed to the emotional and relational struggles they experience as an adult, and it leaves me convinced that my daughters will grow up to have eating disorders because we had power struggles over eating broccoli, low self-esteem because I couldn’t tell that those squiggles were supposed to be a giraffe, and that they will be emotionally repressed because I told her that those fake tears weren’t getting her an extra episode of Dora the Explorer.  As the more realistic fears (What if she has a hard time making friends at school?) blend together with the less likely ones (What if that bruise on her knee is really a sign of childhood leukemia?), it is easy to get lost in the “what ifs” and become racked with fear.
So what’s a worried mama to do?  Well, I try to remind myself of the things that work for my clients.  I take a deep breath.  I talk to my husband, who I know will bring me back down to Earth and remind me that my parenting anxiety is lifting me into orbit.  I answer my “what if” questions and try to take reasonable steps toward making the changes and preparations that are within my control (like writing a will with guardianship instructions, and praising my daughter when she shares well with others).  I try to remember that children are incredibly resilient.  And I remind myself that my girls will grow up knowing that it’s OK to seek out professional help if they ever need or want to.  I tell myself to let go of the things that are out of my control, do the best I can with what I have, and to go with the flow as much as possible.  I occasionally plead quietly with God to please keep my girls happy, healthy, and safe.  And although some days it’s easier than others, I try as much as possible to tell myself, “Don’t worry about it.”

The Alternative to a Disney Vacation in July-Lake Butler!

Please don’t get me wrong-we love Disney! There is nothing better than seeing my little princess's face light up when she sees Minnie or the pure joy I feel when watching my son dance with Mickey.  Since they are both still little (age 4 and 10), we go at least once a year and have a truly wonderful time. However, when my handsome military husband announced that he would be having military duty in Orlando in July- I gasped! Orlando in July-I could not think of a place I would not want to go more(except perhaps the Sahara!)!
 
 In my mind’s eye I envisioned miles of endless Disney lines in the heat while my tired and impatient children whined about the wait. To make matters worse, I knew this would be a single parent experience as my husband would be busy with meetings and unable to experience the “Magic” with us. Still, I am always the first one to try to find a way for us to be together as a family when my husband has military duty away. We have spent way too many Christmas days and other holidays apart while he was off defending “truth, justice, and the American way”! I really couldn’t complain-he was not after all going to Iraq or Afghanistan-this was Florida!
 
I decided to get creative and develop my criteria! What could we do in an average of 95 degree heat with 100% humidity that would be fun, engaging, and of course “exhaust” my busy active children? What would not cost a fortune and would still be a reasonable drive for my husband each day?  Where could we go that would be low key and provide some opportunities for evening “romance” once the kids were all snug in their beds? A few quick searches on the Internet and I was dancing in anticipation of our upcoming trip! We had found the alternative to Disney in July-five days at Lake Butler in Windermere, Florida!
 
Part of a chain of 11 lakes, Lake Butler, is located in the historic town of Windermere which was established in 1889. I soon found that Lake Butler was a bit of “old Florida” that had already been discovered by such residents as Shaquille O’Neil, Tiger Woods and Wesley Snipes.  With 1700 acres, Lake Butler is a popular place for all kinds of water sports and is known for its abundance of largemouth bass and blue gill (not that I was planning on catching any). Lake Butler clearly met all of my criteria for a perfect July escape and more some! Now all that was left was for me to find a place for us to stay.
 
 
 
 
I love www.vrbo.com and www.homeaway.com for locating reasonable priced vacation accommodations. I am all about space and convenience when we travel with our children!  I love renting a private home, cabin or condo where we have our own kitchen and our own bedrooms. We can even cook our own meals if we want to (and we usually do!) and save additional money to spend on other priorities. I have been using both of these websites for over ten years and have never had a problem. All of the owners have been wonderful and the homes usually more than we have ever expected. Some owners have even become like our own family as we return year after year and look forward to our reunions! For this trip we found an adorable old Florida cabin built in the 1920’s located directly on Lake Butler. With everything needed for a comfortable family vacation, the cabin even had its own private sandy beach and came with kayaks and a plethora of water toys!
 
I am happy to share that our trip was a wonderful success and after a little grocery shopping at the local Publix-we never left or cabin and lovely beach! In the morning I had breakfast with my husband before the children got up from bed and together we watched the brilliant orange sun rise over the lake as we sipped our morning coffee in our adorable air conditioned lakeside sun room!  After the children had their breakfasts, we swam and kayaked most of the day (only interrupted by nap time for Mama and the kids-yeah!). We even got some homeschooling in while we swam as we had the opportunity to witness the Osprey’s nesting, hunting for fish, and feeding the noisy babies.  We later researched more about the Osprey together on our Ipad (which is so amazing for homeschooling BTW!)
 
Other wildlife was also abundant and the children loved the turtles, frogs, herons, pelicans, dragonflies and even a huge furry Newfoundland dog from the home next door! In the evenings, after the children went to bed, my husband and I got to gaze at the lake and each other and enjoyed a few dramatic lightening storms across the lake! After this experience I can strongly recommend an “Old Florida” vacation in July!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Countless Hours of Unintended Research: The Vinegar Solution for Diaper Rash

Countless Hours of Unintended Research: The Vinegar Solution for Diaper Rash
As a new mom, I have found my smartphone to be the most useful tool these last four and a half months. Similar to a lot of first-time moms, I prepared for pregnancy, labor and delivery, and life with a newborn as best as I could...by voraciously reading everything I could put my hands on before my little one was born. This was very helpful for a person like me, because (as you can imagine) I was understandably nervous about bringing a new life into my home. And. as an early career psychologist, I had a lot to do to get my private practice up and running too!
 
Many nights, I would spend countless hours researching information about newborns on my iPhone while my husband laid beside me in bed fast asleep (oh, the difference between men and women!). These investigations were primarily fueled by my own questions and normal anxieties about being a first-time mom and now looking back I realize how much knowledge I have gained and I thought why not share the wealth? So, in short, I want to post one of the top things I have learned through the Internet on today's blog...
 
When my son had severe diaper rash in months 1 and 2, I was beside myself with worry. I rushed him to the pediatrician, frantically sought out advice on Facebook from my friends and family, and tried a myriad of things to help clear that little bottom up. And when I say "severe," I really mean "severe." The pediatrician used the word "lacerations" to describe the hot, red, deep gashes that developed seemingly inexplicably in a matter of days. At first, I thought maybe it was thrush (see http://www.babycenter.com/0_yeast-diaper-rash_10913.bc for more info). I had experienced some intense pain while nursing my baby, but originally I had chalked this up to the process of what people kept referring to as "toughening up" the nipples. Anyway, the pediatrician ruled this out and advised me to apply steroidal cream to clear up the rash. No success. In fact, my little boy's bottom looked worse! Thankfully, his mood was completely unaffected by the rash (he was happy go lucky throughout the ordeal) but every time I changed his diaper I had to fight back tears. I tried Desitin, Balmex, and Vaseline creams and ointments; tried to "air out" my baby's butt; replaced commercial wipes with cotton balls and water - all to no avail. The lacerations persisted. Then, in the course of my research late one night as I scrolled through page and after page on my phone's small screen, I came across vinegar as a rinse for people who use cloth diapers (my baby is an exclusive Pampers "Sensitive" user). I decided, what the heck, why not give vinegar a try? I went to the store and bought some distilled white vinegar (not the cleaning type) and made a 50/50 concoction of white vinegar and water. I applied a small amount on myself first to see how it felt. It had a cooling sensation and did not sting at all. At the next diaper change, I soaked a cotton ball in the concoction I created and gently patted my baby's butt down until it was nice and clean. Immediately, I could see the raw gashes drying up. Next, I used a tissue to dry my baby's butt and smeared some Boudreaux's butt paste on before closing up the clean diaper. In less than a week, this miracle solution facilitated near-closure of the "lacerations" and when I checked with the pediatrician she gave me the OK to continue using the solution. For several weeks, I continued this process - slowly diluting the vinegar solution from 50/50 to 40/60 to 30/70 and at 3 months my baby was able to go back to using commercial wipes! I was very pleased with the result and thrilled that a homeopathic remedy had worked. I would say the only downside to this vinegar cleanse is the smell, but, hey, if Windex can bottle a vinegar-based cleaner...

Why I Wear Pearls

 
 
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I have always loved the simple beauty of pearls but it is the rich symbolism of the pearl that has made it my signature gem. Pearls are my gentle reminder that beauty can emerge from the pain and challenges that life can often bring.  This is a message that can be often overlooked or difficult to grasp when you are in the midst of challenges. For me, pearls are a tangible symbol and a celebration of our resiliency.      
 
 
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   Myths and legends associated with pearls have been passed down through the centuries. The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were formed when rain fell into the oyster and they were believed to promote marital harmony and happiness.  Wearing pearls on a wedding day was thought to prevent tears in the bride’s future marriage. The Knights of the middle ages believed that pearls had a magical quality that would offer them protection as they rode into battle.  In Japan and other ancient Asian cultures, pearls were associated with the tears of mermaids and angels and as such are supposed to provide a calming effect for all humans who are lucky enough to wear pearls.
 
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Tahitian black pearls, often considered the most unique and precious of all pearls, were thought to be gifts from God and symbolized hope for wounded hearts, eternal love and affection. Drinking crushed pearls was thought by Asian Emperors to be the secret to longevity and ageless beauty.  In addition, the Chinese believed that pearls were created in the brains of dragons and pearls of wisdom could be obtained by the act of slaying a dragon.  Many legends associate the creation of pearls with the moon. It was even thought that thunder created the imperfections that are often found in pearls.
 
 
 
 
Natural pearls, created from an “irritant” trapped within an oyster, are truly rare and their value is often related to their luster or shine. Natural pearls can take as long as ten years to develop fully. That perhaps is the pearls loveliest gift. The shine that comes not from an easy life without conflict but from a life well-lived! It is this process that has acted as a powerful metaphor in my own life and it is why I wear pearls today.
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I wear pearls for my handsome husband Michael. A Gulf-War Veteran and Purple Heart recipient who after the war battled with crippling and devastating  mysterious effects of Gulf War illness. My strong handsome husband, a West Point graduate and Special Forces Officer had gone off to war invincible and dedicated to his mission but had returned barely able to stand the touch of his clothes on his body. Despite his pain and extreme fatigue, Michael never gave up and never complained. Eventually, he was able to recover fully with the help of Chiropractic and other nutritional interventions.  In time, his experience motivated him to help to heal others and he became a doctor of Chiropractic who now helps others with chronic debilitating illnesses such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines and autism. It is because of my husband’s dedication as a father and gifts as a doctor that my son now has a chance for a future.
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I wear pearls for my sweet 10 year old son Geoffrey.  Over time, he has emerged from a world of darkness and silence to one of connection and joy. Despite the rejections he often experiences as a child with special needs, he has a generosity of spirit and inner light that is an inspiration to all that take the time to get to know him. Every day heteaches me to be patient for the pearls to develop as a RESULT of the irritants not DESPITE them. 
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I wear pearls for my lovely 4 year old daughter Leilani Rose.  She is our vivacious little “pearl” that came at the end of a sometimes tearful four year long “pregnancy” journey to adopt a daughter from China.  While many families who traveled to China brought home arm loads of gifts, my husband brought home three simple strands of pearls (Snowy white, black with shimmers of gold and blue and a strand of pale pink).  It was the perfect gift. Leilani and I talk about the pearls that came home with her from China.  I hope that these pearls will be a metaphor for her life as well. I will teach her to look for the “blessings in disguise” in her own life and to embrace her journey with all its imperfections.  I will encourage her to be patient in her growth as a woman and to understand that who she is at 15 will be very different from who she is at 30 or at 50 (Thank goodness).  We will give Leilani one of these strands of pearls to wear on her wedding day and with God’s blessings my son will be able to give a strand to his bride as well.
Finally, I wear pearls out of gratitude for the pearls in my own life. These are the people and the experiences that have touched my life, guided, supported and confronted me to live my life fully and to take risks despite the pain. These pearls are my role models-my grandmother whose own mother committed suicide and leaving her in an orphanage as a child who never gave up hope and later established the first Nursing School of its kind in the United States. These pearls are my own mother, who courageously raised two daughters as a single mother.
 
These pearls are also my friends, colleagues, and clients who faced cancer and other chronic illnesses,infertility, miscarriages, stillborns, divorces, childhood abuse, and other losses with grace, beauty and kindness.
 
Pearls are the birthstone for June but I believe pearls are for all of us! Next time you wear pearls take a moment to reflect on the pearls in your own life. What are your pearls? Who are the pearls in your life?  Are you in the midst of developing your luster or are you already a radiant resilient pearl? Why do you wear pearls? I would love to hear your stories so either email  me at drtamaragrosz@mamatime.net or post your thoughts below!
 
 
 
 
 

"Good Enough" Mothering

I have to admit that I’ve always struggled with a certain amount of perfectionism and never quite feeling good enough.  This tendency has made itself known in several areas of my life, impacting my academics, spirituality, and career.  It has also had an influence in my relationships, including my roles as friend, daughter, wife, and mother.  We all want the best for our children and it pains us to think that we have wronged them in anyway.  Maybe we feel we made the wrong decision, didn’t pick and choose our battles carefully, were extra irritable, or didn’t adequately model a value or behavior we would like to instill in our children.  Self deprecation inevitably follows. 
Dr. Jackie offers workshops and re for mothers in the southeast.Then we stir the pot more by comparing ourselves to other moms that seem to have it all together and never make mistakes; the dreaded “super mom”  who seems to effortlessly glide through motherhood, handling those daily irritations with such grace that you end up wondering what is wrong with you!  Juggling soccer, swim, violin, tutoring, without a care in the world for their own needs and desires that the only explanation for your feelings is that you are a horrible selfish mother.    
Well here is what I have learned through my own experiences of raising a 14-year old and counseling other moms out there: We all make mistakes, it is important to take care of ourselves as mothers, and the reality is that children can be frustrating!  Yet I never fail to hear moms questioning their parenting skills, telling themselves that they aren’t good enough, and reprimanding themselves for ever feeling frustrated or discouraged.  I believe that moms today are bombarded with images and messages of the “supermom” and we are chastised for ever having the thought that our children are anything but a wonderful blessing and our sweet little perfect angels.  Now don’t get me wrong, of course our children are blessings and we should rejoice in knowing that we have been chosen to assume the awesome responsibility of raising them.  However, this is really easy to remember during moments of peace and joy, when our children are listening to us, cleaning up after themselves, looking cute, sleeping through the night, etc.  It may also be easy to remember when we are free from stresses in other areas of our lives.  It may NOT be so easy to remember, however when our children are smearing poo across the wall, instigating sleepless nights that cause us to meander through life like the walking dead, or screaming bloody murder in a public venue.  It may also not be easy to remember when we are going through difficult times elsewhere in our lives.  It is during these moments that we need to be reminded that we are doing the best we can, that the thoughts and feelings we are having are normal, and that children are resilient!  Often what is a big deal to us is a mere blip in their existence.  After all, children tend to care way more about their peers anyway! 
 I have talked to countless mothers who have expressed wishing that more people would bring these issues to light, so my hope is that I can encourage you with this blog.  Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott refers to the “good enough mother” and I believe that striving for this versus perfection will not only free us from inner torment but make us better parents as well.  After all, our job as mothers is to help our children develop into happy and capable adults.  If we can trust ourselves and give ourselves credit for the mamas we are, all of that energy we waste on trying to be the perfect mother can be redirected towards joyful parenting and being more present with our children.
*Shameless plug – if you struggle with practicing adequate self-care and dealing with the frustrations of motherhood I will be addressing these issues in 2 chapters of an upcoming book from MamaTime!  Keep your eyes peeled!
 

Finally! I am a Soccer Mom!

 
As a mother of a child with special needs I have sat on the sidelines for years excitedly cheering for children of close friends who danced in recitals, played baseball, basketball, football and of course-soccer! It is a bittersweet feeling, participating in these events, you are so proud of your friend’s child but at the same time it may be a continuous reminder of what your own child is not able to do.  It seemed that all of the mothers around me had a busy schedule of practices and games almost every night. While I was thankful that our family was not caught up in that whirlwind schedule, there was of course a part of me that mourned for the fact that our son could not participate in these “normal” milestones of childhood.
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When you are in the midst of trying to get your child well you have to work to maintain hope every day-sometimes every minute.  Doubt can creep in and you wonder if your child will ever be able to talk, to catch a ball, learn to read and the list goes on and on.  I learned from Geoffrey’s neurodevelopmental specialist, Bob Doman founder of the National Association for Child Development (www.nacd.org), to focus on Geoffrey’s potential rather than a limiting label. During our quarterly meetings with Bob, he would remind me that Geoffrey had unlimited potential and that if we provided him with the right interventions with the optimal level of frequency and intensity then he would improve!
 
I also have learned that I had to take risks and allow Geoffrey a chance to succeed. Like all children, sometimes he would succeed and sometimes he would not. Most importantly, much of the time he could succeed with time and practice! When a friend told us about a special needs soccer league and invited him to participate I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Could he do it? Would it be too overwhelming for him? Would the other kids be “mean to him? What if it was a total disaster? Should I put him through this?
 
The risk was worth it! Geoffrey actually asks to go to soccer and is so excited about going every week.  Yes, after eight weeks he still beeps Coach Keith’s nose during practice and hugs the pretty volunteer coach assistants when he is supposed to be kicking the ball but he loves soccer and is improving. He is happy to see the other team members and the older boys are actually very helpful with the younger ones. So, as I watch my beautiful son kicking the ball on the field, I, at long last, give a cheer for him! I then realize that I am finally now a SOCCER MOM and it feels great!
 

Making Peace with Returning to Work

I had been preparing for this moment since before my son, now 6 months old, was born, but as I handed him to his new daycare provider my heart was breaking. Questions flooded my mind. How could I leave my beautiful son with someone else for 9 hours a day? Would he know how much I love him if I wasn’t there to play, comfort, change and feed him everyday? Would his attachment to me lessen? Was I making the biggest mistake of my life?
 
 
I thought I had prepared myself for the pain of separation but, like childbirth, nothing could really prepare me for reality. I felt like I was being ripped in two. I almost called my office and told them that I couldn’t do it; that being a mom was going to be my full-time job until my son was in kindergarten.  Instead, I gave him a final kiss, attempted a reassuring smile and hurried to my car where I sat and cried my eyes out. I had struggled my way through 6 years of graduate school and taken on tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt to give myself a fulfilling career. I owed it to myself and to my family to give being a working mom a chance.
 
 
Two months later, I am still struggling with dropping him off. It has become easier but I still have my tearful moments in the car before turning the ignition.  I have developed mantras that help me through the day. “I am setting a good example for my son.” “Being at daycare is fun and enriching.” “I am not alone.” “I am making the right decision for my family.” “We need the money.” Telling myself these things helps lessen the pain and guilt that I feel. Yet, it is there hovering in the background.
 
 
Not that I didn’t feel pain and guilt when I was a stay-at-home mother. I loved spending time with my son, but the part of me that loves to work in an office, the part of me that desperately needs adult time and an identity outside of ‘mother’ was crying out for attention.  I was lonely, worried about money, frustrated and at times bored when I wasn’t working outside of the home. And I felt incredibly guilty about having those emotions.  Being a stay-at-home mother did not work for my personality and, because of that, was not the best solution for my family.
 
 
So what is the solution? The truth is, I haven’t figured that out yet. I am still trying to find the right balance between motherhood and career for my self and my family.  One thing I know for sure: I need to let go of the guilt I feel for working outside of the home. My guilt isn’t helping anyone, least of all my son.
 
 
In a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Dr. Anne McMunn of University College London, found that working mothers have better health than non-working mothers. Dr. McMunn also found that having a mother who works outside of the home does not harm children's social and emotional behavior. This information is balm to my working-mother’s heart. It gives me external validation for my choice that I can cling to when I am drowning in guilt and missing my son.
 
 
Until I find the right balance, I plan on doing this. I will be fully present when I am with my son. That means putting my smart phone down, turning off the TV, getting on the floor, reading a story, reveling in the weight of him in my arms and the sweet smell of his hair, and not worrying about what’s for dinner or the bills on the table or the presentation I have to make at the end of the week.  I will give him my best and fullest self, and that will be enough.
 
 
 
 
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Separation, Isolation & Connection

 I can often find so many ways to feel separate, different and isolated. For example, I am an “older mom” of a 15 year old son.  My peers who have children are no longer actively parenting. Their children are independent adults with children of their own. The parents of my son’s friends and classmates are significantly younger, often with young children to parent for years to come.
  I am in the dreaded category of “special needs mom” as my son has ASD, a.k.a. autism. My son isn’t playing sports, or excelling academically or getting ready to drive. 
 Last year I did a crazy thing and took yoga teacher training, making a dramatic career change. Guess who was the oldest student in the training? Guess who didn’t have a dance, gymnastic or athletic background?
    Okay, so I have never been “the girl next door”.  I wasn’t popular, didn’t date much, made my own clothes and had a weird sense of humor. Many of these qualities still hold true today.
 But I have learned that when I reach outside myself, my self-fashioned isolation, I find amazing connection. Talking with another parent about our son’s struggles with adolescence dissolves all our superficial differences. Sharing my thoughts with a young yoga teacher about creating a welcoming & fun space to practice yoga unites us in a common, passionate vision. And when I let it out (instead of taking things so seriously) people sometimes even appreciate my sense of humor.
 

Thoughts on Giving Thanks for Small Miracles

When you have a child with special needs it can be sometimes difficult being around “typical” families. The contrast between what friend’s children are doing and what your own child is not doing can be immense. Friends unintentionally brag about this soccer game and that ballet recital usually without a sense that you are struggling with your same age child’s ability to say “Mama” for the first time. Initially, you grieve and inside you may struggle with the seemingly random unfairness of it all.  Some of us get angry and withdraw from those “typical” families. Others may be lost in blaming themselves or others for their child’s disability. It can be difficult to be hopeful and to see your child’s capacity for growth when the gap between your child and those “typical children” seems to widen every day.
 
If you are lucky, somewhere along the way, you realize that what those “typical” children are doing doesn’t really matter. It is not a comparison. You look long and hard at that beautiful child in your arms and you decide to embrace the small miracles. You begin to celebrate a connection when there was none before. You rejoice in eye contact. You revel at being able to sleep through the night -even if it took until age 4 to get there! You stop worrying about standardized “milestones” and instead create your own! Instead of looking for what is not happening-you begin to notice all that is!
 
Focusing daily on the small miracles can create a positive dynamic between you and your child which encourages more growth. The stress diminishes and is replaced by a sense of peace and inner joy which I have found has generalized to other aspects of my life. I savor the simple moments we have together as mother and child. We laugh and we sing. We watch the sunsets. We take time to make a simple meal together, laughing while we prepare it slowly together. My son has become my "Sous Chef", and over time, an amazing little chef in his own right!
 
 I think in many ways I lead a more joyful life now than many of my more “typical” friends. I see many of them losing perspective about what matters. I see some of their relationships with their children suffering with the external demands that their busy lives place on them-rushing from one activity to another. Do I still grieve at times? Yes of course. Do I still worry about the future? Yes of course but focusing on the small miracles grounds me.
 
Self-help author Melody Beattie says "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity… It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
 
 If you are a mother of a child with special needs, I encourage you, every day to take some time to jot down the small miracles of that day. Get a small journal and start this week. Reflect, on these small steps, not just at thanksgiving time but every day-you and your child are creating miracles together-celebrate them!  
 
After a period of time has passed, you will re-read those journals and suddenly you will be aware that those simple miracles have suddenly turned into HUGE miracles! Over time, We have gone from a world of silence to actual conversations! Huge Miracles!
We hope to see you at a Mama Time Retreat or Workshop soon!
 
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