Tag Archives: grandmother

Celebrating Grandparents (Particularly Those in Special-Needs Families!)

20 Sep

September is National Grandparents Month, and I’m overwhelmed once more thinking how much my parents have done for my family, particularly my 15-year-old daughter with autism.  My mother flew from California to join us for Paige’s neurology appointment in the spring of 2000, the horrible one during which she received the definitive autism diagnosis.  A year later, my parents moved here from the Silicon Valley to support us.  Five years after that, when I gave birth to Paige’s baby brother, my mom came over every school morning before 7 a.m. to watch Chip so I could get Paige off to school.

My dad’s no slacker, either.  He’s provided boundless financial and emotional support—neither of which I can imagine doing without.  He has bonded with our neurotypical son, Chip, to the extent that they have LEGO playdates, go see movies together and just talk.

All grandparents who choose to involve themselves (in a thoughtful, encouraging way) in the lives of their children’s kids deserve high praise.  It can be tricky sometimes with a disabled child, especially one like my own who is non-verbal.

In honor of National Grandparents Month, Autism Speaks (the nationwide nonprofit founded by grandparents of a child with autism) has created A Grandparent’s Guide to Autism.  This family support tool kit is designed to help guide and encourage grandparents to establish positive and successful relationships with their grandchildren and the rest of their families.

Click here to read A Grandparent’s Guide to Autism or visit Grandparents Autism Network at www.ganinfo.org.


12 May

A couple weeks ago, after much hemming and hawing, I decided to donate my kids’ baby dressers (changing tables) to Goodwill.

My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while.  After months of trying to organize our kids’ rooms, we finally decided the dressers had to go.  They were big and bulky, taking up way too much room in what are already fairly small spaces.  And they didn’t even hold all our kids’ clothes!  We needed to just get rid of them, and hopefully someone else could use them.

But the first time I mentioned it to the kids, they freaked.  “What about our stickers?!” they cried.  Oh crap, I had forgotten about the stickers.  For years, we’ve let them decorate their dressers with stickers – I think it came about one bleary-eyed morning when we were just too tired to say no.  Every time each of our kids got a sticker anywhere (the doctor, a festival, a birthday party, the museum), they came home and put it on their dresser.  And our son, who had dozens of stickers on his, could remember where almost every single one had come from.

So I had to work really hard to convince the kids that we were doing the right thing, but I finally managed.  Apparently, however, I was the one who needed more convincing.  As the two men at Goodwill unloaded the last dresser out of my van, I surprised myself by bursting into tears.  My chest clenched up as I felt a panic in seeing the dressers move out of sight.  It was only the presence of my kids that prevented me from yelling, “Wait!  I changed my mind!!”

I know they’re just pieces of furniture, but that’s where I changed my kids’ diapers when they were babies, gave them their first washcloth baths after coming home from the hospital, and snorked out their noses when they were sick.  They’re monuments; tangible pieces of history in our lives, proudly displaying many moments of fun.  The top drawers, only recently emptied of big-kid underwear, used to hold nothing but diapers and wipes.

But I know it’s not exactly the furniture that I was pining for.  It was the infancy of my children, the brief and magical time when they were so small, so snuggly, so new.  Now I have a 5-year-old about to start Kindergarten and a 3-year-old who is as sassy as a teenager.  And it hurts because those baby days are such a distant memory…

I have the same feelings whenever I’m near the neighborhood where my grandparents used to live.  I always feel compelled to drive by what used to be their house and stop outside, just looking at it.  Their house was the family meeting place.  Every weekend, my mother’s siblings could be found there –  playing cards, making jokes, and laughing so loud my ears would hurt.  It’s a time in my life for which I am constantly nostalgic.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, and my grandparents are gone.  Sometimes, the physical objects that are left behind remind me so strongly of those memories, it takes my breath away.

I did manage to give up the changing tables, but I’ll never stop driving by that house.

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