Sunday, August 15, 2010

Motivation Monday: The Very Personal Edition

This weeks post is going to be different from any other post I will probably ever write. It will definitely be the hardest one I ever write. I apologize now if it is long, but there is a LOT I need to say. If only I can find the right words to say it. On this Monday, I want you all to know me, and what REALLY motivates me to run. To you, this will all read easily, but as I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes, know that the typing isn't flowing as smoothly. Man, none of this is making any sense yet, but it will, I hope. Usually, writing comes very naturally to me and the words just zoom out. But not now. My hands are shaking above the keyboard as I am about to write something, that I never have and share a part of my family with the world that hasn't been shared. To explain what I am babbling about and what my motivation is I want to introduce you all to someone...

This is my oldest son Peyton. He is 3 years old and he...has ASD, better known as autism. Wow, that felt incredibly liberating to just type that. He was diagnosed only a few months ago and even though others had expressed suspicions for a while, I really did not consider it until this summer. So this is all very new to us. We never want it to seem like we are ashamed or hiding what Peyton has, that is why I want to always be very open about it. Perhaps, had I been more willing to talk about it sooner, Peyton could have been helped sooner. But no, I was the Mom that was convinced that everyone was just autistic crazy and my son was just behind in his speech and, well, unique. I mean, he wasn't always in his own world and he knew who we were, plus the kid was smart and had a great memory. Of course, I would later learn that is very normal in kids with autism. By the time I was watching him choose lamp posts as play mates over his cousins and his language wasn't improving, I became racked with guilt. Shame on me for lying to the doctors, and myself. Sure, we all want our kids to be normal, but just believing strongly that they are doesn't work.

When we took him to the doctors and he watched him twirl his headband over and over in his hands while singing to himself, he confirmed our diagnosis. He was high functioning, but yes he had ASD. We would start him in occupational and speech therapy as soon as possible. Jesse and I thought we had prepared ourselves for this, and we kept it together quite well at the office, but when we got home we began to unravel. It wasn't that we felt like we had lost a child, but we had lost that imagined future of our child. Suddenly the what ifs? came pouring into our heads and there was no off switch. What if he couldn't go to a normal school? What if he was the weird kid that everyone made fun of? What if he never got married? I desperately wanted to know all of my children and what if I never was able to really know Peyton or him me? Then, there was all the care Peyton would need. Neither of us considered ourselves to be the worlds best parent and now it was up to us to give Peyton the best chance for success possible. What if we weren't up to the task. Up till then life with Peyton had been a constant struggle; frequent outbursts, violence, shouting, low obedience, lack of communication, boredom with people, picky eater and over the last two months many of his symptoms have been getting worse, probably because of all the new stresses. To make matters worse, I suffer from depression and anxiety (you're just learning so much about us aren't you?) so those close to me were afraid I would get stuck in a hole of depression and wouldn't be able to work my way through the rest of the grieving process. Things looked grim. People tried to console us with "Well, at least it isn't something worse." Yeah, that doesn't help at all. Tell someone who's relatives died "Well at least everyone you know isn't dead." See if it helps.

We needed to grieve, all the books said so. It was just a matter of how long it would take us to get to that last step. For some it takes years, my dad can apparently do it in a night, I am somewhere in between. It may not seem like I am almost through, but I am.. Peyton is the most amazing kid. He can work his way around the computer like no ones business, he is actually super athletic and has quite the jumping skills, when he wants to be he is the sweetest big brother, comforting Brady and bringing him blankets,  he loves numbers and counting and really does have a great memory, and  he loves us and wants to be around us. Once we are able to get all of his good qualities to shine, I am hoping people won't notice his "quirks" as much. Getting there will be a challenge. Everyday will be a struggle. But this is worth it. My son deserves the best chance at a normal life he can get.

Bringing this back to running and motivation... Peyton is my training motivation for two reasons, one more selfish than the other. Like I said, life with Peyton can be hard, frustrating, tear inducing, and just plain exhausting. Some times, I need to be just me. I feel most like me when I am doing something athletic. I train to get a break, to destress, to refresh.  There are days when I need a breather and to get away and feel nothing but raw strength and power coming out from me. See, I told you the one reason was kind of selfish. The other reason being, I want to be the best Mom I can be for Peyton, and that includes being healthy and happy. We started this training journey right around the time we found out about Peyton and it has done wonders to keep us sane. For both of us, having these athletic goals keeps us focused (distracted) on something else at times when Peyton can become all consuming and being in shape gives us the energy to really be there for him.
Has training fixed everything? Of course not. I still stare at the white hospital walls while he is in therapy and wonder if my son will ever get to know the cool, awesome person that he is. I wonder if he will know that I love him so much it hurts to think about that. But the point is, it helps. Running, biking, swimming, may not solve all of our problems but if it helps to improve our lives, then that is the motivation we need to get our rears in gear. I struggled with whether or not to tell you all this. Is it too personal? Will they care? Then I thought about the things I have read on your blogs. This is a world where we become friends with those we may never meet, and give true encouragement to them. We share our triumphs and our struggles hoping others will care and share back. Well, Peyton is my life's greatest struggle and triumph. It is not something I will ever be able to cross off a chart saying I completed it, and that scares me, but there it is. My son. My motivation.

19 comments:

Alesha said...

Okay reading that made me cry!!! I love you Tressa and I love Peyton!! He really is an amazing little boy!!

Stacie said...

Tressa, I think you and Jesse are both amazing parents. I think it is great that you have chosen to share this with all of us. I think its just another step that will help you work through it. I know it will be an ongoing mission for you both as parents. The minute we have our children they truly do become our most important gift and treasure. I hope you know that Jason and I are always here for you. I have enjoyed getting to hang out with you guys and that definitely includes the boys. Jason had a great time with Peyton last week. Hopefully we can help to distract you and help ease some of the stress that goes along with your situation. We are here for you anytime. We love you guys!!!

P said...

Thank you for sharing this. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to put this all "out there." I have several friends with autistic sons and I know what a challenge it can be...and also what joy those kids bring. Cheers to a happy and healthy life for Peyton!

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) said...

I know how hard that must have been for you to write that post, but thank you for sharing it with us. I can't pretend to know what you're going through, but I know how, as parents, we always want the best for our children. I think the best we can ask for is that they are healthy, loved, and happy. And it sounds like your little boy is just that b/c he has parents like you and your husband. There are wonderful resources out there now for autistic children that there weren't only a couple of years ago. I know it will be a challenge, but I also believe that you will all get through this!

Diana Tries-A-Tri! said...

Amazing. You're amazing, your husband is amazing and that adorable little guy is amazing. Thank you for sharing. At the very least you know that Peyton will always have parents who love him unconditionally and will do anything for him, and that's an incredible gift. It's a struggle, but it sounds like you have a great support system (and coping methods) and you're a good Mama for getting him the help he needs. Keep up the great work, and thanks for sharing with us!

Rae said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. You are amazing person and mother. You are going a great job!

Maxi Fortend said...

Thank you so much for sharing, you and your family are an inspiration! Yep, it's a process to go from why me, why him, why us to handling it. Just remember, all you have to do is get through one moment at a time. It's what I do with my retinitis pigmentosa (legally blind, could go all the way blind). We had a scare with my son recently thinking he had a retinal disease (turned out not) and my husband had lots of challenges with that. Boy did I learn alot about what was in his head! Open communication is totally key! Hang in there! We are here for you!

Cynthia O'H said...

I work in Special Education and many of my students have ASD or are on the spectrum. Having a diagnosis suddenly makes things easier for parents; many have told me "Know that I know, this is so much easier." You're fortunate that you have that information now.

You can't predict what is going to be in any child's future. One who is "normal" may face teasing and be isolated. Often, kids with ASD develop one or two close friendships, and they keep those friends forever; those friends bring them into social circles.

Peyton has many, many strengths. Remember that and build on them. Use those to develop other skills. Everything needs to be structured and scheduled; rewards are important.

If you want someone to "talk" to, feel free to e-mail me. I'm happy to help in whatever way I can.

Anonymous said...

Tressa, that may me tear up. You guys are great parents and our doing good with Peyton. Erica

Laurie said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I'm sure it was really hard, but good to get your emotions out on "paper". I'm sure that you and your husband will do all you can to make sure Peyton gets everything he needs including a house full of love, you seem to be amazing parents.

I don't know if you've ever read Barefoot Angie B's blog, but she has an autistic son and it might be a nice place to start for you. Here's the address if you want to check it out. :)

http://barefoot-angieb.blogspot.com/

Heidi said...

Reading your post made me a little emotional... sad all over again for your struggles & for Peyton's challenges, but also thrilled that you made the HUGE step to share. I've worried about you trying to keep it all inside. Then reading all the comments so far made me so grateful for the encouragement & support you are getting from other friends and blog followers. You know that I'm here for you, but I've felt frustrated at not knowing how to help. You are amazing & you can do this... I KNOW you can. :0) Love you guys!

P.S. - I miss you.

Anonymous said...

Tressa & Jesse -We Love you!!
You made you dad tear-up. I hope when you get farther down the road on this journey, you will
consider taking your writing and adding to them and writing a book.

You know we are always here for you. and yes I cried too!
Love mom

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know we love you guys! There is nothing to be ashamed of. Peyton is a great kid and we love having him around. I still see him as the cute kid I always have. You have a great family on both sides that is always willing to help and support you! I don't think any parent can truly understand what you are going (and have been) through unless they have experienced it themselves but at the same time I wanted to make sure you know you aren't alone. I'm glad you are a part of our family.

See you at Lake Tapps in a few weeks!

-Casey

Laura B. Jog for Joubert Syndrome said...

your story is so similar to mine. i began running "for" haley because she could not. i also run for the more selfish reasons too, but that thought is what keeps me going when i want to give up..."i run for her because she can not". i understand you struggles and ask myself the same questions about my child that you ask about peyton. i have learned to forget asking the questions about the future and enjoy what i have today. they are still there, but they dont haunt me as badly. and youre so right, this is a grieving process. you have to grieve over the child that you thought you would have. im getting to a point where im ok with the child i have and look at our situation as a blessing in an odd sort of way. just know that i understand what you are going through and you have someone out in bloggy land you can talk to! :)

Chelsea said...

You guys will do a GREAT job with Peyton. He might have some special needs, but you'll adapt to what's going on in his world and be able to care for him like no other!

mommaof3ontherun said...

Hi. Nice to "meet" you and thanks for stopping by my blog. Thank you for sharing your story. Make sure you look into support groups.

Danielle said...

I just wanted to say I know we are not the closest and i cant say i know what you are going through because i dont, but i can say i have a great listening ability and if you EVER need to talk i am here. (i know you have a lot of people you can talk to but i just wanted to let you know that i am here too) i know we dont really know eachother but i would like for that to change because we are a part of the same family and you are really fun to hang out with i got to see a different side of you this weekend and would love to get to see that more. also i just wanted to tell you i think you and Jesse are AMAZING parents and Peyton is an AMAZING kids i am proud to be his aunt and you guys are going to do great with him. again if you need to talk i am here.

Adam said...

Tough post, tougher topic. My wife is a special ed teacher focusing on early intervention (pre-school -> 3rd). From what she says, it isn't an easy road, but it is a journey that you must follow. either way, the destination is always a happy, healthy, well adjusted son.

Julie said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. What an incredible little boy to be your motivation (for the selfish reasons and all)!! Being parents is the hardest job in the world, and you both have been given an extra dose of hard...i will be praying for you guys on this journey. I too, have struggled with anxiety, so I understand that part and how it can complicate everything in life! Thank God for running!