Back to School and the Anxious Parent

Kids test our patience, don’t they? By the time my son was 3 years old, there was talk of school starting soon and although part of me was sad about it, the other part rejoiced. I’d only have one kid at home for a little while EVERY DAY! It felt like I had an upcoming vacation. (To be clear, my son started early preschool because of learning delays.)

When the time came though, it was nothing I expected. The teachers were great, school staff was great, everyone was great. But that little part of my brain that likes to remind me of all the what-if’s and worst case scenarios was suddenly loud and full of ammo to drive me crazy.


  •  I was anxious about being outside on time for the bus.
  •  Then on my son traveling in a strange vehicle without me.
  •  Him being away for HOURS without me.
  •  Packing a lunch that wouldn’t make the teachers think I was a bad mom.
  •  His behavior at school.
  •  How people would treat him and his differences.
  •  How he would treat others.
  •  Being home on time for drop off.
  •  Not looking completely disheveled so no one would judge me.
  •  Being judged for being a young mom.
  •  Going on errands and seeing school buses driving around! Is it a half day and I didn’t know!?
  •  This list could go onnnnnnnnnnn


Now, I’m a bit older and a bit more chill. I’ve got two in school now and a baby at home and I no longer worry about some of those things. Like how I look when the bus comes to pick the kids up, or whether people judge me for being a young mom. Besides, children have aged me, I don’t look like a teenager anymore!

But… The rest is still hard. I constantly worry about every single detail about my babies being in school. That’s totally normal to think like that, and I know most parents do. But most parents don’t have nightmares of the school bus driving off a cliff. Or have frequent intrusive thoughts about their babies somehow getting badly injured or even killed while they are away from them. And these things stay with us, taking hold in our brains and staying there, refusing to leave. We can’t shake this stuff away and it can often lead to anxiety attacks, panic attacks, even anger, directed at the very loved ones we worry about. I’m not just worried. I get sick. Like there’s a rock sitting in my stomach that doesn’t go away until my children are home and in my arms again. (And for those who are itching to suggest homeschooling, that’s not a possibility for everyone. Although I would love to, I am not cut out for it and I applaud those who are.)

These days, in the United States, I think its becoming common that parents are struggling with anxiety. How could you not? I’m not going to get political here, but I’ve never met a parent who wasn’t terrified of the possibility of a school shooting.


Having children is terrifying.

Sending your children away from you is terrifying.

Having anxiety is terrifying.

So, parents who deal with it all every day, I see you. I know your struggle and your pain and I see how strong you are to keep your fear from your kids. You are amazing and I am so sorry you deal with this level of anxiety with me. But we will keep doing what’s best for our kids, even if it’s hell on us. Because we are parents… That’s what we do.

A different approach to autism awareness month

It’s autism awareness month! It seems as if this month, this one thing that we are trying to spread awareness for, falls on the ears of those who are already listening. Which is great, because parents of autistic kids need that connection. We need to know we aren’t alone and that others mess up just like we do. And autistic adults need this connection so much. I’m starting to learn how much.


The bridge that I’d like to build is an obvious one, but maybe a path that’s not tread often enough. This month, I’m not focusing on other autism parents. I’m focusing on the adults. I’m reading their stuff, how this month actually makes them feel. I’m paying attention to the symbol that so many of them reject and why and taking that to heart so I don’t associate with it myself. I’m reading their blogs and following on Twitter and I’d like to find someone to talk to on what they think are good and bad ways to handle therapy in a child with autism. I’ve got questions and I’m willing to listen.


Ladies and gentlemen on the spectrum! I see you, I hear you, I love and support you and I will be paying close attention. I want to know the best ways to raise my son and I don’t wanna do it by following orders from the doctor alone. I want to be gently guided by those who have gone through it and grown up awesome. I’m here, and I’m listening. And hopefully I can convince other parents to listen too.

Parents, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge available across Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter, probably other social media sites I’m not cool enough to know about. It’s time to learn from the experts.

I’m back baby!

It’s been a long time but I can finally say, I’m back baby! And with a baby. I survived labor and delivery for the third time and life has been a whirlwind of chaos and cuddles and cute. It’s also been a lot of stress, highs and lows, but we’ll get there.

While I was gone one more miracle happened and my daughter was accepted into school! THANK YOU GOD. So now I’ve got a bit over 2 hours of baby and me time while both kids are in school and I’m attempting to make that baby nap/ mama do whatever the hell she wants time. And in turn make that into writing time.

In the next few months I’ll be easing my way back in here and sharing about how little man has been, about breastfeeding and stopping too soon, about finding a therapist and going on meds again… So much more but babe is waking up already. I hope to become more connected in the blog community throughout the rest of this year and I hope I can help someone by sharing a bit of my crazy. I’ve missed you all and it’s good to be back!


A tiny announcement

I have been MIA for a while. Even my last post was something that was written and scheduled weeks ago and I had no hand in it the day it was published here. Life has been crazy. And this mama is definitely a hot mess. But I’ve got some crazy, exciting news! I am expecting one last little one and my family is about to get even crazier.

This means big changes, between what I can do here, and what I can handle at home. I’ll be writing more soon about what a pregnancy means for someone like me right now. But for now, thank you for everyone who reads, shares or follows. I appreciate you all and I’m excited to get to writing a bit more very soon.

What a miscarriage leaves behind

It was in between the two adorable little hooligans I have now that I had a pregnancy that did not go so great. It started and ended in such a whirlwind that I barely had time to grasp what had happened to me. One minute I was puking for no reason, then came that positive test and all of the emotion that goes with it. I was thrilled. I started off with the usual morning sickness, but then started losing it very quickly. I was getting less and less nauseous, and although it was great, it worried me. It felt wrong, but I held onto hope that things were okay.

Then my appointment finally came. I went with my husband, practically bouncing with excitement and chattering nonstop in an attempt to distract myself from my unease. But when it came time for the ultrasound, I found why things felt wrong. My baby was gone.  She should have measured at least 8 weeks, but only measured 6 and there was no movement or any heartbeat detected at all. She was just… gone. I nodded along with whatever the doctor was saying to me, as my throat closed up and my heart started to race. My eyes started welling up with tears and I was desperate to get out of that office. I practically ran out of the building to confront a massive panic attack the second I was outside.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, as far as losing a baby goes, a loss at only 8 weeks doesn’t sound nearly as bad as it could have been. I think the further along a pregnancy is, the worse the loss feels and the harder the grief. Even though this is the worst I’ve been through, I truly believe it could have been worse. But once thing you can’t deny, is that after a miscarriage, stillborn, whatever, you’re still losing a child. I had previously been one to think that an early loss wouldn’t be that bad, but there are things that I found linger long after that baby was gone.


  • Grief

Good ole grief and all its five stages of suck, and it all happened so quickly. Of course there was denial, because I swear to you I refused to believe my baby was gone until I was holding her in my hands and putting her in a little bracelet box to bury in the backyard. I told myself that the ultrasound machine was probably old and faulty. They never turned the sound on, so I didn’t not hear a heartbeat. Anything made sense to me at that point, until logic hit and it didn’t.

Then of course there’s anger, in this case it was, “Why God, why would you let this happen!” It took a toll in my marriage too. My husband was grieving in his own way, but not in a way I understood. So I got angry. I lashed out at him over and over, accused him of not caring that we lost a child, accused him of not caring that I was in pain. It wasn’t until I overheard him on the phone with a church member that that changed. I heard him say that we lost the baby, and then he just started sobbing. I’d never heard him cry like that before, and I never have since. My heart broke all over again and I hated myself for treating him the way I did. But the anger died down.

Bargaining made no sense in this scenario but I tried anyway. I begged for God to take the pain away. For me to wake up and realize it was all a horrible dream. I begged for the whole thing to have been a miraculous mistake and that I’d soon be puking again and rushing to the hospital to find that I didn’t lose my baby after all.

And of course, there was the depression. As I struggle with major depressive disorder in the first place, something like this can easily send me spiraling. All of the anger, the lashing out, the expressive sobbing, it all just stopped. I walked around numb for months, even when I found out I was pregnant again. I couldn’t bring myself to be happy about it. I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything at all.

Acceptance is the last stage of grief, but that part had to wait.

  • Guilt

First there was the feeling like I could have done something to save my baby. Then it was guilt for how I treated my husband when we were both suffering. But then I was pregnant again and guilt became my number one emotion. When I got that positive pregnancy test, I had a feeling in the back of my mind that I should be excited. I decided that I was happy about it, even though I couldn’t feel that yet. But I sure as hell felt guilty that I didn’t feel happy about it. Every step of the way, every bit of happiness that should have followed with that pregnancy was tinged with lingering grief from the baby I hadn’t given myself time to mourn. And every time I felt sad instead of excited, there was that guilt. I felt like a horrible mother for not being happy about my own baby. And it lasted until well after she was born.

Until one day, I finally reached that point of acceptance. Yes, that other baby was gone. I was never going to forget her, but I wasn’t going to let the pain take away from the one in my arms either. I think my daughter was a couple months old before I really let go and was able to really feel the whole impact of her.

  • The ghost

This was the part that I’d never heard of. But something changed that shook me to the core and over four years later, it’s still sometimes there. I’ll just be sitting in the living room watching my kids play, and out of nowhere get this overwhelming sensation that I’m missing someone. I take another look, count one, two, and for a split second, my heart asks me where the third is. My sweet babies will be playing so happy and my heart will just lash out and remind me what I’m missing. I’ll think something along the lines of, “there should be three playing here. I hate that they’ll never know their sister.” But then I remember that that would be impossible. My daughter was conceived fairly quickly after our loss. If that baby had survived, the daughter I have now would have never existed. And wishing it was possible, even for a second, brings back all of that grief, that guilt and that pain.

I’m not saying that there’s an actual ghost. I don’t even know if I believe in that stuff or not. But I never expected my heart to hold a place for a baby that I won’t know in this life. I didn’t expect it to betray me and suddenly start wondering why she’s not here. And I certainly didn’t expect the feeling to linger for so long. My heart aches and longs for someone I can’t ever see or touch. I expected it to fade, and it has, but it doesn’t stop, and it hits me like a ton of bricks every time.

  • Fear

What if it happens again? For the longest time this was just an almost harmless thought in the back of my head. But then something happens, and it shoots to the surface, menacing and terrifying. I’ve been going through this recently. Finding out I’m pregnant again, my husband immediately asked to wait for a while to tell people. “Just in case.” Of course I knew what he meant and I agreed. I wouldn’t want to announce it to the world and get all excited only to lose my baby again and have to share that with the world.

Weeks I spent counting down until I hit that second trimester, that beautiful safety net where experts agree risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. And I made it. But not without some sleepless nights and worrying my days away. Round ligament pains, nausea, absence of nausea, back aches, headaches, all the normal things you go through during that first trimester suddenly aren’t just annoyances anymore. They’re doubts and fears and torments, hinting at destruction to a fragile mama just trying to be okay. Just trying to hold on until she can feel confident that her baby is okay.


In the end, what I expected was to grieve for a while, work through it, and move on. Instead, I know now that she’ll stay with me forever. Things are different now though. I can think about her without immediately bursting into tears. I can look at her ultrasound picture and smile fondly. Hell, I can even talk about it out loud without breaking down(most of the time).

Miscarriage is so common and so often kept quiet that it’s easy to think you don’t know anyone who’s been through it. But I bet you do. I learned about family members and friends who suffered in silence, even as many as 7 times! You don’t need to be quiet about it. It may be an uncomfortable topic for some, but there are plenty of us out there(unfortunately) who have been through this too and we are happy to lend a shoulder to cry on. Whether you lost a baby at 8 weeks, 28 weeks, or gave birth to a stillborn, you still lost a baby. You are still a mom and you deserve to grieve the way you need to. Hang in there mama. It might not ever go away, but it does get better.

Sunshine Blogger Award


I have committed what I’m sure is a Twitter blogger faux pas. I was nominated for the Sunshine blogger award, last month, and I’m just getting around to this now! Sorry! But I was nominated by the lovely Hannah and you can check her out here. This girl is a sweetheart who has no problem reaching out to lift someone up, even if she’s not having a good day herself. We need more people like her.


  1. Thank blogger who nominated you for the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asks you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.


Hannah’s questions, my answers.

  • When did you start your blog and why did you start it?

Wow. I had to look! I started my blog back in March of 2016. The previous winter, I had gotten a couple new diagnoses that sent me into the worst depressive episode I’d ever seen, and it changed me. I knew that I had to start working hard to overcome all the crap I deal with, because if I didn’t, it was too easy to imagine the future without me in it. The blog was meant to be therapy.

  • Do your friends and family know you blog?

Yep! It was a bit weird at first, but then I decided to create a Facebook page for my blog, so family and friends could decide for themselves whether they wanted to see my content or not. I was nervous at first but it’s been an eye opening experience and I’m glad to have started a conversation with some of those people.

  • What is your favorite animal?

Oh gosh I think I have a different answer every time. Right now I’m just gonna say dogs cuz my dog is my buddy and I love him.

  • Have you got a bucket list? If so name 3 things on your bucket list!

I have! I want to visit Ireland, have a full spinal fusion and stand up straight(ish), and I want to eventually go to New York Comic Con. Random examples but I’ve got a ton more.

  • Which post on your blog are you most proud of?

The Sensory Hangover. It’s been shared thousands of times and has gotten people talking and understanding their children, and even themselves, a lot more. I never thought it would get so much attention but I’m glad it’s made an impact.

  • Is there a meaning to the name of your blog?

One year in my MOPS group, we named our tables silly things. My table was the hot mess mamas. It stuck in my head I guess, and between mental illness, scoliosis and PMDD I figured, well, I AM a hot mess… Why not.

  • What would you like to achieve by the end of the year?

My only goal is to make more connections because the world of bloggers is pretty amazing. There are some awesome people out there and I’d like to keep the conversation going about mental health, disability, special needs kids, parenting, all that.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Doing pretty much the same thing, but with a garden and chickens and more school activities. Hopefully with a better handle on my health so life isn’t so overwhelming.

  • What is your dream job?

To work with wildlife in some way. I don’t even know what, but when it comes down to it, animals soothe my soul and I’d love to be surrounded by them all day.

  • What makes you happy when having a bad day?

A good drink and a good snuggle. And yeah I meant snuggle as in the innocent kind of snuggles!

  • What is your favorite time of the year?

Spring. I love watching flowers bloom, and trees burst into life again. I love seeing animals at their best and having babies and the beauty of it all is just breathtaking.


My Questions!

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. What has your most proud moment been so far?
  3. What’s your number one blogging goal for 2018?
  4. How have your friends and family responded to your blog?
  5. If you could explain one thing that people may misunderstand about yourself or your writing, what would that be?
  6. If you could be a guest on any TV show, which one would it be?
  7. What are your favorite things to watch?
  8. What’s your favorite book?
  9. What is your Hogwarts/Ilvermorny house?
  10. If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
  11. If you could change one thing with the world, what would it be?

And I nominate…





@shmisarah th







I’ve picked you lovely people because you have under 2,000 followers and I liked your blog enough to give you a boost! Even though most(all?) of you are definitely more popular and in control of things than I am! If you’ve been nominated before don’t feel bad about ignoring this but do take it as a compliment.


Keep the pictures

So I’ve been working on the blog, trying to make it look like a 10 year old didn’t design it, and I wanted to see if I had a good picture of my own that I could use for a header. I decided to click through my photos on Facebook to search. Instead of finding that picture perfect header, it turned into a half hour of clicking through old photos, reminiscing about old times and smiling so much that I’ve given myself a headache.

There was something that I couldn’t help noticing. Through all the pictures I looked through, I remember considering deleting so many of them for the silliest reason. I didn’t think I looked very good. We all want to look good in our own pictures, and I totally get that. But sometimes you’ve got to look wayyyyy past that.

I’ve got old photos of my youth group days and most of those people look so different now. We’ve all grown so much, and honestly, grown into ourselves, and it would be so easy to say, “I didn’t look good in this pic. I’m just gonna delete…”

Don’t do it!

In all those pictures that I was criticizing my own appearance, there were so many other things going on. In some, a friend was in the picture and they had the biggest smile on their face. In others, it brought up memories that I’d never wanna forget. Others still were just awash with nostalgia and impossible to trash. There are even old friends in some that I fell out with years ago, and there might be a bit of resentment there, but looking at those pictures doesn’t bring that up. It only shows how happy we were back then, and looking back helps to soften any hurt feelings that might still be lingering.

There were family members looking great who aren’t so healthy now and don’t smile much anymore. There were old friends who we haven’t seen in years. There were even memories of, “holy crap I forgot that I was ever thin!” And of course, there were the new parent pictures that I kind of hated at the time. I always thought I looked too big, or too tired, too something. But I don’t care anymore.

I’m no supermodel. Most of my pics, new or old, I’ve got a bit of a gut because my scoliosis has taken away my waist. I’m Irish and English and it’s impossible for me to keep a tan, so most of my pics I look like a ghost. Many pics that I wanted to be perfect weren’t because my glasses were broken. I’m extremely unphotogenic and many more photos have me blinking or making an awkward face or, whatever.

But my point, is that despite how I used to feel about my appearance in these pictures, I looked at them today and I smiled. I even got a little teary eyed.

So let this be a lesson. Take the picture with your friends, with your kids. With your spouse! Who cares if you didn’t have time to put makeup on? Or if you think you look tired or you think you need to lose weight first. Life won’t wait for you to put on your makeup. Life won’t wait for you to lose weight or get a tan or look your best. Life is happening, right here, right now, and I intend on capturing it. Makeup or not, sleepy mom eyes or not. My kids wanna look back on pictures and see their mama, and I wanna look back and see us all together. And now, I’ve got a new lifelong resolution.

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I’m Sorry, but I Am Not Thankful for My Sons Autism

When my little boy turned a year and a half, he changed. He was this perfect little thing, so cute and loving, silly and playful. He was reaching all his milestones just a bit later than other kids, but who cared? He was my precious baby, it didn’t matter. Until suddenly, he wasn’t late reaching his milestones, he was stalled. His motor skills stopped progressing, his attention span slipped and all of a sudden all those words that we so lovingly taught him were gone. Just gone.


You can’t imagine the worry when your baby suddenly can’t call you mama anymore. Why he’s suddenly not looking you in the eye and why you need to repeat everything a thousand times until he finally focuses and hears you. You can’t imagine the confusion of trying to get him to say a word that he had learned months ago, only to realize that he doesn’t know it anymore. You can’t imagine it, unless you’ve lived it.

It took a long time to figure out what was going on. Our pediatrician at the time was absolutely useless and brushed away all our concerns. We were young and naïve and assumed that if the doctor wasn’t worried, maybe we didn’t have to be. That’s what we told each other, although inside we both knew we were scared.

When we finally reached beyond the doctor to seek help, things started changing. My little boy got into Early Intervention and they determined he needed speech therapy and occupational therapy to develop his fine and gross motor skills. Our world turned into a web of words we’d never heard before with speech delays, IEPs and therapists.

And still, we knew it wasn’t enough. There was still something missing that we didn’t understand, and that word, autism, had been floating around in our heads for a while. We didn’t want to believe it though. If he only had a speech delay, he’d grow out of it. But the other thing… There’s no growing out of that. We were scared for his future. But you know what? Trying to avoid the confirmation of what we knew in our hearts to be true was not helping him, or us, or anyone. My husband finally convinced me to get him to a different doctor, and we found the answer we knew was there.

Autism. Sensory Processing Disorder. Possible Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. At the time it was nothing but a relief to hear someone say it out loud. Knowing what is going on is important in advocating for my son, and understanding him.

But in all my time online, reaching out and trying to connect with other people raising autistic kids, I kept seeing one thing. “I’m thankful that my kid has autism because…” It is a good sentiment, it really is. And I totally get it. I don’t wish I never had my son, and if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently (besides getting a diagnosis sooner) but personally, I can’t agree. I’m just gonna say it.

I’m not thankful for my son having autism.

I’m not thankful for sensory processing disorder. I’m not thankful for OCD. I’m not thankful for the fact that a simple noise can send my son into a meltdown. I’m not thankful that he can’t get comfortable in a shirt with a tag on it. I’m not thankful that he can’t read or watch something unless it’s perfect from the very beginning. I’m not thankful that his sensory issues are making potty training impossible. I’m not thankful for his struggles, for his fears or for the heartbreak he doesn’t even know to feel yet when kids say he’s weird and run away from him.

I’m thankful for my son.


He is a beautiful, crazy smart, silly boy with a huge heart that makes his mommy melt. He takes care of his sister, he gives me the best hugs, and when he’s really happy, his eyes light up brighter than anything else in the world. And when I think of all the things he goes through, all I think of is how his meltdowns take away his smile. They take away the light in his eyes and fill his brain with fog. They change him from loving brother to a distressed kid who will push his sister down to get away from her. They make it impossible to talk to him, to reason with him, to love on him. When he’s struggling, there’s no amount of being “thankful” that will help him. There’s no amount of being “thankful” that will help me either.

My little buddy will be six years old in a couple months, and I know we’ve got a long way to go. I know that as he grows up, he will learn how to handle the stresses in his life in a healthier way. I know he will change some things he does, mimicking his behavior in certain situations to fit in better. I know that, underneath all the struggle, one day he will be okay. I just know that he will grow up to be an amazing man that my husband and I will be nothing but proud of. So maybe one day I will be able to say with total sincerity that I’m thankful for his autism. But right now, seeing how hard every single day is for him, it’s hard to appreciate anything that hurts him so much. Maybe one day I’ll be able to look past the bad, and see the good things it has done in his life. Because I know there will be plenty.

But at this age, with this much struggle, saying so would be a lie.

The Joys of the Threenager

Everyone has heard the term “terrible two’s” to describe toddlers. New parents tend to dread that age because of this term and when it comes, it’s all, “Ok, this is challenging but I can handle it. I can do this!” But, then the child turns three.


With my kids, I felt like I was blindsided. My son is not a neurotypical child so each stage was a bit harder compared to other kids. When he was three I was convinced that no one in the world could possibly have it harder than I did. Then he finally turned four and actually started to calm down a tiny bit. The older he gets, the more easy going my son becomes. It’s still a struggle, but I started to think I was out of the woods on the hardest stage. I forgot one thing though.

It was my daughters turn to turn three. After surviving that stage with an autistic little boy, I figured my neurotypical little girl would be a breeze. At two, my princess was a strong, independent little thing. She loved everyone, loved being the center of attention and just oozed joy with every step she took. She stole hearts wherever we went and lived up to her nickname of Angel.

But now, move out of the way! Queen Elsa coming through! Half the time she is a dainty princess, and half the time she is a feisty superhero. She wrestles with her very sensitive and nonviolent brother(even gave him a black eye once. Check that one out.) She talks back to her daddy and I and doesn’t care about consequences. Nothing fazes her, and nothing scares her. She is loud, she is mighty, and she is driving me crazy! But the worst part… In public, she’s this perfect, sweet little thing. Every time I leave the house, people gush about how cute, how sweet, how polite she is. And I’m just standing there clenching my teeth, giving her the death stare as she bats her eyes at yet another admirer. I’m sure she finds it entertaining.


But one thing I think all sassy little threenagers have in common, is that once they’ve driven you to the edge and you are just about to jump into crazy town, they will turn you to mush. All of a sudden she will just yell, “Mommy!” and rush to me with arms outstretched, eager to give me big hugs, a kiss and sometimes even, “My mommy, I luv you so much.” When she can tell I’m upset, she will sit on my lap and give me hugs and kisses, grab my face and tell me she loves me. When the kids are fighting, they always apologize to each other and give hugs and kisses. It’s enough to melt the coldest of hearts.

Kids are the worst sometimes. But sometimes they’re also the best. It’s a damned good thing they’re cute.

The Sensory Hangover

Too many people, too much noise, too many colors, too hot, too windy, feet hurt, weird smells, aaaggghhh! Kind of annoying to even read that, huh?

Recently, my husband and I braved our own social anxiety to take our kids to the most crowded, overwhelming Easter Egg hunt ever. There were people everywhere, parents shoving kids aside to grab a dozen eggs, and children in every direction getting separated from their families. It was hell. And the poor kids had nothing to show for it because we couldn’t push past the throng of overbearing helicopter moms for my own kids to grab a damn egg. This was strike one.

After the failure of an egg hunt, we decided to make the most of it and stay where we were, which was a popular local boardwalk. Lots of rides, lots of memories. Our kids had never been, so we decided it was time. And let me tell you, my expectations were put to shame.

If you know me IRL or have followed me before, you’ll know that my son has sensory processing disorder. Long explanation short, it’s basically where all of the senses that we usually handle normally, they get all jumbled up in my kids head. His brain just looks at all this information like I look at algebra. Not a pretty picture. So, knowing how sensitive my buddy can be, I honestly didn’t expect much. But I underestimated him.


My boy got on every ride he saw, laughed his face off and didn’t fuss one bit when he had to wait in lines. He ate lunch in a strange place, outside, surrounded by strangers, weird smells and weird, loud noises. He was polite, happy and falling in love with the excitement of the boardwalk. And it broke my heart.

Because it was a glimpse of what he could be if we’d never heard the words “autism” and “sensory processing disorder” coming from a doctors mouth. I started imagining how life would be if this was his normal. And I started getting optimistic that this was proof that he’s changed and grown up so much. It was just so nice to see him so happy instead of struggling through every second of the day.

But when we woke up the next day, all hell broke loose. He was angry and lashing out from the second he woke up to the second he finally passed out that night. There were meltdowns galore, tears from everyone and a lot of apologies. I tried to keep my cool because I knew what was going on. All of those overwhelming things he had braved through the day before were all just fuel being added to a bonfire. Every strange noise, every time he almost tripped on the uneven sidewalk, every time a kid rushed past him and bumped him, it all fueled him up, hidden deep inside where he had been storing it all day. The next day, through no fault of his own, it exploded.


This is what I call the sensory hangover. His raging fire burned bright the day after our fun, into the next day, then the next, and the next, etc, etc… As I’m typing this, we are about two weeks out from that day and we still haven’t gotten him back to that great, grown up boy who was doing so well. I’ve found myself explaining his behavior so many times I’m running out of words. It doesn’t matter how many times I say it isn’t his fault. All strangers do is stare, shake their heads, and think I’m being a lazy parent. As if I don’t feel like the worst already.

But here’s what I’ve come to realize… When a child goes through all of this, and then wakes up the next day to this agonizing hangover, the kid isn’t the only one suffering. Meltdowns are hard. They drain the life out of the child suffering and every caregiver they come across. It’s heartbreaking to see a little kid have such a hard time. It’s hard enough seeing a strangers kid freaking out in public, but imagine that being your normal at home. After dealing with the meltdowns over and over, day after day, it wears me down until I’m the one lashing out. I’m snapping at my husband, yelling at the kids, and flinching over the slightest touch. It took me until today to realize that I was now the one in sensory overload. Anxiety does not mesh well with angry kids. And hurting children don’t thrive with an overwhelmed mom.


The thing is, try as I might, this is just what happens when we do something big. The meltdowns are inevitable, his and mine. I have a lot to learn about handling my sons struggles, and I have a long way to go in forgiving myself when I can’t handle it all either. So I might have to avoid a playdate if it comes after something big. I might try to keep the kids in when everyone tells me to take them out. And I may seem like I’m making excuses for bad behavior once in a while. But just know that I (along with so many other special needs parents) are just doing what we need to do to survive the aftermath of a good day. Here’s to hoping that the good days increase and the hangovers get shorter. The sensory kind, and the wine induced kind. Cheers!