You are 15 today.

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I have been thinking about this day for some time and was curious about how I would feel when it actually came. Lately, I have been allowing myself to FEEL all of the feelings for each moment in my life. Allowing myself to feel what I need to feel to process it fully. So I cried this morning after I got off the phone with you lol.

You were born in Joplin, MO, our first child and first grandchild on both sides of the family. We had waited five years to have children. I wanted everyone in the family to be there when you were born. And that they were! We had aunts, grandmas, grandpas, cousins all in the room when you were ready. You gave us a little scare during labor, but our doctor was fantastic, and everything turned out wonderfully. 

We teased about making sure I delivered you before lunch so I could eat. You were born right before noon! My little sumo baby with that chunky face and lots of dark hair. It was weird to hold you for the first time, to see you for the first time. While a baby is inside their mom’s stomach, all she thinks about is holding her baby for the first time, what they will look like, what features they will have. You were absolutely beautiful!

Your journey was just beginning. We loved having you home with us, and all the family loved coming to visit. It was like something sparkled now in our lives. Something dull was now shining.

We made the decision that my full-time job would be to stay home and take care of you. I sure didn’t think I was equipped to be a mother, at some points in my life not even knowing if I would be one. But I took this job very seriously, and we made the best of our days together. You have always been loved more than you will fully be able to comprehend; until you have children of your own. 

We always thought you were so smart! Your dad taught you to memorize the states in a song. I remember people thinking that was so cool to hear a toddler sing all the states. Heck, I can’t even do that lol. 

You loved school and made friends quite easily. I got the chance to come and volunteer with your teacher. I will treasure those memories. This next year would prove to be the most challenging for us both. When things changed at home, you noticed. You have always been very intuitive. I wish now I would have protected you from it more than I did. I was broken and didn’t know what life was going to be like without him in it. Because of that, you grew up faster than you should have. You instantly became a second mama to your little sister who was three years old. Some days I honestly don’t know how we made it through, but you became a source of inspiration for me. You were so strong even though hurting deeply. 

Still to this day that is true. You and your sister are my inspiration; my inspiration to do hard things, to make a difference in someone else’s lives, to want to change the world. 

When I was 15 years old, I started dating your dad. We were young and naïve, each of us on our own journey to find ourselves, but that never really happened; for me anyways. We just knew what it was like to be with each other. Though, I don’t regret loving and marrying my high school sweetheart (your father) or what we went through together, the good or the bad; I am beyond thankful that journey was ours and not yours. 

You have learned to love yourself first. You have learned what priorities are. You are compassionate, kind, funny and intelligent beyond words. You are a team player and a passionate leader who sees the best in everyone. 

Dear 15 year old, you are going to go so far in life. Don’t apologize for being you. Live your best life and LOVE it. Live each day as a testament to others that things don’t have to be perfect for you to be your best self. Always be kind and never give up. Pray every day and thank God for your blessings. 

I will always be right beside you for the next step in your journey. 

Sincerely,

You’re number one fan and biggest cheerleader, MOM


How to Design A Sleep Environment to Help Your Autistic Child Sleep Soundly

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As a parent to an autistic child, you know all too well the difficulty that bedtime can bring, but you aren’t alone. According to research, at least half of all autistic children have problems falling and staying asleep, and often wake up more frequently. This lack of sleep translates into intensified autism symptoms such as excitement, repetitive behavior, and communication issues. The constant waking in the night can have an effect on you and other members of your household too. So, how can you design a bedroom for your child to help them have a more positive bedtime experience?

Be Picky with Bedding

Many children with autism find certain textures or accessories (zippers, buttons, snaps) distracting and uncomfortable, so bedding needs to be chosen carefully. Take cues from your child and examine their favorite clothing, as this is what they find most comfortable and therefore should be incorporated into their bedding. Perhaps your child prefers smooth cotton sheets or something a little fuzzier such as flannel. Make sure their pajamas match their comfort preferences, as well as some fabrics, are itchy and hot, and zippers/buttons can make sleep uncomfortable. Consider incorporating additional bed accessories such as comfort items or even a weighted blanket. A weighted blanket can offer several bedtime benefits for your child, as the extra pressure and compression can calm the nervous system, making it easier to fall asleep.

 Get Rid of All Distractions

 Distractions are an everyday occurrence for autistic children, but they can wreak havoc on bedtime. It is best to minimize bedroom distractions including light and noise. Face the bed away from the door to avoid light creeping in from under the door, or place a rolled up towel on the floor to block the light. As for windows, blackout curtains are helpful, especially if light streams in the window. This can also be beneficial when the time changes to avoid disrupting the sleep-wake cycle. Noise can also be an issue, so find ways to block it out such as headphones, relaxing music or a sound machine. 

One distraction you might not think of is the air in the room. Not only should you adjust the thermostat based on your child’s preferences, but you should also consider hidden culprits in the air that could keep your child awake sniffling and sneezing, particularly if anyone in the home is a smoker. Keep allergens and smoke particles out of the air with an air purifier that contains a True HEPA filter and a carbon filter, but make sure it’s quiet.

 Reduce Clutter with Storage

 Your child’s room might be their favorite place to play, but heaps of toys in the corner and various knickknacks can cause sensory overload. Use storage cubes or under-bed storage bins to keep the room neat and organized, and consider setting up a toy room/corner in another area of the home. Remove any décor or items that are unnecessary including posters and wall art/photos. Your child might find it helpful if you remove everything but the necessities, leaving them with just a bed, dresser, nightstand and desk. Make sure you have removed color clutter as well by sticking with neutral and relaxing color palettes such as greens, blues, and pastels.

Incorporate Relaxing Activities

 In addition to adjusting the bedroom itself, it’s important that you incorporate relaxing activities to help your child wind down. Perhaps you could play some soft music, read a book together, or participate in a breathing exercise. Find what works and roll with it, but be sure to stick with a routine. Keep the routine simple with pre-bedtime tasks such as take a bath, put on pajamas, brush teeth, listen to music and go to sleep. If your child has trouble understanding, use visual supports to communicate with your child and help them communicate with you. These visuals can also be helpful to reduce anxiety about what is happening, as the cues will show your child exactly what to expect and what comes next.

 If bedtime is difficult, it’s time to revamp your child’s bedroom to ensure it is conducive to a happy, healthy sleep environment. To appeal to your child’s unique sensory processing issues, switch up the bedding, minimize distractions, declutter and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Adjust and readjust until you find that sleep sweet spot.


Joyce Wilson

Warriorz-Recap from 7th Annual Valentine’s Banquet

On Sunday evening, February 17th, 2019, SingleMomzRock in partnership with Victory Mission + Ministry held our 7th Annual Valentine’s Banquet at a new location, Doubletree by Hilton Springfield.  Over 200 single moms were treated to a glamorous evening of fun and fellowship created just for them! 

The evening started off by the moms being escorted to their tables by gentlemen in tuxes and roses in hand. Delores Albers Photography, as well as CRNewell Photography, was on hand to take snapshots of the moms all glammed up, dinner was catered, and they were treated to live music by two local choirs that joined forces to bring the house down. It’s truly become the largest event in our area for single moms. It was such an inspiring night.

Our theme this year was “Warriorz.” When thinking of a theme each year, we try to find something that will resonate with our single moms. Struggles they go through. Considering all the battles we fight every single day, and how we truly are warriors, it was a natural fit to choose this theme. Moms were treated with bracelets that matched the theme. 

Our featured speaker, Jennifer Maggio, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of The Life of a Single Mom out of Baton Rouge, LA. Like I mentioned that night, for us to even be able to pull off having her among us was confirmation that we are doing something right! She is well renowned in the single mom circuit and sought out all throughout the year for speaking engagements. She told her story of living in poverty, dealing with abuse of all kinds, teenage pregnancy, abandonment of family, going to college while raising two babies, securing a job in a Fortune 500 company and ending that successful career to start a single mom’s ministry. She is proof that you still get to work towards the calling God has placed on your life it may take a lot more work than you thought it would but being obedient will also bless that path! There was not a dry eye in the house after she spoke, our moms were encouraged!

Daniel Ogunyemi was the first male speaker EVER to come and talk to our moms. He let them know that they are strong, loved and to never give up. Anastasia Phelps performed a special spoken word for our moms. Titled “Rise Up,” Anastasia brought intensity and passion to her words. Check out here facebook page, Beautiful Not Broken

And did I mention THAT CHOIR? Sanctuary of Praise and Urban Praise Choirs joined to bring three songs full of hope, praise, and encouragement in the house. We got to worship together, pray together and encourage each other. It was a moment I will never forget, you could feel the movement that was taking place!

We brought back the element of having women community leaders come to the banquet to be table hosts. We had over 80 women leaders come and sit amongst our moms and pour into them, some even brought extra goodies for their tables.  We also brought back our SMR Ambassador program, where we chose three moms who we knew had been working very hard this past year to make very positive changes to better them and their children’s lives. We were able to present these three moms with $100 gas cards on behalf of Victory Mission + Ministry as well as a “shield” pin that was specially designed for this year’s banquet. 

To be able to host the banquet this year at the DoubleTree was very special for all of us. We had their largest ballroom space, and it was beautiful. After six years of using a church space, for us to be able to host it in a lavish venue just amazes me.  IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER!

Thank you to all that pour your heart into this event each year in order for it to happen. We are very blessed indeed to have such strong support from our community and churches. I don’t know how we will top next year…but I’m already thinking of ways ☺


Janelle Reed

Founder, SingleMomzRock