Becoming a Single Mom

Travel the world..png

This is my story on how I became a single mom.

At the age of 24, I felt like my life was pretty much figured out.  I finally had my own apartment without roommates and a decent job working as a CNA. I felt like what I had learned in life had prepared me for whatever trials I would face. I just knew I would be able to conquer trials in my life. I didn’t have a carefree childhood. I grew up in a chaotic home with my grandparents. There was someone who was addicted to drugs who lived with us. I wasn’t taught how to drive, but I learned to navigate by public transportation.  I was being an adult by paying my bills and doing well at my job as a CNA. Life was great, but I still felt like something was missing. I was unable to hang out with my friends or go out. I thought a dating website would be a great way to tell the difference between a guy who was a fit for my life and the wrong guy.

Two weeks into having the dating profile I had received a message from a guy that was a handsome “country” guy. I was excited. He also seemed to live for the Lord. A few weeks of talking to him I decided to meet him. He was just as pleasant in person as he was online. We hit it off and became an official couple.

As time went on things were still great, we were spending lots of time together, and he practically moved in with me. The only slight change I noticed was an afternoon as I was coming home from work, he had asked me to pick up his favorite pizza. So, I stopped at the local store and grabbed it from the frozen food section. I arrived home, and as I walked in, I was greeted by a clean house. Wow is this guy for real? I was so happy with him. I handed him the pizza to place it in the oven, his facial expression changed. He directly looked at me and asked, "Are you stupid?" I was shocked and looked down not knowing what I did wrong. He said, "This is not pepperoni! This is cheese didn’t you read it?" I apologized and asked if I could take it back and get the right type of pizza. He smiled told me no, it’s okay. I was very hurt, but I didn’t say anything. He later apologized.

More time passed I realized that he started to have a “not good enough” attitude towards us. After a few months, I was met with an ultimatum that I either I had a child with him, or he was going to leave me. I told him I really want to be married first and this was sudden. I asked him to let me think about it, and he agreed. The next day I called a couple of family members and friends asking for their opinions. Everyone was shocked by his demands. Even after the advice, I have been given I was sure he must want a family because he loved me that much. I agreed, and we decided to try for a child.

A couple of months later I was expecting. The joy I had for my baby overshadowed my doubts, and he seemed very excited. He called his family and told them about the baby. His family was shocked but happy, and I was welcomed into his family.  I felt how close to them and admired how relaxed around each other they were. It made me desire, even more, to do what I could to make him happy.

In 2014, I was scheduled to be at the hospital, so I can be induced, I was nervous by that time, and I felt as big as a double-wide trailer. I have always been a nervous person as long as I could remember. He was comforting none the less to me. The waiting area for the delivery room seemed calmer then what I expected it to be. The faces of family members, husbands, or boyfriends didn’t alarm me; I felt excited and ready. As I went back, I knew he would be in the room, and he wanted to be a part of it every step of the way!

After arriving in my room, the first thing I noticed was the little baby carrier for after delivery, the smell of the hospital was familiar and comforting because of my work in the medical field. After being all setup, we were in for a long night. It seemed close to forever before Pitocin was given. A few hours later I thought I was going to die the contractions were awful. He snapped, "It can’t hurt that bad you’re being a baby!" I looked at him and cried. I asked for a nurse and a short time later a nurse arrived, I asked for an epidural. After many hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing my healthy baby girl was born.

He wasn’t very helpful for the two days we remained in the hospital. The nurses came in to take my little girl for her vaccinations, and they offered to take longer so I could rest. I smiled and slept for a while. The last day we were there we were packing to leave I lost my daughter's personalized binky. I was panicking, and he scolded me when the nurse walked in and abruptly interrupted him and offered to help look. His attitude changed. He said, "We will get another one."

We arrived home, and our plans changed, I had to quit my job, and we were to move closer to his family in a nearby town. I agreed, so we packed and moved a few months later.  When we lived in our new house, we had a lot of time with his family, and my daughter was growing more beautiful by the day. I was happy regardless. Being a stay at home mom was going to be okay. I couldn’t drive anyway, and I would be loving on her all the time.

A year later, he was very little help with her, but he reminded me that he worked, and I didn’t. I didn’t fuss at him, and I allowed him not to help. He was gone more frequently, and his absence lasted well into the nights. Even shopping at the local store was an issue because I was too slow, and he accused me of looking at other men. I was tired of being talked down to. I met him with an ultimatum of him leaving for the night, or the baby and I were going. He shoved me in a corner and took my phone. He said, "If you are to leave then say you won’t make me pay child support."  I reflected back on every evening I anticipated him coming home, I always had the house clean, and dinner sat at the table. My daughter was in my arms now I was crying. I agreed, and he left then I did too.

I was faced with uncertainty, where do I go? We were without a home. I didn’t pack much because I was thinking it would blow over. I thought things would be normal again. I stayed with my grandma for a while. Things downward spiraled. He was not only cheating on me with multiple women, but he also had numerous profiles on dating sites. He had also created a fake Facebook to hide that he even had a “family.” I was so hurt and confused, we planned this baby together. I did everything he wanted, and all I wanted was for him to be home. Time went on, and things got worse between us. After a failed attempt to get my daughters belongings and mine, we had nothing. Not even a bed. I was on the lease of the apartment, and he lured me there saying he couldn’t stand seeing her stuff and said come to get it. I was met by him and his family, and they tried taking my daughter. The police came to keep me, and my little one safe.  Come to find out, he moved in with a woman and her two kids in they were occupying our beds and had used our belongings.

We were homeless couch surfers. The home my daughter knew was taken from her. I left my friends and moved in with my father. At my father's house, I broke down. I had worked this whole time, and I couldn’t stay with people long because I didn’t know how to drive. I begged God to tell me whether I should take my daughter back and give her to him? He’s more financially stable, I’d probably never see her again. I sobbed and begged. The next morning, I received a message on Facebook. 

The message was from my old school teacher, and it was so comforting because she offered to help us. She helped my daughter, and I find a place to live. This woman and her church even furnished this house. We had a bed, a bathtub for my little girl to play in, and she had toys. I bawled and thanked the Lord for this. During the next few months, I worked and took a taxi every day. I could pay my bills again. The church came by to helped with lawn work, and they even brought us essentials like toilet paper and laundry soap. I never felt so much love before! 

It wasn’t easy. The taxis were expensive every day I’d carry my daughter, her car seat, and our bags everywhere we had to go. We went to daycare, dr appointments, grocery store. Rain, snow, ice or sunny we did it. I worked from 3 pm to 11 pm or to midnight. Then I switched jobs, and I worked 12-14 hour shifts. I was so exhausted from all of this.

I recently moved back to the apartments I lived in when I met my daughter's dad. I paid a Driver's Ed guy to teach me to drive. I obtained my driver's license, and my old teacher helped get me a car. I paid off my debt to go to college, and now I work for the school district. I did this in 4 months! I have worked so hard. I promise to all of you broken, lost, damaged, uncertain single moms that anything is possible! Work hard and take care of your babies (P.S. after the one visit with my daughter's dad he hasn’t contacted us in two years) I had some help, but I’ve done all the work! Anything is possible ladies!

Anonymous 

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

baby-1151351_1920.jpg

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