Tiffany, Week 15: The Hardest Summer of Our Parenting Lives

the lehmans

As I’ve shared, our son, Jack, is autistic. His formal diagnosis is PDD-NOS. Jack is a very normal 6-year-old boy. He loves all things sports, loves to ride his bike, loves to get dirty. He has two speeds: fast and sleep. There is no middle ground. Jack also talks all the time. While his vocabulary is vast, his ability to communicate is delayed which causes a lot of frustration for him. He gets so frustrated at times that he becomes very aggressive and violent.

Jack just finished his first year of school and did well. He thrives on set schedules and one-on-one attention. This now being summer break, it’s really been hard on him to adjust. What’s hard for him is hard for us. Without diving into to many details (although if you want to know more or you just need support and a shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate in the fun milestones, know I’m here for you), this has been the hardest summer of our parenting lives.

The old Tiffany would dive into self doubt, blame, anxiety and shame and face plant into candy bars from the vending machine, pizza, Chinese take-out, too much beer, too much wine, etc. The new and improved Tiffany still had a lot of self doubt, blame, anxiety, bitterness, etc. However, I wouldn’t turn to food and drinks for comfort. Instead, I turned to the gym and my personal trainer. I have had some tear-filled sessions with Lass and have let out a lot of aggression on a giant tractor tire and a heavy lead pipe. I did slip a few times with the food, but all in all, I ate very healthy and it’s almost funny in an ironic way how when you’re out of the bad food mode that you don’t just stop, drop and roll back to it. It’s all a slow progression. Weight gain, weight loss, fitness is all a slow progression. You know the saying: “Slow and steady wins the race”? Well it’s true.

I’m happy to report that school is going to be starting back up soon. Jack is excited, we’re excited, we’ve learned much better parenting techniques through this process. I’ve gone from having an angry and bitter heart to a heart of love and appreciation for Jack. I have gone from “Why me?” to “Thank you for giving this to me.” I put myself in his shoes and I think if I’m this frustrated, I can only imagine what he is going through. We have also learned that in order to fully help Jack (Anna too) that we have no choice but to be the healthiest we can be. We have a legacy to lead.

Has a struggle with your kids made you turn to food or drink for comfort? Post a comment and tell me the healthy ways you’ve found to handle tough times.

One Response to “Tiffany, Week 15: The Hardest Summer of Our Parenting Lives”

  1. Tiff,
    I can SO relate to this post! As you know, Zach also has Autism, same diagnosis as Jack, and this summer has been full of awful moments and even entire days I wish I could forget. With food (And Dr Pepper!) being my drug of choice I find myself at the start of the new school year with high blood pressure and up several pounds.
    Your statement about trying to imagine what they are going through during those frustrating moments really spoke to me. Zach is 4 and we’re still trying to figure out what behavior cannot be helped or stems from frustration of our not understanding his needs, what is just being a 4-year-old boy and what needs discipline and it’s SO hard, but I’m trying to just stop and take a deep breath and deal with each thing that happens the best I can. LOTS of deep breathing! :)
    This past week I’ve tried to really watch what I eat, sodium especially, and have upped my water…well, started my water I should say, since before I hardly drank any. I’m also trying to get to sleep eariler and getting a nap when I can.
    From Sunday to Thursday I’ve lost 7 lbs and my bp is staying in the borderline area rather than Stage 1 hypertension. I know it didn’t get this way over night and it will take time to get things under control, but you have inspired me to try harder! After all, who can take care of Zach better than me!? And I sure can’t do it if I’m not here!
    Love you and I’m so proud of you and your family!