LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

wed_dave-mandi

Despite the low resolution on our photos, I was married in 2002 not 1902

A lot has been written about the dire prognosis for marriages when a child is diagnosed with autism. One stat (which I'm convinced is totally made up) claims that 80 PERCENT of marriages of couples with kids on the spectrum end in divorce.

Now don't get me wrong. I can understand why these kinds of statistics might be believable – particularly to the people IN these marriages. There have been plenty of afternoons when I've seriously considered going AWOL for a few years. I'm not proud of it, but I've had those fleeting thoughts.

I'm surprised there isn't a statistic about how many of these marriages end in the homicide of one or the other partner, because let me tell you, when you've spent the afternoon with a child screaming about his fear of kangaroos any time you try to take him to the bathroom, by the time your spouse gets home, you're in the mood to take VERY. LITTLE. CRAP.

Now. Having said all that, I have to go all gooey and tell you how lucky I am. Seriously. I hit the jackpot. Eight years ago today, I married a man whose finest qualities I had yet to discover.

I loved him from the beginning because he could spell. We met on one of those lame Internet dating sites that we both joined as kind of a joke, bringing incredibly low expectations to the enterprise – expectations that, for me, would lowered as I encountered the likes of “Tedy BARE Needz Sum LURVE!!” and “Wanna join my Hairum??” (I'm not sure, but I think that's like the Steak-ums of harems.)

The_New_Family

Our new family in front of the harbor in Chania

Within 8 months of meeting, Dave and I were engaged and talking wedding plans. I had always had this fantasy about getting married outdoors in Greece, and here's the first of David's really stellar qualities that I would uncover AFTER falling in love with him: He shrugs and goes along with pretty much any hair-brained scheme I plot.

With almost no money, one driver's license between us (mine), and knowing only the Greek alphabet (I learned 20 years ago as a Delta Zeta pledge), we set off one August day from England, where we were living at the time, on a weekend-long fact-finding mission to Crete.

First fact we found: Don't go to Crete in August. It's about a million degrees and there are more mosquitoes than tourists – which is saying something. Month of wedding set: November.

Second fact we found: Chania, a beautiful city on the western end of Crete, used to be a Venetian port and has incredible old architecture. Location of wedding: Casa Delfino, a Venetian palace converted into a hotel.

We gathered family and friends around us one breezy November night in 2002, just inside that gorgeous courtyard, just after a warm rain. Dave's best friend, Steve Eyre, a lay minister, performed the ceremony. His daughter, Imogen, our 3-year-old goddaughter, danced around us and loudly announced to everyone, “This isn't a wedding!” Then we shared a week of good food and incredible sight-seeing with our nearest and dearest before returning to England as Mr. and Mrs. Broadfoot.

dave-me-courtyard-wedding

When you meet someone, when you plan a wedding with them and first fantasize about a life together, you don't evaluate the potential of your relationship by imagining every hard thing that could ever happen. It's human nature. You fantasize about setting up house together and traveling the world together maybe and possibly having laughing, beautiful babies together.

We have had all that. And so much more.

Over the past eight years, I have been reminded at every turn what an amazing man I married. He never minded changing a diaper or getting up in the night to handle a feeding while I slept. He rarely loses his patience and genuinely loves being a dad.

Even more incredibly, his faith in our son's potential never wavered for a moment, even when we got the news about autism, even as we saw certain fantasies evaporate before our eyes. He always reminds me of the beauty in the real children we have. He has never said “There's nothing wrong with Billy” but he has always been able to see the funny side, the miraculous side, the beautiful side of just about every challenging situation.

I didn't choose Dave because of his amazing ability to parent a special needs child. I didn't evaluate the risks to our relationship if we happened to hit a really big hurdle, but deep down, I knew he could handle it. I knew and know we both can.

The only statistic that matters to me: I'm 100 percent certain I will love him for the rest of my life.

Happy anniversary, Mr. B.

Reader Comments

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Blessings in abundance, always!

What a beautiful post, and a beautiful tribute to your husband. You are both truly blessed to have found each other - you're both keepers! - and I wish you much happiness and laughter together, always.
LOVE your posts, and I love catching up with your vlog every week, dear friend!
Sunshine xx

Eeeeek! How could I forget the most important part?? HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO YOU BOTH!!!

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I can tell by your photos just how happy and perfect you are together. No one ever said it would be easy but someone once told me it's how we make it through the rough patches that determine whether or not we'll make it through in the end.

I wanted to thank you so much for visiting me on my SITS day and leaving me such sweet, encouraging words. It meant the world to me, especially coming from someone with such a beautiful spirit and loving soul. You have a new follower in me :) Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

beautiful post - congratulations on your anniversary. I love your line "The only statistic that matters to me: I'm 100 percent certain I will love him for the rest of my life." That's just awesome...

Oh wow -

How incredibly awesome - you don't need to be told how blessed you and Dave are, because you know it and live it.

*Sobbing*

Tears, sobbing, shaking.....
I am truely shuddering like a child who has calmed after crying for an hour.
I am filled with joy for you and your family.
Congratulations and Blessings!!!!!

Happy Anniversary!

Congrats and wishing you many more years!!

Loved your story and tribute to a wonderful man. My parents just celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary and in today's society that was a big deal but I know some people who celebrated...get this...76 years!! Can you imagine? Unfortunately, they both died this year but they had some wonderful years together. That is something to aspire to.

You go girl. Your children will love you for it when they are grown and struggling with a spouse who doesn't do exactly right and society says "just get a d......"!! Love you story!!

Total 19 comments

It's supposed to be WORDLESS Wednesday, but if you know me, you know that's next to impossible. I can't shut up.

So here are some ghosts of my Halloween past. As I've said before, my Mom was awesome at Halloween costumes (the Wonder Woman Underoos notwithstanding)...

WonderWoman

Wonder Twins!

HoboWitch

How did I talk my sister into wearing THAT getup while I was Cute Witch?

Mime

Remember what I said about "too much costume?" I was 12. As cool as this was, when you're 12 and a girl, you're better off going as a cheerleader or Hannah Montana. Also, nobody likes mimes.

And because tomorrow is my 8th wedding anniversary, I've been thinking a lot about what was then the happiest day of my life (before our kids). Believe it or not, this photo was taken with a digital camera. The resolution was so low, I could have drawn a more accurate photo:

throw

But in this particular shot, I like the low-res effect. You an see my little god-daughter, Imogen, then three years old, down in the right-hand corner, ready to catch the bouquet. I'm climbing the stairs of from the courtyard of the old converted Venetian palace in which Dave and I were just married in Crete. It had just rained lightly. The ceremony was over. I was wearing fresh flowers in my hair, bought in the local market and woven together by my brother that morning. Twenty-five of the people we loved best in the world were there. And I married my best friend. More on that tomorrow ...

Reader Comments

Marrying your best friend would come pretty high on the list. Love the costumes, especially the mime!

Underoos!!!

Okay, for a wordless Wednesday, I have a few words.

A. I have never before typed the word "Underoos". It is kinda liberating.

2. I generally hate mimes, but you were a cute one.

Third: Happy anniversary - almost.

(d) Crete? Huh. Isn't that off the Jersey Turnpike? Near Camden? Couldn't spring something fancy like the Mediteranean?

I missed it!

I can't believe I missed your SITS Day! I have no excuse...except that I had to go to work and the grocery store! Thank you for the great Spring Chicken shout-out! I love our tribe!

My hubby and I just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary in October. That picture of you on the steps is beautiful, low resolution and everything!

Those costumes are adorable. My sister is three years younger than me and she still gives me a hard time about having to be the scarecrow while I was Dorothy. It was about 23 years ago...

The wedding sounds like a dream. Can't to read more tomorrow. Hope you have a very happy anniversary! We'll be celebrating our 8th anniversary, too, in March.

Underoos

Look at you, rockin' the underoos! Awesome.

So looking forward to tomorrow's post! I love a good wedding story. :)

Underoos!

Yea, I have a hard time with the wordless part of Wordless Wednesday too (though I was definitely less chatty than usual this go round! :>).

I remember Underoos!!! I had Supergirl and Wonder Woman and I have the picture of me in my Supergirl set on Christmas flashing through my head now. lol :> Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


Happy early Anniversary! Your wedding sounds beautiful and am looking forward to hearing more! :>

I love the Wonder twins!!!! And your witch costume ;)

Title!

My mom and aunt made fantastic costumes as well and one similar to the mime. You guys look great as Wonder Woman times two.

Happy belated SITS day.

LisaDay

Total 9 comments

Parenting isn't easy on control freaks. I thought that, like most projects I tackle in life, careful study of the right books would fully equip me for pregnancy and motherhood. Whatever. Let's just say that What to Expect in the Toddler Years should contain the subtitle "In an Ideal World." (The Girlfriend's Guide books may not have prepared me any better, but they at least made me laugh. Hard.)

I like to carefully plan out and schedule my day, make to-do lists - for myself and Dave (oh yeah, he LOVES that) -- prioritize said list and then mark off each item with color-coded highlighters. I love highlighters.

My children like to put handfuls of mac-n-cheese in their pockets, develop strange rashes and get various parts of their bodies stuck in various places in the house five minutes before we need to pull out of the driveway to be somewhere. And those are the easy upsets to deal with. The most terrifying thing about parenthood, the thing I was totally unprepared for, is how vulnerable it makes you feel. Suddenly, the source of all your greatest joy and pain is walking around the world, running into things and people and you can't stop it or control it. I suppose I could wrap them up like mummies and feed them like baby birds but that's generally frowned upon by the best parenting books.

I realized fairly early on that I could either loosen the reins a bit or become a heavy drinker. Instead, when things veer off the rails, I organize.

My favorite tools: Velcro, Ziploc bags, a black Sharpie pen, strips of sticky magnets and index cards. During the long road to Billy's autism diagnosis, I became obsessed with organizing his toys correctly, as though the perfect playroom could "fix" him. I would stay awake at night debating whether the baby doll and bottle I bought for him (to practice imaginative play) should be in the "housekeeping" area, with the play kitchen, or next to the bikes, since his favorite thing to do with the baby doll was run over it with his Big Wheel.

I took a picture of every toy and labeled its position in the toy room with a Velcro-ed picture, so that he could practice returning things to the right place. I used those same Velcro-ed pictures on his picture schedule, a tool that helped teach him about his day and how to make choices.

My organization stress response isn't limited to toys, though. The week Billy started school I was so worried that I labeled every shelf in the kitchen cabinets with index cards; then I get blind with momentary rage if I open a cabinet and Dave has put a plate on the clearly marked "over-sized bowls" shelf. On the rare occasions that Dave and I argue, I reorganize his stuff. I might as well; if he's looking for something, he always asks me where it is, so it might as well be somewhere I put it.

He has said that he's afraid one day he's going to wake up and find himself sealed in a Ziploc bag labeled "Daddy" and Velcro-ed to the wall. And I told him that if I were stressed enough to do that, the bag might not be labeled "Daddy."

I'm probably the worst possible parent to deal with my son's autism; at least that's how it feels most days. It seems that no answers are clear-cut, no treatment is without debate, and the experts can't even decide how best to organize the diagnoses and treatments. (For more on the current debate about the American Psychiatric Association's recommendations, click here.)

Most medical doctors will recommend drugs and pooh-pooh the idea of more holistic approaches, such as the dietary interventions. Most parents, therapists and doctors who are very committed to biomedical (diet, supplements, etc.) interventions refuse to believe that every child can't be helped by those treatments. For every non-invasive therapy we try -- therapeutic listening, brushing, supplements, weighted vests, you name it -- there's a website or anonymous blogger somewhere saying how stupid it is.

I have poured over long lists of symptoms of everything from yeast sensitivity to sensory processing disorder. Some symptoms Billy seems to have, some he doesn't. Some seem to match the symptoms of five or six other allergies or disorders. Many of them instruct me to "watch his behavior" after eating certain things. Well, the same behavior that you attribute to wheat allergy could also be explained away by the fact he didn't nap today, his sister got chewed carrots on his Lightning McQueen car, and I won't let him watch TV. In short, controlling his environment and attributing behavior to one particular thing is next to impossible. He's a three-year-old, not a lab rat.

I thought when we started this process that if I found the right expert, I would get a clear-cut prescription and that would be that. Unfortunately, I found too many experts in everything except my child. It turns out that Dave and I (and my parents) are the only ones truly expert in Billy, what works for him and what doesn't. And even that list changes from one week to the next.

It drives me to distraction. But when the stress gets to be too much, I can always go organize Dave's closet.

Reader Comments

LOVE IT!

LOVE this. I have a lot of friends obsessive about organization but I don't know anyone that picture coded the playroom. I know one friend in particular that would be all over that idea. A pediatrician once told me during a visit that everyone has a neurosis of some kind. I was expressing concern over a bout of obsessive hand washing that Molly was going through--5 times during meals. He looked at me and said, "well, everyone is obsessive, compulsive, or neurotic in some way." Yes, I agreed, but isn't this unusual behavior? He asked, "What do you and your husband do?" I told him we were both lawyers. All he said was, "Case closed. She's doomed."

Total 1 comments

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