braver than you believe


The note I left in Katie’s lunchbox this morning


Thank you.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for telling me your own stories in return.

Thank you for never letting me forget that as isolating as this journey can be, neither I nor my children are on it alone.

Thank you for asking if my Katie’s OK.

I can not say that this is an easy time for her. But she’s a strong kid. And Mama’s mobilized the cavalry. She knows she’s not alone. She’s finding out that she’s stronger than she thinks she is. And that she has to be.

On Sunday afternoon, I had plans to go for a walk with a friend. I never, ever go for walks with friends. It was my Oxygen Mask. I couldn’t wait.

On Sunday morning, my girl broke down.

I called my friend. “I’m so sorry, but we need to reschedule. My girl needs me.”

That afternoon, Katie and I went out. Just us.

We had lunch together. We did a little spring shopping. And then we went here ..

Katie and her new friend Oliver

Yes. I bought my kid a guinea pig.ย 


Because she didn’t ask for a pony.ย 

On the way home from the pet store, she thanked me a million times over. But not for Oliver. For the TIME that I’d carved out just for her. For understanding that she had needed her Mama. For prioritizing her. For canceling plans that she knew were important to me.

And then she did me in.

Holding Oliver in the cardboard box we’d fashioned as his carrier, she closed her eyes and turned her face to the sun.ย She smiled like a Cheshire cat.

“Mama,” she said, “I really hope your friend still got to go for a walk. It’s such a beautiful day.”


Yes, thank you for asking.

I think she’s going to be just fine.

29 thoughts on “braver than you believe

  1. Such a sweet girl! PS We Just bought a guinea pig last Friday! They are super cute and fun! Enjoy your new friend ms. Katie!

  2. Though no one can predict the future, I suspect Katie will be just fine. She has a good support system and knows how loved she is. That’s half the battle right there.

  3. Lovely girl, lovely mother, lovely (?) guinea pig!! Reminds me of Squeaky, my son’s kindergarten class’s guinea pig. Hugs to all of you.

  4. There is not a doubt in this world that our Katie will be fine. She has everything it takes including the precious ability to ask for what she needs.

    I hope you will also have the ability to ask your friends to give you times to put on that oxygen mask and go for other much needed and deserved walks.

    Love you,

  5. I always have a one day a week that Kaye and I have our time together. With our busy schedule, it’s rough but even a trip to Wal-Mart (her favorite place to go) is enough to brighten her entire week. I also do the same with her younger sister so no one gets left out. My husband does the same. The girls love visiting him at work (he works at GameStop) because the manager always has a treat for them. LOL

  6. She is strong because of who she is and because of how her mama listens–really, really listens to her and that gut instinct. xo

  7. I’m sorry it’s been tough. My little one is only 6 months old, and I’ve said before….I think about this. A. LOT. I dread it. But I also know it will make her a more patient, compassionate, understanding, and tolerant human being. Just like I believe god chose me to be Cymbie’s mom, God chose Ainsley to be her little sister. I hope Katie enjoys her adorable new friend. I’m happy she got the time she needed with you, and I’m sorry you had to skip your mask, and put on hers. xoxo

  8. She is one incredible daughter, sister and friend. Cats don’t have dogs ๐Ÿ™‚
    (or maybe guinea pigs don’t have hamsters?)
    I love that smile and that picture. Glad you had that special time together.

  9. Your Katie is someone really, really special…. she is going to be great not only because of her unique kindness and empathy, but because she has a wonderful mom like you to help her, guide her and love her….. I hope easier days are ahead!!

  10. I am with Gail. After I read your words I just don’t have the words to respond. Your Kaite is on amazing girl and she is gonna be more than okay because she has an extraordinary mom! Holding you.

  11. Love it. Our version of the Guinea pig is a billion matchbox cars and hair bows. Thank you a thousand times over for sharing. So often you help me figure out the right questions, or at least help lead me in the right direction. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your posts!!!

  12. Awesome! Love it! I knew Katie would be ok because..well she is Katie…and because she is/has you. The best thing we can do for our “Katies” is to teach them to use their own oxygen mask. My “Katie” aka Caroline and I have scheduled “Oxygen Mask” time. Last month when she was having girl issues at school (Middle School ugh!) I took her to my salon for eyebrow waxing and to my hair dresser for highlights. She rocked it at school the next monday. She felt good. It’s all about the oxygen mask!! They need to learn to put themselves on the list. Thanks for sharing your stories with us. Thanks for sharing your family with us. We are not alone!!

  13. You did me in. Can’t find too many words after that. She will be OK..she has you…and the ability to tell you what she needs.
    Haven’t had to deal with this yet. My son is only 2 1/2 …and he knows something is different about his 5 year old sister. He tells me he loves her and that she is “cute” (LOL). But thank you for sharing and giving me guidance for how to handle the future. Awesome…as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. You aren’t too specific about Katie’s struggles…I wonder if some of the girls at school are jealous that she is now a professional model? Human females are at their meanest during the tween and teen years..

  15. You are sure lucky to have two such outstanding & strong Daughters !! We also love those lines from Winnie Pooh & Piglet !! Molli & Robin

  16. The stories you relay about Katie’s struggles (the ones that are in her words especially ) I share with my 12 year old son who can so relate. Some are so one the dot how he feels, and I am so grateful to be able to show him that he is not alone and there are others out their who understand exactly how he feels.

    I also can see that it also relieves his guilt when he is frustrated and feels the burden of having a sibling who requires so much attention and time and understanding. Like recently when one of his friends came over and the next day at school told stories about his brother who is 2 years younger reenacting an entire episode of Blues Clues or requesting to watch (pause for dread) Angelina Balerina . What do you as a 12 y.o. boy? Do you throttle him in a fierce act of protectiveness, act cool and laugh, or hope the earth swallows you up or that you actually die of embarrassment and not have to face this. My boy swallows it and says he understands how weird it looks and tries not to get mad, he realizes that they have no way of understanding, and tells himself I’ll take the hit for this one. I can see him tell himself its not really not that big a deal and shove his feelings aside. And I die.

    Thank you for giving me the words to articulate my feelings so well and for inspiring me to start conversations that need to happen. I am always shocked at the depth of character they reveal in my 2 NT sons.

    When I mourn for their nonexistent ‘normal’ lives and I watch them learn lessons the I didn’t learn until college my heart always breaks a little. I amaze over the gifts they will receive too about what brings true happiness, not things unfortunately learned by watching so many of their things destroyed on a regular basis by such a sensory seeking brother, and how to really love someone by loving someone who does not give back the traditional way, and to really know someone by looking past behavior and words to see their true being, they know how to put their ego aside to get to truth and work towards resolution. Their world wouldn’t be so hard if everybody else was so self-actualized. They could teach classes if they knew how to discern and articulate the skills and gifts they have. They are in some ways so ahead of the game. I struggle with a way to show and teach them though that their role in life is not just a support role, they deserve to shine. They deserve too to feel like they can fall apart at times and scream for and demand the attention they need and not feel so guilty; and to feel that what demand of them is too much at times and know to let us know. I was raised with a needy sibling and grew up thinking it is my job to help everybody else and to see when anyone was in pain and needed help and to give it. Not bad traits but without balance you loose yourself and this also doesn’t really work vey long when you have a child with autism – you NEED an oxygen mask. So I’m grateful to you for reinforcing the fact of how important it is for my ‘other’ boys to not always feel like the ‘other’ boys. And to think about ways for them to reach for their Oxygen mask.

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