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Me, Version 4.0

So, it's been a month.

I know, I know. Every time I have a lull from my blog, I think about how bad it is for my mental health. Writing has always been the thing that soothes my soul, and an absence from my favorite form of therapy just is not good for me.

It's been kind of a crazy month, full of distractions and changes for my little family and I. The biggest change is that I have gone back to work.

In my past life, I was a workaholic. I often worked 10-15 hour days, seven days a week. I would juggle two jobs with the rest of my life and I thrived on it. I liked being busy, I liked being productive, and I liked making my own money. It made me feel competent and womanly, somehow, to keep all of those balls in the air.

Ha, ha. I used "womanly" and "balls" in the same sentence. But I digress.

I was a workaholic (V. 1.0), then a wife (V. 2.0). Then I was a mama (V. 3.0), and the mamahood took over. It was not an easy decision for me to stay home with PJ, but it was the right one. We didn't have tons of bills, so going down to one working partner was okay. Pete was just embarking on his career as a nurse, but I was ready to slow it down for a bit and just mother. This was a luxury, for sure, and it's not the decision for everyone. But it worked for us.

Not long after PJ's first birthday, Pete and I started thinking about my going back to work. PJ was still nursing, but there was no reason to think that we couldn't make implement the plan of having two working adults in the house. But as we were starting to discuss it, we were also noticing that PJ wasn't meeting all of his developmental milestones. He wasn't talking much, if at all. He wasn't playing or socializing, either.

Of course, we all know what happened next. PJ was diagnosed with Autism shortly after he turned two. We had already put a number of therapies and treatments into play- the official need for all of that came later. But I was already in the trenches. PJ's therapies were five days a week. He had geneticist visits and developmental pediatrician checkups and auditory testing and on and on and on. Someone had to be home to facilitate all of that.

As time went on, not working was no longer a luxury. We really needed the extra income, but could not find a way to make my working fit in with our lives. But with PJ in school full time now, a door slid open a bit. An advocate who started out assigned to PJ through care that the state of NJ provides said to me one day "Hey. We need some people to do this job. Why not you?"

Well, why not me?

A frantic search for an interview outfit and one interview later, the job was mine. It's part-time, but my name will be on the paychecks. My desk is already set up and decorated and I have a small stack of files in my drawer, one for each of the families I will work with. My co-workers already know how weird I am. I am doing something productive and service-driven. It feels a tiny bit like my old self, peeking out from under the  pair of mom jeans and Uggs that had become my Standard Mom Uniform.

I won't lie. It's a little bit scary. And a little bit sad- PJ went on a play date today and I sat at my desk, looking at pictures Pete texted me of the kids hiding under the slides. The job won't interfere a ton, but there will be things I have to step back from, and after full-time mothering for over 6 years, it's a weird switch. But I am certainly not the first mother to go through his, and knowing that I have a whole battalion of sisters next to me who are walking this walk gives me a little extra jump.

So it's a new me this Spring, and I could not be more excited! Version 4.0, time to activate!

Watch me unfold...
    -Unfold, Marie Digby

Comments

Be kind to yourself as you acclimate to this huge change. You're going to be wonderful at that job! CanNt wait to see you Saturday.

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Today is April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, and it is Autism Awareness Month.

The month begins on the heels of news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Autism is on the rise. 1 in 68 children in the areas followed by the CDC are identified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, up from 1 in 88 just a few years ago. In New Jersey, the numbers are far higher then the national average at 1 in 45. 

You can view a summary of the latest CDC report here, but there are two points of the report that stood out to me:
Less than half (44%) of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were 3 years old.Most children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age 4, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age 2.Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
PJ was diagnosed with Autism shortly after his second birthday. Pete and I had already utilized an e…