Jsack's Mom's Blog

Welcome to my blog where I share my special needs parenting journey with my heart, truth, and love, one story at a time. ❤️

Irish in my heart

I’m fortunate as I grew up knowing and learning about my Irish heritage. I loved listening to the stories of my ancestors from my Gram and her sisters. Four of my Gram’s siblings came off the boat with their parents, for dreams of a better life. After the devastation of the Great Potato famine of 1845-1849 my Great Great Grandparents and their kin, survived and without them I wouldn’t be here today to tell this story.

Michael and Elizabeth left Scotland at the age of nineteen and traveled by ship to South Hampton, England. At the time, they had three daughters and a son in tow. With competition for jobs, financial security, and food being scarce with the population boom, they made their way to Canada and settled in British Columbia.

My Great Grandparents *image courtesy of my cousin*

My Great Grandfather Michael found work in the mines and was there for twenty-nine years. They hadn’t lived there in the community long when devastation ravaged the town with floods from 1848, to 1947, the mining disaster in May of 1908 that killed one hundred and three miners, and the Great Fire of August. 1 st of 1908 that destroyed the town.

My Great Grandma Elizabeth was pregnant with my Grandma Margaret and due to give birth that hot summer. There were ten lives lost and thousands of homes burnt to the ground. There was a lot of hardship and sadness that my ancestors had to encounter in the new land. I’m happy to report my Gram made it safely into the world as the hospital and the church were the few buildings that were left.

Time passed on with my Gram and her siblings growing up and their parents had added on to their family with four more daughters. More hardship would come to the family as the mine would be closed in order to investigate the fire of 1908. My Great Grandpa Michael had to find work elsewhere. All the daughters worked as well or helped look after the youngest children.

My Great aunts such lovely lasses. *image courtesy of my cousin*

That was the life back then, everyone had a strong work ethic and supported one another. I remember my sweet Gram Margaret telling me stories of her housekeeping days, collecting oranges at the train yard, and working as a caddy at the golf course. The sisters all went on to marry and have families of their own. They still remained close as they raised their children and visited each other when they were Grandparents.

My Gram and 3 of her 5 sisters *image courtesy of my cousin*

A tragic accident in 1917, took the life of the youngest family member Josephine and she died at the age of two, with severe burns to the chest and abdomen. Poor baby girl lighting up the world with her beauty and smile, and for her life to be snuffed out like a candle is so sad. Peter, the only son of nine children returned home from World War 1 and fell ill as well. He succumbed to cerebral meningitis at the age of twenty-six on March. 17th 1922.

He was to sing in the St. Patrick’s day concert that evening for the Knights of Columbus, and he sat up in bed and sang then died. The song that he sang was Danny Boy, a beautiful Irish melody that is dear to my heart to this day.

My Great uncle *image courtesy of my cousin*

After the youngest daughter and only son had passed just 5 years my Great Grandma Elizabeth became ill. My Grandparents were set to get married in the summer month of July and Elizabeth passed 9 days before the wedding. Instead of the church wedding that was planned they quietly got married in the priests rectory of the Holy Family Catholic Church.

My parents got married there as well and my middle sister followed suit and my husband and I proudly married there after. As a devout Irish Catholic family that attended mass every Sunday and invited the priest over for dinner after one of my Great aunts went into the sisterhood. She took the name Sister Michael and lived out her young life devoting herself in service to God.

She passed tragically in a car accident when I was a little girl and my Gram would tell me stories about her love of the family and of the church. There was always tears and hugs given when she spoke of her siblings that had passed on.

My Great aunt Elizabeth and her Father Michael *image courtesy of my cousin*

I celebrate my dearly departed loved ones memories and I carry on the namesake of my Great Grandma, my Great aunt, and my Mom. My Great Grandpa Michael lived on to see his daughters marry and meet his Grandchildren. My Mom had a special relationship with him and would speak of him with joy on her heart. He passed on well into his 80’s to be reunited with his lovely wife and daughters and son.

My Gram and my Mom *image courtesy of my cousin*

My Gram and Mom always said I had the gift of my Great uncle’s vocal talent. To this day when I sing the song of my ancestors homeland Oh Danny Boy I feel uplifted on their angel wings. St. Patrick’s day is celebrated in our family household as much as the joy of birthdays. Wishing you all Irish blessings and may the luck and love of the Irish be with you always. 💚☘️

An adapted version of this story originally appeared on The Wellness Universe titled Irish heritage.

*Special thanks to my cousin Maureen for the use of her family pictures. The late night chats of our family’s story helped me feel closer to my Irish clan.*

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The birthday party

I was so excited when my son received an invitation to his new friends birthday party. Having a child with autism, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) birthday parties can be a double edge sword. Firstly, there’s the question of is he going to to be invited to any parties and secondly, do I stay for the party to assist him when he needs help?

The day arrived and I had done all the preparations with my son with a social story, drawing out a schedule, and keeping my visuals handy in case plans had changed. He was quite excited and I needed to drive around the block a couple of times till he can process his feelings.

We arrived at the birthday boys house and was met at the door by the parents. I explained I would stay for 30 minutes until my son felt comfortable then I would quietly leave. I knew I’d be the only parent there as by the age of 6 or 7 it’s a drop off and pick up event.

I haven’t been able to do that with my son in a neurotypical setting there’s a lot of variables to consider. Is the birthday fun going to be too overstimulating for him, will he understand that he can’t open the presents, and lastly will he understand when it’s time to leave.

I sat quietly on the couch making small talk with the parents and surveyed the yard where a nerf gun war was taking place. I had to firmly and directly tell my son the rules as he wasn’t interested in leaving the well stocked toy room. He eventually made it outside and joined in the fun that the other guests were having.

I didn’t want to be that type of parent helicoptering around my son son so I made myself as inconspicuous as possible. With the play getting more intense I could see my sons eyes glaze over and I knew it was time to switch to another activity. That didn’t work out so well so I joined in with playing a football game and hoping my son would want to play as well.

The distraction worked and we were happily tossing the ball back and forth when it was time to come in to have snacks and open presents. My son wasn’t interested in eating but I had begged him to have some carrots as it will fill his sensory seeking need once the game was cut short.

All the kids gathered around and off my son disappeared to a bedroom to have some quiet time. I followed behind him to let him know I was there to help him and the kids were watching the gift opening. He had no interest in me being there or seeing the presents. He asked me to leave and said “I’m fine Mom I got this.”

As I prepared to leave I gave the parents my contact info in case I was needed earlier before pickup. My sons words of I’m fine echoed in my ears as I drove away. I prayed he would be as I wasn’t even close to being okay with leaving him behind.

I spent some time with my older son and then it was time to pick up his brother. I had made sure that I gave him 10 minutes to prepare himself to leave as I followed him to get his shoes and goodie bag. I set the timer on my phone and stood at the door as he got ready to go. As I turned to thank the family for having him at the party he bolted!

Luckily it was within the house and I could get to him quickly. I knew he was having a hard time with transitioning from leaving the party so I remained calm. He professed how he didn’t want to go and I told him all the reasons why we had to leave. I was doing my best to allow him time to process and reached for his hand only to be shot in the throat with a nerf gun.

I was taken aback and started coughing as I unprepared for that impact to my vocal chords. Much to my dismay this whole scene of me chasing him to get the gun and get him out the door was witnessed by all the guests in attendance. I’ve come to a point where I’ve been judged for my parenting that I only care about my child not others opinions.

In that moment I wanted to save my son from any future scenes of chaos and I have pulled him along and carried him out the door. I learned from this experience as it was the only thing I could do in order to help my son. Now I make sure we have a game plan in place and keep the party time to no more than 2 hours.

If things go south as my son reacts to transitioning I have my phone as timer, a little white board so I can draw out the plan ahead of time, and another activity to do as soon as we leave. As I reflect back I know now I was caught up with my son fitting in with his classmates and be like all the other typical kids.

Neurodiversity allows for thinking outside the box and my son is all about doing that in his own way with his stellar imagination. I realized that my need for him to be comfortable at the party spoke volumes about my fear of the unknown.

Now I meet my son where he’s at and time has proven to be the best teacher as well as steadfast love. If I focus on the things he can’t do like stay at a birthday party without me, then how will I celebrate the successes he has that he’s achieved in his own.

I’m happy to say there’s been other birthday parties and he’s felt comfortable enough to ask me to stay or ask to leave if it’s too sensory overwhelming for him. He’s grown and changed so much since that first birthday party and I know no matter what obstacle he faces he’ll be fine, and he’s got this.

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