By: Melissa Archer/
Venting, when only Venting can capture the hard days
I know how good life is and also that things can generally be worse so I try to see the glass as ALWAYS “half full”, but being human there are also days where the “what if’s” slither out of the shadows and into plain sight. Once again, I was told “you must have the patience of a saint” from a well-meaning stranger. I wish to state that “quite frankly, no, I do not.” Something is awry in our Jazz’s universe. Once again, I am reminded that she is an insolvable puzzle, with ever-changing intricately unique Jasmynn shapes so that even when we think we begin to have a handle on the situation, the sand shifts beneath our feet and our darling girl becomes suddenly unfamiliar. After speaking to a group of college students last evening, I was left dumbfounded, to ponder the final question a young man asked of me, “Given the statistics, that 90% of special kids will be sexually abused, how will you know that that is what has happened, since she can’t tell you?” Deciphering, decoding, reconstructing from the ground up, the differences in her moods/actions/struggles? IDK. I am not able to go there, not now, not ever so I falsely tell myself she will be the 10% whom we keep safe-guarded against all that is evil. From another student, “How has having a child with autism impacted your family life, your marriage?” Where to begin?…Jazz’s autism holds us captive. The unpredictability of every situation beyond our control, which is life in general, forces us into high alert; always on edge, always prepared for the inevitable like when a projector screen will not work or when the internet is too slow or when the TV screen pixilates and the voice refuses to speak or when the final Jeopardy question is not “Art” like she demands it to be.. (on a bright note, she did say “dammit” softly when Alex did not say “Art”, which makes this mama smile ear-to-ear.) I used to be able to easily talk her down from these minor glitches saying, “Sometimes things don’t work. The TV is a pile of crap.” I tell it to her as much as I need to hear it said for myself, “It will be alright. Don’t worry about it.” But the truth is it won’t be alright as the problem created yesterday lingers for days, weeks, months, sometimes years. Jazz’s memory is a visual steel trap. She doesn’t forget anything from the most minor of details to the really big scary things which force us to never drive on a certain side of town or enter a certain building ever again.
As a parent, the one who will spend the next several decades learning & living side-by-side with her after the school years have evaporated into the mist, having the knowledge of those most difficult moments remains the key to solving and moving forward, beyond the difficulty. Take school, for example, 5 days a week for 6 hours at a time, she is away from the memory-keeping mama. I get small snippets, glimpses (typically, the worst views rather than the uplifting, positive moments) in a small blurb of an email from the staff 5x a week on a good week. I am not there to know why she would scream 146 times on a Monday nor can I comprehend why it would take data gathering & tallying of incidences before reporting out to me she was having a really hard day. As mom, the one who carried her for 9 months in my tired old womb and then who battled through 5 years of sleepless nights and no napping, I have come to know her better than anyone. I have the “mama’s touch” and anyone who has a mom knows what that means. I will be there to kiss the hurts and hopefully to hold her hand, to reassure her that “mom can fix it” when often I am nothing more than an imposter, with no magic wand, and no insight as to fixing anything, but I have her believing in me which comes with a heavy load. Hence, my wine goblet which I find half-full at the end of many a day while making no apology for how I best cope with the stresses of having a challenging child. I tip my glass to those who figure it out and trust that your journey be peace-filled, but know that you are not alone. Even the best of us have to let the dark shine in on occasion, if only so that the onlookers don’t think we have the patience of a saint.
If you would like to read more about Melissa Archer and Jasmynn you can follow them on their blog Page at
You can also learn more about Jasmynn’s Voice by visiting their website at
Melissa Archer is a retired English teacher, and mom to 5 girls (ages 40-16). Melissa worked at Lenawee P.R.E.P. for 7 years with the teen moms. She is now the President and co-founder of Jasmynn’s Voice, a 501c3 which has been gifting iPads/otterbox cases/ AAC apps to those struggling with language delays due to Autism since they began it in 2012.by