Couldn’t Come Up With A Title.


As 2016 morphed into 2017, work surged. Busy at work is a good thing but there is also an ugly side to it as well.  An increase in volume means an increase in revenue, an increase in expenditure and in working hours, increased tiredness and shorter fuses.  Add to that raising 2 teenage boys, one a bit more difficult at times than the other, perimenopause, running a household and well, living life.  I thought I had a head start when I made sure we transitioned from the Christmas mode early enough in anticipation of the workload, but really, we all know you just can’t be ahead of the game all the time, especially when you want to be or feel like you have to be.  Very quickly things began to get on my nerves and while I tried to stay even keeled and patient, I was feeling like I just wanted to scrape off everything and everyone close to me. I literally felt like life was clawing and scratching its way all over me and it was overwhelming.

Needless to say when that happens around here, so do some pretty intense and “spirited” arguments followed by most certain tension.  Over the years Tom and I have been very real.  We have a good, strong marriage but certainly not a perfect one but we work at it and have fun with it as well.  I have known people who have said they never argue or fight ( oddly enough one person who has said this to me so many years ago in my living room in Brockville with her cutesie, shitty little smirk comes to mind.  She has since divorced her husband … go figure little Miss goodie Two Shoes Critical ).  Living together and working together has been a skill my husband and I have mostly mastered over the years and I say mostly because there are some damn days when mmmmm boy….OYE!  Alas, we are human.  It’s been better lately and we are getting through the crunch of the workload and we are getting back to the system we are used to but occasionally we both sense that the other is at the edge of tolerance.  We haven’t really made time to do our usual Netflix marathon.  We have been out to lunch but have been too mentally wiped to really talk and of course we are being supportive of Logan as he writes his first high school exams – being available to listen to his presentations, be there to help him if he is stuck with the studying and of course to drive him and Adam to practices and meets and appointments.  Add a dash of Adam’s occasional particular brand of autistic adolescent B.S and you get two people who generally enjoy spending time together, just happy to sit in different rooms and of late, fall asleep long before the other comes to bed.

This self preservation and intentional and mindful increase in patience and tolerance of each other has shown me that working towards building a successful business is draining.  Don’t get me wrong, we earned it, we want it and we are doing it but the lesson here is the same lesson one learns when times are tight and there is not a dollar to spare.  The lesson one learns when the baby has colic and has screamed for 24 hours and you instantly had him off without so much as a thought or even a “hello” to the person who has been grinding it out at work all day.  It is the lesson that teaches you about making an even greater effort to keep the relationship healthy.   You have to make a greater effort to smile, to greet and to listen.  You have to make a greater effort to know when you have to cut into your unwind time, tablet time, computer time or TV time and include that person you fell in love with.  You have dig deep inside yourself and make a great effort to make the time you spend together become time spent together and you have to make a greater effort to leave work at the doorstep.

We have a good but busy year ahead of us.  The tension is there but we have a better awareness of it, I feel.  I’d like to get back to being mushed together on the couch watching some TV series and I’d like us to be in bed at the same time, falling asleep at the same time and waking up late and staying in bed chatting about our random heavy duty topics without having to jump out of bed and get a head start on the workday.  I hope our lunches and dinners out can be free of the distraction of these initial busy first months or that these months will fly by and we can re-connect over a meal the way we usually do.

At least, though we …he… has taken a step toward that in the form of the grand gesture of us going to New York for my 50th birthday.  He has never been and I love going there and I am looking forward to sharing this experience with him.  I hope when we are there we let go of everything for the four days and I hope that time away from our usual environment will allow us to experience that familiar feeling we both love about marriage – the feeling of being “at home” when you are with the person you love. We are lucky, Tom and me.  We have had a hell of a ride on the fastest of roller coasters. Anyone who knows post-baby Daniella, will tell you I am no longer a willing coaster rider but on the life ride with Tom, in this marriage, in this crazy world with these two humans we are trying to raise to be good men, I have always felt safe with him.  As much as I may question or doubt, I can honestly say, he has always stuck to his word when he says everything will be alright.  He makes things right. He makes them better and he makes bad experiences fade into the past.  We have loved passionately, fought passionately, been worried, afraid,  hopeful  and happy on this life ride.  We have seen dark times and the brightest days and his optimism and my perseverance have complimented each other in a way that is demonstrated by the characteristics of our sons.  In some bizarre way, we work and well… we fit.  And as maddening as we can be to each other, and as polar opposite as we are there, is no one I would rather love, kiss, hug, lay beside, work with, sigh at, roll my eyes at and be frustrated with. I was reminded of that this week when I heard that my friend’s husband passed away and just this second when Tom told me one of his radio bosses (not much older than we are) also passed.  I have seen my clients go through it and I have seen my mother deal with it and I can see how painful, frightening and unfair it is to have the person you love leave you behind.  Life is so unpredictable and can change in the blink of an eye.  I hope for the retirement brochure image.  You know. that idyllic scene of two people travelling and exploring a new phase of life in their more mature years.  I yearn for it, pray for it, though I know it is only 50% up to us to get there as the other 50% is pure fate. I also fear not getting to experience it because I want it so badly.

So, tomorrow is another busy day.  He is booked solid with appointments and I will divide my time between getting my office into work space condition, touching base with a few clients about some projects on the go and going through and responding to our e-mails.  We will be working as a unit in the most separate of ways, ploughing through this next month, coming up for air when we get to the Big Apple. This is our life.  It’s not perfect and it is not always fair and it is not always all shits and giggles but I think it’s pretty great, even when it sucks because I’d rather it suck with my three men than without them.  Whether you are in a state of bliss, state of despair or in some kind of weird funk like me, I wish you peace and I wish you the good sense to always reflect on what you have and what you stand to lose.  ( Of course, if your situation is utterly shite and you need to move on, please do, because this is not about putting up or being content to settle with a terrible person or situation no matter what  – let’s be clear on that).  Here’s to clarity, to ploughing through tough times to get to the better times and here’s to time well spent with those well loved.


Adam is 17.

Dear Adam,

This blog entry starts with a long,deep breath and the blinking away of a few tears.  Maternal emotion is at play as I reflect upon you, my son, my dear Adam, as you turn 17 today.  The overused saying of mine “Didn’t I just have you?” swims in my head as I write this and I am trying not to say it, as I know it provokes the usual eye roll from you and your brother, but I really don’t know where time has gone when I look at you guys.  I hope your childhood was long enough and filled with all the love, innocence, wonder and fantasy that all children deserve.  I hope your memories make you smile more than they do not and with the not so good ones that were our fault, as your parents, know that we are sorry, we hope you recognize we are merely humans and forgive us.

Disney-2011 and 2013


Disney-2011 and 2013

I know you are not able to focus on my wordy entry but I know you will read some of it and look at the photos and recognize the music in the videos and one day someone may read it to you or you might even find the time later on in your life to read this long after I’m gone.  This is my medium and much like your music and art and sports, this is how I express myself best and I had to write this for you because I believe it is important to let people know how you feel about them.  You know, like that John Mayer song we would listen to. “Say“.

Looking at the photos of you over the years was my inspiration for this piece.  I have 17 years of fantastic photos of you, Adam, and I remember everything about the day each of them was taken.  One can never pinpoint the moment you go from being a new born baby,

Baby Adam

Baby Adam

to this person,

Adam the kid

Adam the kid

to this happy guy, the-kidmore-adam

How much and how quickly they grow and change

How much and how quickly they grow and changetall-boy-2tall-boy

all the way to being the young man who towers above me today.  But what I do know, is that it has been my great honor and privilege to witness it all.  Your journey was and to an extent still is a difficult one. It is not without it’s hiccups, challenges and frustrations and in our case worry and frayed nerves but you have handled it by trusting in my 50/50 promise.


Under the smiles, sometimes there was worry.

When you were 5 years old, and I was trying to make sense of our family – trying desperately to hold on to all of us as we rode this tidal wave of autism, I promised you that we would come into your world and meet you half way, if you took our hand and came half way into ours. Thanks, Adam, for meeting us head on with courage, trust and determination.  People commend us for parenting you but we certainly could not have done any of it if you, my dear boy, were not a willing partner.  I told myself if you were happiest staying exclusively in your world, I would find a way to accept and be happy with your choice, but intuition, stubbornness and I’d like to think love, encouraged you to let me, Daddy and Logan into your life and I am ever so grateful you trusted us


and thought us worthy of your curiosity and time. Thank you for teaching us even more than we taught you.  By letting us in, you learned that all we wanted was for you to be happy and to include you in our family.  Your dad didn’t care about the things anyone said you couldn’t do, he just wanted to give you and Logan a joyful, happy life and he strives to make your lives happy and special every day.  I am sure we can all agree that Dad really knows how to make everything fun and you boys are lucky and blessed to be able to call him your father.


Great Wolf Dad

Great Wolf Dad

I used to believe and say “Adam can beat autism”.  I have never been happier to be wrong and cast such a foolish thought aside. I know now that there is nothing to beat.  I no longer wish this condition was not a part of our lives.  I no longer wish it could leave you because without it you would not be the athlete-adamwinningmarathon-athletethe-athlete

elite athlete, artist or musician you have become. Our normal would be much like everyone else’s I suppose and we would be quite mainstream and ordinary. Now that I think about it, none of us in this family is meant to blend in, so in a weird way, your autism has made our lives perfect. If you did not have autism, you might have been ill with some horrible disease or maybe you would have been involved in some dangerous things, I have no idea.  But here you are, different, special, talented and perfectly peculiar.

Adam's Art

Adam’s Art

The Natural - Never had a lesson - Oh, SO good!

The Natural – Never had a lesson – Oh, SO good!

Whenever we took you to speech therapy at the Children’s  Hospital in Alberta, your Dad would say, “Look on the bright side, we get to walk past Oncology”. My point (and his) is everyone, every family has something – some struggle, some issue to overcome or live with and your autism, while a challenge for you and for us, has made us better people.  It has also made us very tired. worn down and frazzled people at times, but at the end of each day, we are better for it because you are worth it. Your autism has allowed us to meet many fabulous people and has allowed us to see the true colours of others.  It has forced Dad, Logan and me to think harder and be more creative, patient and flexible when trying to include you in our world.



"Just Dance" with Dad

Just Dance” with Dad

I know there were times we got it terribly wrong.  I know we (especially me) are hopelessly flawed.  I know I have not been the best mother to you sometimes and that I let anger, grief and frustration get the better of me but the one amazing thing that always helped me do better by you (and Logan) is that forgiving, welcoming and loving piece of you that not even the autism can hide.  You make me try harder at being the mother I need to be and can be for you guys and I think if you were not autistic I might have taken a lot for granted and we all may have missed out on the great things we get to experience through you.

So Adam, I hope you enjoy this photo story of your life.  From the moment you cried your first cry and stopped at the sound of your father’s voice and took his finger, to the first time I looked at you and held you, I knew you would take us down a path like no other.  You were alert and strong and ever so calm and even when the storm of autism rolled into our lives, there was something about you that spoke to every instinct I had that urged me never to give up, never settle and to always challenge you and push you and me for more.  It was what you needed as much as what I wanted and it is because of that drive we both possess, we are able to snub those who doubt your abilities, those afraid of your autism and who have let their hang ups and fear get in the way of them getting to know the unique and wonderful person you are. Adam, you have shown time and again there is nothing you can’t do and I urge you to keep tasting the sweetness of this world.  Go for things head on as you always do and embrace the joyful feeling of accomplishment. You are astonishing and impressive, my son and I know you always will be.

You have worked so hard at living and dealing with life everyday that you have been and will continue to be successful. Thanks for your kind of cool …

Our unique, quirky and cool Adam

Our unique, quirky and cool Adam


street-hockey for trusting us and trying all sorts of new and sometimes scary things …

beach-loverbeach-love-2 for loving the beach, the waves and having no problem getting sandy and gross … Thank you for being open to learning how you can lend a helping hand.

Adam helping out with chores

Adam helping out with chores

Thanks for showing me Grandad Barsotti lives in you by honing in on that gene that allows you to  sit and relax in true Trini/Barsotti style.

Now this is a Great Grandad and Grandad and Great Uncle Frank Barsotti sit.

Now this is a Great Grandad and Grandad and Great Uncle Frank Barsotti sit. Truly relaxed and ahhhh,,,

Thanks for coming out of your comfort zone and fostering friendshipsfriendships  and reaching milestones and going through rites of passage you didn’t have to, but showed us that you could.

Adam's confirmation

Adam’s confirmation

retaineracne We’ve see you through the retainer and the acne and we still suffer through your teen behavior and moods (although less so lately), trying to figure you out the best we can.  Thank you for learning how to control your emotions and understanding that we are really trying to help you through the difficult times.  Thank you for being open to Grampa teaching you how to drive the boat and the 4-wheelers and for understanding and accepting that while you drive them very well, unlike many teens, it is not driver  fishing 1driver-2 possible for you to drive a car.

your-zen  Thank you for your zen, your great personal taste and love of food …

Only Adam will order a veggie burger with bacon.

Only Adam will order a veggie burger with bacon.

Thank you for getting to know and loving your brother and for stepping up and being his big brother whenever you could …IMG_0722 freezie 1freezie 2

Thanks for the moments where you remind us that you are “in there” and at the end of the day, you are just another teenager rockin’ out at a concert.

Adam at The Script Concert in Toronto

Adam at The Script Concert in Torontoat-concert-2 concert-adam

Thank you for teaching us how to see life through your eyes … for showing us how to take the time to see the details we so often miss.  Thanks for dipping your toe, then your foot then jumping into the tumultuous waters of this bizarre world of ours and for letting us enjoy the quirky, alternate world that is yours.  Autism makes you, you and it’s okay to dive in there and hang out in it to connect to who you are.  Don’t let anyone ever stop you from submerging yourself into your world to comfort and take care of yourself.  We are blessed to have you. And anyone who meets you, should be honoured if they get the opportunity to get to know you. You matter to us and the world needs you just as you are. As we have promised to enter your world, I only ask that you continue doing us the kindness of coming out of it and joining us as much as you do now because we enjoy you and love having you in our world.  We love your smile. We love your laugh.


your-smile-2handsome-adam dancing-adamHappy Adam

We love you. You make our world complete.

Someday, Dad and I will be gone.  Where there is birth, there is death and that is why it is so important to live as much life as you can in between.  For the days when we are no longer here and you find yourself feeling not so great and maybe a little lost or unsure, remember you are loved. And remember you have Logan.  From the womb to tomb, as your mother,  I will always love you, the way only a mother can understand. Remember to listen to that tell tale song I would play in your room in Montreal when you were little – “Candle on the Water”  beautifully sung by Helen Reddy from the original movie “Petes Dragon“.

I never knew why I needed to pick you up and hold you tight as often as I did and dance around the room with you to a song that had such tear provoking lyrics. Lyrics that speak of someone lost who needs a help…needs a life line. It seems that way before your diagnosis, way before there was anything to be suspicious of, this song made me acutely aware that you would need something more from me. That you would need me to dig deep and fight and advocate for you.  Like this song was on that favourite CD of ours like an omen.  I knew it then and I know if you listen to this song anytime when I am no longer here, it will remind you that you are never alone and you will feel the comfort and love you seek.

Happy birthday 17 year old.  Just like in this other old favourite of ours,

I think I can safely say I am not worried about your future any longer because my boy things did get easier. Things did get brighter and dare I say we got it all done.

Love you forever.  So proud and in awe of you.  ~ Mom.