How Do You Measure Success?

How do you measure success? In sports, there’s a winner and a loser. In a race, it’s whoever crosses the finish line first. For me and it’s always been this way, even before having a child with special needs, I set a goal, make a plan and complete it.  I make a lot of lists. I MEAN a lot of lists. There’s something so lovely about crossing things off. The reward center in my brain dings. When I’ve completed a list, and done things well, it’s like the I’ve hit the jack pot, lights flashing, sirens blaring and coins clinking. There’s a tangible reward or pay off. I can look at a crossed off completed list and go to bed at night knowing I accomplished something.

I don’t always get that same feeling with motherhood. Rewards keep you motivated and going. When you don’t have a particularly emotive son, it can be tough. Don’t get me wrong I adore my son!   I know the feeling is mutual. Smiles, giggles and novel speech are very special in our house. Our hearts break up when we hear novel speech. Don’t get me wrong my son can communicate and is verbal. A lot of his speech is very programmed. If you’re an educator or another special needs parent you can tell this guy had a lot of intervention and worked hard, but talking is still hard. Most of his spontaneous speech is still a couple words bunched together. We are fluent in J man so we get what he’s saying. It’s rare to get a full sentence or an actual question. Friends with teenage daughters say be thankful they never shut up. Friends with teenage sons say you get more than I do he just grunts.

Crispy, yet still raw cookies(FYI, we still ate them) Notice the J man’s smile

Last week we had our first real day in the kitchen. Of course, I had my list. We were testing times and temperatures for three recipes and checking on a few other things. I thought we’d be in and out in 2 hours of the rented kitchen space. We ended up spending close to three hours, FAIL. Here’s a list of the fails in the kitchen last Friday

Not quite figuring out, the 3 sink set up

Getting the 3 sink set up properly the first time– FAIL

Scooping cookies with an even and consistent size- FAIL

Getting a cooking time for cookies-FAIL (we produced crunchy on the outside, raw in the middle cookies)

Setting up a double boiler- FAIL– (we eventually got it, but took 20 minutes to turn on burner)

Cooking time for brownies- FAIL – (we produced muddy, more like fudge sorta, not suitable for sale)

Cooking time for Bread/BRICK- FAIL– (we produced a paving stone)

Inventory of pans needed-FAIL– (No Time, totally unrealistic timetable)

Inventory of packaging- FAIL– (NO Time)

Weighing brownie ingredients- FAIL– (could figure out where to plug in scale)


Jeff came to pick J up from the kitchen. He could tell I was totally discouraged. I was worried about what we got ourselves into! Not one recipe we tried came out well! Nothing was appropriate for resell. Jeff assured me that I wasn’t going to get everything perfect from the start. We were testing. That was the point of testing. I started to worry about the promises I made to the families of guys I hired. J and Jeff left for his next thing. I stayed waiting for the brick/bread to come out of the oven and thinking it was all an epic failure.

After about 20 minutes, I got a call from Jeff. He said your guy was all smiles. I asked him if he liked the kitchen, he said IT WAS AWESOME.  Not a programmed response! Totally his! And a full sentence!

SUCESSS!!!!! Bells were ringing and sirens were going off!! He loved it. I’d forgot about my big goal to make a place in the world for J as an adult. I did it. He was smiling and talking. He was happy. It was no failure. Failures do not move forward. We are going to learn from our mistakes. We are going to investigate and innovate! We’ll figure out the ovens and where everything is in the kitchen.

Big smile and super proud of himself! Happy to be in a real kitchen!

From J’s mouth to God’s ears! It was awesome. We are going to be awesome. We are awesome.