Thank You Mom, I DO Act Just Like Him

We’ve had several long days out of the house.  Large chunks of it were frustrating and difficult because my children were home on Spring Break.  (Officially over as of now, this is the weekend, and everyone goes to school and work on Monday.)

The best part of Friday was spending time with my Mom.  My Mommy loves me!  We were talking about all the paperwork I’m keeping track of all of a sudden and she came up with a thoughtful way to help.  She brought me a whole box of nifty filing supplies and it was the best present ever.  After lunch and haircuts, we sat in the park and watched the kids play.  I organized my bag full of paper and pulled out appropriate reports for her to read.

It was interesting to get her take on some of it.  As she read the reports about her grandson’s diagnosis of autism, she said, “A lot of this sounds like how you were as a kid.”  And I completely agree.  (Although, I don’t remember getting ready for school and only putting on one sock.  I do remember that getting ready for school was an impossible task many days.)

As always, this diagnosis makes me wonder where does his behavior cross the line between autism and just being a kid?  Based on the initial testing, It sounds like we’re also dealing with an underlying chromosomal defect, we’re just waiting to hear exactly what, but that’s not inheritable.  But how much of his behavior is genetic and how much is autism?  How much of it is that he’s like me?

my bobby face.JPG copy

Me at an awkward stage, looking just like my son.

I have certainly found, that the things about my son that annoy and frustrate me the most are the times that he is most like me.  Parenting is an opportunity to experience upper-division classes in self-love.  Obviously, I still have my own crap to clean up, or I wouldn’t get such a clear reflection of the things I don’t want to see.

F’rinstance…

I had my own full-blown meltdown this morning.  My morning ritual is to make a cup of coffee and drink it while it’s hot.  My simple ritual was disturbed while I was feeling hungry and sleepy and overwhelmed.  (My kitchen is hideous, we’ve slept here every night, but we’ve been out of the house for several days and no one has done anything but make more messes.  Tomorrow is Easter, and no one has clean clothes and my husband is working overtime, so he needs clean clothes in a few hours.)

I resolutely went to the kitchen to make my one perfect cup of coffee.

My father-in-law, who lives in the basement now, ran out of his coffee while we were out, so he used mine.  The coffee cone was full of grounds where he spilled over the filter.  I calmly took the filter out and went to rinse out the cone.  The sink was full of dishes, so I rearranged the mess so I could use the faucet, getting a bit irritated with everyone that they can’t rinse a fricking dish or stack it in any sensible manner.  Breathe.  I reached for my pyrex measuring cup that I use to heat up my water, noticing that the bottom was filled with sludge, and the handle was sticky.

OH MY GOD I HATE STICK-EH!  ::font: sarcasm (Hmmm… What, me?  Texture issues? nah.) /endfont::

I went and cried for a few minutes and my husband found me and got me to tell him what was up.  He wanted me to check out the cool app he found.  I did, it was nifty, but I could tell I was approaching meltdown unless I got some food quickly.  So again, I squared my shoulders and faced the kitchen.  BREATHE!  Focus on what I want it to look like, focus on that perfect cup of coffee that I’m going to have.

I realized, gee!  I have another pyrex measuring cup and it’s clean.  I don’t have to touch the sticky thing until I’m ready to do the dishes.  Yay!  I started my water, rinsed out my cup, rinsed my cone, again, and put in a filter.  Opened the grinder to find almost a cup’s worth of coffee ground superfine.  (Note to self: tell grandpa about coarsely grinding the coffee, because fine can be too bitter.)  OK, get the new bag of coffee.  BREATHE!  I know he’s had to open it and it’s a beast to do it right.  Forgive him before you touch the bag.  OK, it’s f’ed up.  It’s okay.  BREATHE!  Trim a bit off and pour a bit in the grinder.  Fill the jar, fill the grinder, gently grind the beans.  Great, this is going smoother.  Water’s hot, smell the coffee.  This is going to be okay.

I reached for my caramel syrup, and it was gone.  😦  Grandpa strikes again.  F$%&!!!!  Can’t take it!  I was just at the ____ing store, there was enough syrup for at least a week!  Mother ____ing ____ sucking goat ____ing ($*%&W%&!!!!!!!!  Stay the F*&% away from my coffee!!!!!

I tried to be calm.  I breathed.  I faced it all, and lost it anyway.  I cried quietly while I got the cream, felt thankful that at least I had good coffee.  Grabbed a hard leftover piece of brown sugar and plunked it in my coffee, because that’s a nice treat and I was wanting sweet this morning.  Took my coffee upstairs and locked the door.

It will all be there when I feel sane enough to handle knives without frightening people.

I’m noticing all this emotion as I sit quietly and anchoring it so that I remember how helpful it is to be alone when I’m upset.  I forgive myself for getting so upset that I cried over a break in my routine like a little kid.  I forgive my son for being like me, and I forgive me for making him that way.  I allow myself to cry and release the tension.

Sheesh, I’m going to have to start keeping a tantrum log for myself.

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Shifting of Perspective

My realization recently, is that my son’s diagnosis helps me adjust my perspective.  I’m not stressing as much when he’s “not normal,” it’s not as upsetting that he needs extra help.  I’m focusing on how grateful I am that he functions so well.

We went to a crazy restaurant Friday night.  It’s an all-you-can-eat Italian place.  There aren’t long lines to look at all the food, there’s stations, with different types of foods, and piles of plates, you just dive in and serve yourself what you want.  There are big, fake trees throughout, with tables underneath.  Tables all crowded in close, and people, people, people everywhere!  It was loud and chaotic.  

This was NOT a place for my blind husband!  Normally at a buffet, we could go through the line together and he could tell me what he wants, and hold the extra plate.  Not here!  I mean, I had difficulty navigating it all.  So he was in charge of guarding the table and I guessed at picking out food for him.  At one point, I realized I had forgotten to get spoons for the tiramisu, and I noticed that there were spoons just across the aisle from us.  I stood up at the table, and simply stood there and waited for the traffic to die down.  It was like crossing a highway! 

Both of my kids LOVED IT!  I’m so excited by this!  Because I know there are so many ASD kids who would not cope with this environment.  The noise, the lights, the crowd, and unfamiliar food to boot!  But mine did great.  

The only thing he was a little nervous about was getting a dessert crepe, and there was a line for that station.  So I went and stood in line with him and discussed the choices.  I warned him that there could be bananas and strawberry sauce (bananas literally can make him throw up, and he just thinks strawberries are gross) and explained that he didn’t have to choose those things.  I read the sign to him so he knew his choices; he’s reading better, but this was all in cursive.  Before he even got to the head of the line, he said, “It’s okay, Mom, I’m good!”  And he proudly came back to the table with his crepe with caramel, chocolate, and vanilla sauce on top, and creme in the middle.

Sometimes I feel like he’s almost a different kid in public.

Both kids happily explored the restaurant and I’m so proud that both of them can behave in public AND be polite.  I really am blessed.

 

I Am Blessed With Friendly Contrast

Which, truthfully, is a much nicer way of saying, “Whoo-hee! Wow, I’m glad that’s not my life.”  I know that sometimes, my friends are saying the same thing about my life.  “So glad that’s your problem and not mine!”  We all provide each other contrast.  “See?  My life isn’t so bad.”

It’s not schadenfreude, there’s no joy of “Ha, ha!  Your life really sucks and mine is great.”  It really a feeling of thankfulness that I don’t have to walk that road.  Contrast is my friend.  It tells me, “I don’t want that!”  So that I can decide what it is that I do want and then feel gratitude for it.

When my son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, I was really relieved to get a diagnosis.  Yes, hearing that my child has something incurable can feel devastating, IF I let myself go there.  I’ve touched it, felt it, but it’s not something to wallow in.  The last hope of “He’ll grow out of it” has died.  I’ve been living with him for ten years now, and I’ve known that he’s different.  I’m just happy that finally a doctor has confirmed that my son is different and now finally the insurance will pay for therapy.  The label doesn’t really matter to me.  The label is simply a way to afford the therapies he so obviously needs.

I was encouraged to check out circleofmoms.com because of the numerous support forums for Asperger’s and PDD.  I’ve checked it out and had some fun answering posts and asking for help.  A lot of what I found there was stories that provided contrast that tells me that my life is wonderful and blessed.

I’m so thankful that my husband is patient, doesn’t scream at me or the kids or, worse, hit anyone.  I’m so thankful that my child uses the toilet on his own.  I’m so thankful that my son wants to be social and that he can maintain his emotions well enough that his meltdowns only happen at home.  I’m so thankful that we have insurance and that we’re covered under HIMAT.  I’m so thankful that my husband still has a good paying job that provides that insurance.  I’m thankful for a school who is responsive to my son’s needs and that he’s able to be in a mainstream classroom.  There is so much I’m thankful for.  The list goes on.

I spent the morning talking to a friend about her challenges with her son, who is undiagnosed with anything, and she’s not seeking a diagnosis, though she admits that, yeah, she’s thinking probably Asberger’s.  She’s a single mom, and has no insurance, so therapy isn’t something she can afford anyway.  She has pulled her son out of school because he was miserable and he’s suddenly a much happier person, actually social and more able to cope.  Now, on her own, she’s trying to figure out how to homeschool him and cope with his anxiety symptoms.  If it were anyone else I’d be terrified that she would end up isolated and crazy, never leaving the house, but her life doesn’t allow that, so her son just comes with her.  I can offer support but I can’t fix it, like us all she’s doing what she can with what she has.  Don’t know that he is autistic.  Autism isn’t something that is cured, it’s something that you cope with and I think she’s going to do her best.

Just talking and listening to her really puts it in perspective that my problems are miniscule and laughable.  My boys are some of the few kids he’s even willing to play with that are close to his age so we’ll be getting together soon.

I’m going to see my best friend tonight, even though it’ll be rush hour and she’s practically in BFA  (just as far as BFE, but Aurora not Egypt, so more cops and drug deals.)  She’s sick, again, and moving in three weeks.  I was going to go help her pack Friday night, but now it sounds like we’re getting 8″ of snow tomorrow night, so I don’t think I want to go get snowed in.  (It’s in the 60’s today.  God, I love Colorado!  Good job!)  I’m hoping to make her sit still and just pack her kitchen while we chat.

We have a mutual contrast thing going on.  She’s thankful she doesn’t cope will all the BS here at my house, I’m thankful for my health, and still have moments of strong enviousness of her solitude.  There are moments where living alone with my cats sounds really good!

Anyway, she’s lost her voice again, and she pointed out that she really has some sympathy for her parents’ Corgi.  They adopted a Champion show dog and spent a bunch of money doing so, just so they could retire him.  They did it because they were offended by the cruelty of the fact that he had been de-barked.  So my best friend has been temporarily been debarked.  The realization of the morning is that honestly, she’s pretty Corgi-like already.  Blonde, full-sized, but short legs, extremely smart and loyal, with a wicked bite.  lolololol

Contrast is there all around us.  May it be friendly contrast and may you appreciate it and cherish it and use it as your ally.

Arf.  Image