I’m not a crier. I don’t have anything against it, but in my own personal experience tears only flow when anger overflows. I never quite learned how to have that tummy-jarring, hand-shaking, strangle-an-apple anger without ending up crying. What can I say? I’m not a fighter. But otherwise? Crying? I just don’t really.
I was thinking about Boy today. Thinking about how I don’t cry over his diagnoses. I didn’t cry about SPD, AD/HD, Dyspraxia or DBD-NOS and when the acronyms all meshed and flowed and settled on ASD like some overworked ouija board of acronym diagnoses I didn’t cry then either. That means something to me because, since I only cry when I’m angry, I’m therefore not ‘angry’ about his diagnosis. Right? What does that mean? Shouldn’t I be angry about it? Shouldn’t I hate it? Shouldn’t I be crying and shaking my fist at the evil autism fairies for striking my child? G-d knows how frustrating, tiring and helpless autism is. Being a spectrum mom ain’t a picnic.
I’m trying to teach Boy his emotions. We still don’t have ‘sad’ or ‘happy’ down quite yet. Oh, he can name them on cards and point them out in a Disney princess, but naming his emotions we just don’t have. I got through to him one day though. Somehow the stars aligned as that venting, red little face tore through the back door and his eyes met mine ( aaaaaaaiiiiiiiii knooooooow, right) and instead of hitting, his little fists just hung by his side while he tried (apparently) to share some mental image with me via telepathy of whatever wrong had assaulted him. Like sunlight.Or leaves blowing. Leaves are a bugger.
I pointed at his tummy and said ”That feeling you have right now, in your tummy, making you hot? That’s frustration. That’s when you tell me, “Mommy I’m frustrated” or “That makes me so frustrated.”
Out. Of. The. Ballpark.
If the kiddo is thirsty? Meltdown. Hungry? Meltdown. Sad, happy, excited, tired, etc to infinity? Meltdown. If he’s frustrated? “Mommy I’m so frustrated.” I hit that nail. On. The. Head.
I taught him to name that emotion.
It was only one.
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUT he has the name for his emotion. And in this kiddo’s life, frustration flows like water, so by all that’s holy I’m gonna polish that bad boy every day.
Thinking about that, thinking about how I never cried over a diagnosis, I don’t cry at the end of a hard day, I don’t cry over him, I began to wonder. Can I name that emotion?
It’s not anger. I know anger.
What is it?
I disagree with ehhhh… let’s pretend I know numbers… 50% of the other Mommy Bloggers; I say that autism is not a blessing or a gift.
Autism is something that tortures my son, right? Keeps him from sleep and play and friends. It keeps him from learning to read and eating on his own and getting dressed. It prevents him from knowing what it feels like to run down a soccer field. Ha! Just kidding. No it doesn’t actually. He’s quite the runner, especially when I’m not looking. But it does keep him from playing soccer. Like, with other children.
Autism sucks. I should hate it.
So… name that emotion?
What do I feel about it?
I have a collection of paper growing for my little man. Every paper ever written about him is copied and organized and hole-punched and bound and waiting for the next time it’s needed. Now I want to be very clear; I am not Martha. You can’t walk across my bedroom floor without stepping on jeans, robes, blankets or socks, some of them worn, some of them tried on and promptly discarded, some of them just because they were in my line of site in the drawer. But if you need a document about Boy it’s all there. In chronological order. Color coded. In binders. What drives a person to do that? To go OCD on paperwork like that when she doesn’t even know if the renewal sticker made it to her car.
OMIHOLYWHATDIDIDO. I don’t think the renewal sticker is on my plate. April. May. June. Oops. Um. Aww jeez.
Ok. No. I just checked. I literally just took a break and went out and checked. APRIL 2014. This is June 2014. It came in the mail… I saw it… and that was most likely in April. But it’s not on my tag. GREAAAAAAAT.
So I’m a flake. But not with Boy. Not with anything about him. Speech therapy. Occupational Therapy. Physical Therapy. PCIT. Behavioral Therapy. This evaluation. That evaluation. Sedation dentistry. First step. First word. First meltdown. And on and on and on. I know it. Like driving to Taco Bueno Yum on autopilot I know it.. I know it all inside out.
I don’t love autism. I don’t hate autism. Autism doesn’t make me angry. I think I just don’t really care about autism. I guess all ”autism” is to me is, well, the services and therapies we get because he has that label. Services I love. No. No, I don’t. I’d rather have play dates with another Mommy and sip Starbucks and get pedicures. But improvement from really great services by people who love my boy? I love that. Gratitude.
And since I mentioned love; by all that is holy, I love Boy. And I think maybe that’s it. That’s what the other 50% of the Mommy Bloggers mean when they say they don’t want to kick autism’s butt. Maybe they mean “My child is my everything. And that label is just his paperwork. It’s not him. It’s his challenge. Like someone who is too tall or too short or too freckled.” Only with meltdowns. Ha.
At the end of the day, when my tired, sore self crawls into bed there is no anger or hate, there are no tears, there’s no venting. But there really isn’t any ‘autism’ either because ‘autism’ is the paperwork that I’ve sorted and filed already. It’s over there on the shelf where I put things I don’t think about until I need them.
All there is here in this safe place we call home, all that is real in the quiet at the end of the night when I’m thinking instead of sleeping, is me and Boy. And if all that’s here is us, me and my Boy, then the only emotion I have here is love.
So I named that emotion. The one in the pit of my belly that makes me a tiger Mom and a flake. Jack Nicholson-OCD-Crazy Eyes and a little bit shameless Ma Kettle.
I’m me. But I’m ‘me’ fueled by love. A love that changes me into what he needs me to be, when and how he needs it.
Named. 1 job done. 10,000 left.
Goodnight, Autism. I realized I don’t care about you much. You’re filed with the other papers. Indifference.
Goodnight my little boy. My Decepticon transforming in the living room. My frog catching man with a bubble beard in the tub. My snuggle boy at bedtime who smells like lavender oil and bananas. Love.
Goodnight my love.
Boy: I love you.
Me: I love you, too.
Boy, tell me about love.
Boy: Love is big stinky poo poo in the toilet because I eat so much food.
Me: Oh. Yeah. A big poop is always good.
Boy: Oh yes.