I got asked.
I knew it was coming because I was second in line. I had a full two minutes to think about it.
It was all that I could come up with.
Until I heard “I wish I was retired, too.” That lit my fire.
Nothing makes you realize the absurdity of your own statement like a good reflection.
Plan B; “I’m retired from ____. I’m a full time student. I’m a stay at home Mom to a four year old boy who is severely autistic.”
It still wasn’t enough though.
“What do I do?”
I don’t “go to work.”
Don’t go shopping. Or out to restaurants. Vacations. Coffee dates. Pedicures.
What do I do?
I wake up a half a dozen times a night to make sure my son doesn’t get hurt during night terrors.
I chase him when he bolts, often grabbing him by the collar right before he runs into parking lots or streets. Because he won’t wear a leash and he’s too big for me to carry him around like an infant.
I hold him like a yogi-Jedi master-pro wrestler when he’s having a meltdown. I strain back and stomach muscles doing it.
I make certain he doesn’t eat cat poop and cat food.
I decide which counters he can lick and which ones are off limits. And shopping carts. And trees. And people.
I take him to occupational therapy. And physical therapy. And speech therapy. And behavioral therapy.
I hide toys in bins of rice.
I plan his sensory diet.
I practice PRIDE skills.
I laminate PECS.
I help him line up his toys so he is perfectly, ecstatically happy.
I write his name on bathroom walls with shaving cream and teach him to trace it with his finger. And I make him wait 30 seconds before he can rinse it off.
I wipe his bottom.
I turn his straw a perfect 90 degrees.
I read him stories.
I talk to him about the seeds in watermelons and how they grow into new watermelons. No, not apples.
I tell him about G-d and I hug him and kiss him and tickle him.
I schedule play dates with children even knowing there will be fighting and screaming and meltdowns.
I rub essential oils on him that I can’t afford and I give him deep tissue massages even though it’s my back, neck and muscles that ache.
I fail daily at teaching him how to comprehend danger or sing the alphabet or recognize sight words. I try everyday anyway.
I fail daily at teaching him how to ask for help or answer a question. I try everyday anyway.
I try. I fail. I research. I try again. And again. And again.
I read about and research everything he struggles with; SPD, expressive language disorder, receptive language disorder, lack of post rotary nystagmus and patellar reflex, artic and phonological disorders. At night. In my room. Waiting for the next time he needs me.
I live in an 18 hour per day time loop that is full of frustration and exhaustion and miracles.
I am determined that we will not survive this life. We will conquer it.
I show him how to live in this world and I watch over him and guard him and teach him 24 hours a day. Not because I am super human or paranoid or have nothing better to do. Not because I need to be needed. Not because this is the way I thought it would happen. Or because this is the way I planned my life.
I do it because I’m a Spectrum Mom.
And that’s what we do.