There is nothing worse than feeling frustrated with situations that fall completely out of your grasp. Recently I found out my baby boy is autistic. We had to meet a bunch of specialists and fill out these questions about him. I’ve been in the preschool teaching game for over a decade and seven of those years with kids three and under. I know the signs as a teacher. You notice things a child does differently than the others. And I did notice with him. But boys do things at a different speed then girls. So I wasn’t worried. Not really. Well, maybe a little. A lot of the signs of children on the spectrum can also be seen as typical behaviors. Like categorizing toys by size and color. Repeating certain words and not being clear with them. I knew what bothered my son and what didn’t. It would be fine going forward right? Then I started reading pamphlets and websites and began to worry more. It’s like when you have a small ache that hasn’t gone away for a while and you go on Dr. Google and see what it could be. Suddenly after ten minutes of research, you find out you’re dying of some rare disease that only .5% of people ever got in the history of Earth. These sites began talking about the signs and then I am reading about if he needs adult care and how to live with your autistic child forever. I imagined him at fifty and us barely moving thanks to our barely functioning bodies. How could I care for my grown son when my own shit was a struggle to live with? What happens when I’m sick and he needs me? I am already crawling half the day from my endo.
I am in full panic mode after reading this stuff. We don’t know yet what level (if that’s how they measure) he is. I don’t know if he will do well in school all day. I sit with him now, his pale cheeks spotted with bits of dried muffin and he is happy. He is watching videos about dinosaurs and he is naming them all along with colors and shapes, numbers and animals. He loves other kids and he hugs us and yells out “family hugs!” He jumps with excitement when he sees his older sister and they play legos together. I see him as just GG, my middle baby and happy boy. What if some asshole kid with his yellow-toothed punk friends picks on him? What if he hates himself because he is “different”? What if some shitty teacher targets him and flunks him all the time because he learns differently than other kids? My husband and I sometimes dread these scenarios that, of course, have never happened yet. But my mind is on its own, creating this world that may never occur. And I’ve been a parent for a while now and a teacher for a long time. I know this is just how our minds work. All I want to do is protect my kids from anyone who will ever do them harm. I can only wait which sucks 100%. Until then I can watch him enjoy his little life, his love of snuggles and dinosaurs and hope everything will work out.
Lately I feel swallowed up by life. It keeps overwhelming me and there isn’t anything I can really do for it. Well I CAN but sometimes I just need to be grumpy. Don’t we all? I can be mopey and reserve my pity party of one. And sometimes I do. People who once supported me in my endeavors have faded away. And while I find myself sad by it, I have to realize I myself am the only who who can persevere through it. How? I honestly have no clue. The hands I held for security are gone. So I must hold my own. When you are stuck in a rut you may find yourself looking around for someone else to toss in that life jacket. I am slowly learning I have to learn how to swim. If you are lucky enough to find your saving grace you grab hold.
There are soooo many ways people tell you to hold your own. Don’t feel sad. Don’t be so upset. Cheer up. But while you flounder during your path to find yourself there are things you can do to cheer yourself up. For one, I read. Escaping in someone else’s world even for a while can help you push some of that negative crap away.
Take a drive. I find a neighborhood with those great old Victorian homes and I gawk. The architecture, the history…it is all.amazing to me. But don’t gawk too much. You don’t need to explain to the cops you’re just staring at people’s home. Akward.
Binge watch something. Sometimes you need to shut your mind off. Recommendation? My new Netflix fav “Nailed It!”
Arts and crafts. So what if you hot glue your fingers together? Go find your inner Martha and make something amazing. Or something awful. Just make something. Go to the dollar store and let go.
Bubble bath. Bath bombs are amazing. They are fizzy. They smell great. What’s not to love?
Cook. I recently baked banana bread. Grab a subscription (I love Blue Apron) and cook something. It occupies your time and you create a gourmet meal that’s insta worthy
Don’t count on other people to make you happy. It’s not cynicism. Ok maybe a bit. But YOU count too. It is OK to be a little self absorbed once in while especially when you find yourself stretched thin with work, the kids, and all those other responsibilities. Distract yourself in a good way. There is nothing wrong making yourself happy.
There are few things in this world that can scare a parent( besides the obvious of our child being injured in some horrible way). We have seen what seems to be a lifetime of projectile bodily fluids in directions we didn’t know existed and landing into crevices we also never knew existed. We have seen tantrums that range from the obvious (Mom I have been up for 17 hours straight and only ate 3 animal crackers, I am cranky) to the obnoxiously ridiculous (I AM SCREAMING IN THE STORE BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN UP FOR 17 HOURS AND ALL YOU GAVE ME WAS THREE STUPID CRACKERS, YOU MONSTER!) But there is nothing NOTHING more frightening than having a car jam packed with kids who are screaming while you are stuck in the carpool line watching that parent (You Know Who They Are)cutting off everybody else, or watching Susan stand and talk to her friend in the road. Or waiting for Susan’s two other children Aloe Vera and Bernice fall and smack their heads because no one is watching them climbing the flag pole. Get your shit together Susan.
So anyway my daughter’s school expanded two more grades. I couldn’t help but think how great it was. 1 min from my car and 4 minutes to walk. Either way if I was running late I could just get there in a matter of minutes. Two more years of this bliss. This is a mom’s dream- my kid can run late BUT still be early. I was so happy. Then I got into the longest pool line on Earth.
IS THIS SHIT FOR REAL?
Where we live, the town is separated into the hills and the flats. We live in the hills area, 2 min away from the Main Street and all those adorable shops and restaurants. However, the street I must sit on if I am running late to get my daughter is on a hill. Like a San Francisco hill. My car is on such a steep angle that last year my car stalled. I had gas but ALL of it pooled to the front and my car stalled on the hill. I’m pumping the breaks and when they fail I grabbed the emergency break. I’m flailing my arms on this 45 degree angle. My son falls asleep in the car and his head just flops so far down he is snoring and choking on his own chin and spit.
I shut my car off so I don’t waste the gas therefore my car doesn’t stall. But now I am stuck where I am falling into the steering wheel and sweating because it’s not just hot, it’s pea soup hot. I look ahead and I see the healthy yoga moms who walked with not a drop of sweat on their brow talking. The tired moms who flipped their fingers off to their closet standing there in their pjs and slippers, and of course there’s Susan with her children halfway up the side of the building. Then you have the crossing guards who have no idea which direction anyone is coming in even though it’s a one way street. Then everyone freezes because they see a cop. He looks around and then leaves. THE CAR POOL LINE IS SO BAD THE OFFICER OF THE LAW BOLTS. The baby starts to cry and I throw my short arm back to soothe her which in reality is just a Stumpy arm flapping about the air because I can’t reach her. By this point the kids are lining up outside and I have completely hyper-extended my elbow. Finally it’s my turn and I pull up to the front. All the teachers are on radios which is completely new this year. They look at the name of the tag on my car and start calling for my eldest. I hear the name Emma being called out “Emma!” “Emma?” Emma!!” I jump out of the car as she is escorted out of the doors. She smiles and walks over. The walk between the front doors and my car seemed as if my daughter had been carrying around a golden ring she needed to throw in a pit of fire. What the hell was taking so long??
“Hi mo-” I proceeded to rip her backpack off and throw it into the front seat and yelling at her “go go go go!” I buckled her in and finally sped off. The air I am gulping could never satisfy the feeling of utter exacerbation I felt. I didn’t know if I needed 3 excedrins or a bunch of Xanax. I pulled up at home and got the kids situated inside. I finally flopped down on the couch only to realize I had to go through this fresh hell again twice tomorrow.
Bring it on, Susan