Picture this: I am sitting in the middle of the boys’ room at 4 a.m. sobbing. Yes, both boys are also quite upset, but it’s now been three hours of this crap and I am tired, so tired. And really, all that is left is either to run screaming from the house or cry.
When I was in my early twenties, I had — like many a 20-something — a crisis of identity. Who was I now that I lived on my own? Who did I want to be? Why was I so sad all the time? What did the future hold? Well nearly four years of therapy later, I felt much better: living will do that to you. By the time I was in my thirties, I had my feet firmly in a career, my own apartment, my own life. I liked who I was and, more importantly, I knew who I was. I felt comfortable in my own skin which only made things easier when I married a man who felt similarly comfy.
I thought about this last night as I tried every tactic I could think of to get first John, and then Sam back to sleep. I thought of the woman I used to be and wondered what had happened to her skin — why did it feel so foreign, so unfamiliar? Why did it feel like I was watching myself from above? Why do I feel so disconnected? Could I possibly be having another identity crisis?
This morning I realized, with the clarity that can only come after going 24 hours without sleep, that I need new skin. I need a tough new skin, one that will see me through this transformation into an Autism Mom I can feel good about. Because, really — I am so not there. I am mad at Autism all the time. Right now, it is not some quirky cute thing that makes me smile. It’s not just “who my boys are.” It is what prevents John from looking at me, it is what makes him jabber to his hands and not hear the rest of us. It is the loud shouting he’s doing at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., wearing down my very last nerve.
And yet? And yet. There are moments, rare moments, when John will come up to me and hold my eyes like he’s seeing me for the first time…the smile that spreads across his face is like sunshine on new-fallen snow. I could burst from hope. And the joy with which Sam wakes spelling: “C-A-T. CAT! B-U-S. BUS!” The funny turns of phrase he’s started with, the fact that he’s actually reading, and I think, Yes, we’re going to be okay. I can do this.
I’m growing my new skin.