Archive - April 2013

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Spaces Between Us
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When the World is Small

Spaces Between Us

We are on our way to meet your dad and it is a trek. We’ve done all the prep: schedules and social stories for John and long talks about our feelings and careful treading through the what-ifs of divorce.

(“What if you see each other again and fall back in love? Those what-ifs, the ones that live large in your heart when you’re a child of eight, when your dreams are full of them. I know.)

You are excited.
And nervous too.

This morning you bound out of bed in your clothes, smiles on your sweet faces. It is easy getting out the door.

But on the way, John, you start to yell and I know something is not quite right. You ask for the bathroom so we head there and I am surprised when you pull me instead to a seat and hug me. I stroke your hair. “John, are you excited to see Daddy? Yes or no?” Yes, you say. “Are you sad too? Yes or no.” Yes.

I tell you I will call you and you can call me. “Yes or no?” Yes, you say.

We sit there for a time and then you softly sing, my for-so-long non-verbal boy, I love you, you love me, we’re best friends as friends can be… I stop breathing for a moment, listening to all that lives inside you come rise to the surface.

* * *

We say goodbye on the cold concrete. I hold your faces and kiss your cheeks, press each of you to my heart and say goodbye. I tell you to have a great time, I’ll see you next week.

And now?
You are there,
I am here.

My love for you lives in the spaces between us. It travels down Route 95 and knocks on your window. Are you awake too?

I am not me without you, I am this new me. We’re still getting to know each other.

When the World is Small

It’s World Autism Awareness Day, and it feels like I should blog. In our old life, we would have replaced the lights with blue bulbs and waved as the neighbors drove by: Light it up blue! I’m sure it made people more autism aware but did it make them more accepting?

In our new life, we live in the country and neighbors are few and far between. No one can see the soft blue emanating from our doors — just us and we are already quite aware. We’ve been out and about in our new world, and our new world is small — it’s safe to say that many people are now aware of us — we have a way of making an impression. They see that there is something about you two, something special, something different… different, not less.

Some people take a moment and ask. Like the woman who works at the grocery store, behind the deli. She saw you, John, when you dropped to the floor right there in front of her meat counter. Your protest was epic, alarming, coming from a boy your size. You desperately wanted the Paas Easter Egg dyeing kit and I said Absolutely not, because we already had several from earlier outings.

Mommy has to draw the line somewhere.

She had kind eyes and smiled when she said hello. And even though you couldn’t have cared less as you screamed from the floor (you REALLY wanted that Paas kit), I felt her wanting to know, wanting to understand how she could help, wanting to know you. I said, “He has trouble with disappointment.” She nodded.

She smiles every time we come in now.

And Sam, my all-too-aware boy. You want to push autism away and keep it buried. You called it your “deep dark secret” and I hurt for you to feel so, but I understand. In our old life you shared this part of yourself with friends and you were teased and made to feel less. In our new life you want to hide it,  you say you will not reveal it — and it is your choice, after all. It is your life, no matter how much I tell you that you are special, you are awesome, and autism is simply a part of that —neither good nor bad – because really in the end — it’s just a word. It doesn’t change your light, your amazing self. But you are learning that different sometimes feels like less and that is a travesty.

So on this day of Autism Awareness, all I have is this: differences should be celebrated. What makes us quirky should be admired not feared. Having autism makes you different, not less! My biggest challenge as your mom is getting you to see yourself the way I do, the way anyone who gets to know you sees you. You must learn that love and acceptance begin with you and that it will radiate out into the world.

No one ever said this motherhood gig would be easy and it’s even harder alone.

Awareness is good. Acceptance would be divine.

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