Tag - change

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Fresh Start
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Traveling and Unraveling
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Beach Day
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Moving on
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Count Your Blessings
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Granite Days
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Contracts
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The River
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Slow Motion
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July 9: Oil Spills and Things

Fresh Start

Each day after I drop the boys off at their bus, I return home on a one-lane dirt road. The early morning sun chases me to this one spot where literally, I am unable to see and the light bleeds through the trees like a stain.

This lightness is heavy and it momentarily blinds me.

I keep my foot on the gas, and it’s only for five seconds but it’s five seconds of pure faith. Faith that if autismtwins.comI move slowly enough I will repeat yesterday’s safe journey home and avoid the calamity of the unexpected: a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle. he one with the barking Lab and a racing Land Rover). (Perhaps the neighbor, the one with the errant cows or t

Out here in the country this is not out of the question.

The light this time of year crackles and makes me feel slightly off-balance, like I’ve been missing something. If I knew what the something was I wouldn’t be missing it, but this is exactly how blogging has been for me. Missing it and dreading it and needing it. I’ve let so much of my life fly away with the wind, free and undocumented.

There is both so much and so little to say. I am still catching my breath. ♥

Traveling and Unraveling

Iam three-and-a-half weeks into a month without my boys. This is what happens when you are divorced: you are a child-less mother for periods of the year. Once, when I was going through the throes of my dying marriage I told an acquaintance about our separation. Used to stricken faces and sympathy, her response took me off guard. I think that would be the best of both worlds, she said. You’d have built-in time off.

(Huh. Not my first choice, but Word.)

Four weeks solo yawned with possibilities but it scared me too. My boys are my anchors — what would it be like to be unmoored? Travel and unravel by degrees I suppose, all necessary and good: my first vacation in 10 years! Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Chicago. Sunsets, sunrises, long walks alone interspersed with visits from friends. You figure things out, you get some clarity, you listen to the silence and hear echoes of yourself, a self you once knew. You try to sleep past 6 a.m. but fail each day, your body has memorized the routine whether they are here or not. You whisper good morning to the air and to the fur-monster sitting on your pillow waiting to be fed. (He misses them too).

This is not the way it’s supposed to be, of course, this month alone without kids. The flip side: I solo parent the other 11 months, weekends included — fair trade? My boys would say not. This is not the way it was supposed to be but it’s the way it is.

“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.” —Joss Whedon

I do love that Joss. The moments, dear god, the moments. Good thing they come in all sizes and that my favorite moments will be home soon.

Beach Day

We are excited, we are nervous. We are headed to the beach with the entire 3rd grade. How lucky that field trips here are decidedly un-school-like. It is easy to be with you, even though you are antsy and talking non-stop.

You are anxious. Truth? Me too.

IMG_bday2We are finding our way. We’re from the land of Target and neighborhood pools and McDonald’s happy meals. What do we know of crabbing and swimming in icy waters, where kids are born running barefoot over rocks and chowda is better than oatmeal.

What do we know of living with less, with breathing in the salt and sea? Of feeling less, yes, but here the less is bountiful and filling — like a song. Well, we know not, but we sing and are better for it each day.

A friend reminded me today: I left a village behind. Every kid needs one, every mom too. It is hard to be a single mom without a village. Well, we start anew.

You make friends, you falter. I do too. We are compatriots, buddy, singing the same tune.

One day you’ll look up and there it will be: you are a child running to something instead of away.

Love, Mommy

Moving on

Tonight cackles with the past. I walk through these rooms, this house, this shell and remember bathing you side by side in the pink bathtub, rumpling your hair with towels of stripes and frogs. Back then you slept at the other end of the house in beds under tents, the end where the fire broke out four years ago tonight. Such sweet little boys (of course you still are!), but you were only three then. I remember how you piled onto my lap to read a goodnight story, your hair soft and wet — your father on one side, me on another.

We love you if not each other.

I kiss you both goodnight and tell you how very proud I am of you, how independent you’ve both become. Sam, you see my face and say, “Does it make you sad too?” and I tell you that indeed it does, but that it’s happy-sad, a mix.

I realize, with a start, that this is it exactly. “Do you know how much Mommy loves you?I say. [THIS big, as big as the universe…?] you answer with a question. “Even bigger,” I reply and you laugh.

Later I watch you sleep, your faces pressed into pillows, almost eight. I know it’s pointless to ask, but how did time creep up on us like this? The things this shell could share if sharing were possible. Here we are then, a family of three roaming rooms on our way to somewhere new. I am haunted by the memory of who you were, who I was. This shell, this shell that is no longer a home, has many secrets to tell but I’m no longer interested in the telling, just the moving on. 

Of course in the moving on, there is the telling.

Count Your Blessings

I’m not sure when I stopped paying attention to what was playing on the radio — no, that’s not true. I stopped once I had kids and was more concerned with what dangers lurk outside — as if I monitored it all, I could keep my boys safe. NPR, news stations, weather and traffic updates.

I’ve started listening to music again. Adele? Love her. How did I live without her?

Throw your soul through every open door
Count your blessings to find what you look for
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold
You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow.
—”Rolling Back the Deep”

I think the toughest thing I’ve faced as a mother was John’s heart surgery when he was a baby. And although autism has been a rocky ride? It is this holiday season that takes second place. Count your blessings, and I do. I must. I’m so grateful for family and friends who swoop down and envelop me with love, and for each of you who reads — thank you.

Granite Days

I feel my way through the days, I am parting sheets of granite with my bare hands. Sometimes the effort it takes feels both herculean and insufficient. Everywhere I look there are things to be done, things to look at. I feel my power surge and fall and with it my ability to sleep. But I am strong. I feel this as an absolute. It can be no other way.

My children show me this every day.

A little boy who has always insisted others draw for him, whose grasp on a crayon or a marker has always been hesitant and weak — this boy has accomplished the herculean. Drawing by himself. Sometimes with prompts but more and more often self-motivated. Finding his power, his ability, his strength.

Contracts

We are a household of contracts — some sacred, some broken. I love you is one. The day you marry, they are binding and loud and carry the punch of possibility. Eventually I love you rolls off your tongue like a habit, Working late. Sorry. Love you. Old and familiar meant to quiet and reassure. You hear I love you and think He loves me, not He loves someone else.

But you should be listening to the subtext. You should be on high alert and why is it you have not been on high alert? Oh, trust? Yeah. Well.

I think I love you is overused.

It is different when it comes to my children. My I love you for them is a song my entire being knows by heart. I love you is not a habit or a manipulation or a ruse. My I love you is my compass, my truth.

Sam has his own ideas about contracts. I’m not clear on how or why he organized his thoughts under the heading of a “contract,” and am only slightly concerned that under traits for John he came up with “tormented.”

(When asked what he means, he explains, “You know, when I torment him?” Yes, of course. Terrific.).

I ask him, “And what else is here under John? ARTISTIC? Did you mean AUTISTIC? and he sighs and says, “No, Mom. I mean ARTISTIC, that’s what it says.” Well, I guess it does.

Sometimes, we say what we mean and mean what we say. I don’t know what to do, though, when words are the places we hide behind.

 

The River

The thing about feelings is this: they either rush through us like a river and empty out of us or they course around and meet a wall — a wall we build when it’s not safe to let it out. The boys rush to me in the mornings and each curls into a side. I feel like a bird, plump with wings made just for this. Their eyes are crusty with sleep and they yawn and burrow. They are so tall now, all gawky hard angles.

“Mom?” he says, “what’s on tap for today?” For Sam, schedules are still paramount. He likes to plot it all out — which is why weekends, with chunks of time to fill, can be problematic. We talk about how it’s Monday (hooray!) and he has a regular day at school and media — his favorite. We talk about what types of books he will check out (we’re back to extreme weather and the world atlas). We outline his schedule (first morning meeting, then math, then reading…).

Then he says, “I love you Mom.” I love you too buddy! I say as brightly as possible because in an instant the river has rushed up behind my eyes. The wall is close to coming down. John is still quiet, his arms circle me from the other side. He listens to us and then says “Go to school?” We get up and begin the morning routine and I’m all super-efficient Mommy making breakfast, packing lunches, getting clothes. As long as they are okay, I’m okay.

Slow Motion

Three weeks ago my life imploded and ever since it feels like I’ve been moving in slow motion. I think this is what happens when your life shifts — and mine is definitely shifting — your vision is crisp, the blinders are off. So many things are clear right now, here’s one…

…John’s brilliant light.

This boy’s light is dazzling. I’ve always known he was special, but god is he smart. So smart. His teacher reports that he is close to one of his classmates, a little girl. When other children cry he claps his hands over his ears, but when M. cries, he goes over to her, puts an arm around her shoulder and says, “S’okay Mo-mo.” I kneel down in front of him and ask him whether he would like orange juice or apple juice and his eyes, god his eyes, look me straight in the eye when he answers, “Orange juice?” I catch my breath.

Small things to other families, incredible for mine. Empathy, expressiveness, comprehension. This is what else I see…

…Sam’s tenderness, his heart.

He worries about everyone and wants to name feelings. I try to give him kid-size words for adult problems. I tell him he is a kid and the grownups will fix the grownup problems. I tell him that everything will be fine, that he is loved, so loved. This is a boy who studied Thomas the Tank Engine videos for clues on facial expressions, and who could probably lead his own social skills group. He says, “I love you so much, Mom.”

July 9: Oil Spills and Things

On the last day of school I found out that John’s teacher is not returning next year. Nor are three out of four para educators. If I hadn’t surprised his teaching staff with an end-of-the-year visit to bestow gifts, I believe I’d still be in the dark.

This information sits in my chest, heavy, the way the oil spill in the Gulf does. Since the spill happened, I can’t read about the cleanup because it makes me physically ill — so much destroyed, all of that innocent wildlife, the tragedy of it — and me here, helpless.

While poolside, Fall seems far away. But it will be here before we know it, and it’s as if I must make myself read about the oil spill and the cleanup efforts every day. Twins dad would say it’s because if I’m not worrying, then by golly, I should find something!

The autism program is growing. Four new programs will open up in schools next year and John’s teaching staff has been tapped to open one of them — lucky for them! But who will take their place? It could be a phenomenal teacher, one with enthusiasm and ideas and love for what she does. New paras could be hired, ones who actually know something about autism…or not.

What happens to their argument that John would be best-served by staying one more year where he is, not the least of which was supposed to be the continuity of the teaching staff? The argument that he wasn’t quite ready for the less-restrictive program we toured, and being such a young five, would only benefit from staying in the smaller, one-on-one program to bolster his skills.

Except, except… the day I surprised his classroom with my visit, the day I heard this news, I was saddened with what I saw: a young girl in a corner screaming and banging her head. A boy hitting a table over and over with a block. Three children sitting in front of their teacher for circle time, uninterested. John next to them, hands clamped over his ears in real distress.

All I could think was, This is what John’s day looks like? This is what’s best for him? What kind of learning could possibly take place in this setting?

We have been enjoying this summer in a way that was not possible before. Maybe they were too young and I was too scared to venture out very often. There is a measure of independence that Sam, especially, has gained which has opened up my world and lets me relax, focus more on the moment. The days have a lovely, lazy quality even though there’s camp and routine around that. We go to the pool every afternoon and lie around in the sun, happy to have no cares other than what’s for dinner. Except I walk in the door and there’s today’s newspaper with the heart-rending job of rescuing pelicans and god, I feel it again in the pit of my stomach.

I think I need to call an IEP meeting for August. I can’t avoid it much longer. Would you?

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