February 26, 2007 by Marj Hatzell
It sounds awful, I know. I am actually happy that Bugaboo is back in school today. I am even more overjoyed at the thought that despite the weather (which I personally do not feel is so bad, even looking at my street) there is no delayed opening and no snow day. I cringed at the thought of it last evening as the snorecasters changed their minds, from one inch to four inches to six inches to four again, and then, Oh yeah! We forgot to mention the ice, frozen rain, sleet, etc.
And to top it all off, Bugaboo had the audacity to start screaming at three am. I know he was in discomfort, he would thrash around, stick his feet in between my knees, place my hand on his heart (he loves to cuddle that way when he is ill) but just couldn’t get comfy. I know for a fact I forgot to give him some Motrin and his ear drops before bed, I just could not bring myself to get up and get him anything. Darling was kind enough to do it when he heard me pleading with Bugaboo to “please go to sleep! Mommy cannot hack this anymore after ten days!” He obliged once his Daddy got the holy grail (his sippy cup). And not just ANY cup, mind you. You know that many children with Bugaboo’s type of delays have to have THE cup and THE spoon and THE pair of shoes. I have learned to buy three of the same shirt or pairs of shoes in different sizes!
I had this crazy, fancy idea that since Bugaboo had ten days off, and I am a certified special education teacher, that I would spend the entire week sticking to a rigorous schedule and working his program (ha! WHAT PROGRAM!). I thought I would emphasize language, language, language. Mommy and Bugaboo would spend the entire day just reinforcing vocabulary. With Bugaboo’s school mate there for the week (his mommy is a High School teacher and a single mom with no one to watch him) I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get them interacting and working on relationships. What I did NOT plan for was his belly upsets, including four days straight of constipation and then his ears exploding to the point that his tubes would pop out and bleed!
We spent the entire week cuddling. We paced while he cried in pain. We heated up his bean bag (the one mommy uses for her sinus headaches) to place on his tummy and help with the gas. We went for rides when he was beyond soothing, since the car is one of the few things he loves at any time of the day. When he did feel up to playing he would crawl around pushing his buses or would devise ways to get outside when mommy was peeing (he is a MASTER at eloping at the most inconvenient times!). He did enjoy getting his snow and rain boots out, and all of our boots for that matter, and wore the around the house. He even wore them to bed most nights! I did managed to play with him and his pal a little and I took them for looooong daily walks around town. This was my only break from seven am to seven pm everyday. One lucky night I managed to go tutor (yes, I’ve started again, I am so glad I did) and go to choir practice all in one night! It was wonderful to work with a student again but it solidified my belief that once I can return to work (if!) that it will not be in a classroom. I will continue tutoring but cannot bring myself to teach in a classroom again. I do not think I can spend all day with children with autism and then come home to it, too. I have to take a break from it! I cannot let autism become our entire life. I want us to have a life and then have autism. Does that make sense?
The crazy thing is that as much as I enjoy being with children and I am proud of the fact that I worked my ample posterior off to get this degree, I now know my limitations. I cannot tell you how blessed I am to have the experiences that I have had. I love the fact that I chose to go back to school (after four majors and nine years) to finish my degree. I have always had babysitting or daycare jobs. I worked my way through college with tutoring work (and Darling’s support, we were married by then). I am the adult that always ends up watching everyone else’s kids at parties or sitting at the kid table. I just feel called to be with children. At at time in my life where I had NO IDEAS and NO DIRECTION, I was pointed at a school and drawn to work there. It was not for the money (ain’t much in this field) but for that feeling of accomplishment. The feeling that I was doing something important and that others counted on me to do my job the best was I could. I feel the same way about being the mother of my children.
Even though life has thrown me curves I know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Without getting all crazy-philosophical on y’all, I will tell you that it “just fits.” I cannot really explain it. I have never been more at ease or relaxed in my life. Now, yesterday I was getting Irish around these parts and had an entirely different post in mind. You know, the one where I complain about how weird my kids are and how much I hate it? I am glad I never got a chance to sit and write it, I am sure I would have deleted it today. It is not truly how I feel.
This is how I feel about our life, with or without autism:
- I am blessed by a wonderful, loving, supportive husband who puts our needs first (except when he wants to buy a car)
- I have two awesome and happy little boys who always know when to give their momma kisses!
- I am fortunate to live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and send my children to get schools where they get the services they both need
- I cannot tell you what a blessing it is to have such a supportive and loving family. Without our siblings and parents we would be lost. Our parents may have their annoying moments, but they truly love our children and support us the best way they can.
- I am one lucky woman to have everything I need and more. This is a difficult life to lead (read:stress!) but it is the only life I have and I try to live it to the full.
- I have a healthy, nearly-fit body (I will get back to the gym today after a two-week hiatus) that enables me to go through the physically punishing part of parenting children with ASDs. The meltdowns and tantrums are not easy to manage and keeping my body happy helps.
- I am fortunate to have many friends. Friends that will listen anytime I call them. Friends that don’t think I am a dolt for missing a coffee date that I helped plan because my son was up sceaming all night and my husband wanted to let me sleep because he knew I needed it more than a cup of joe! (if you can even fathom that concept!) Friends that call me and tell me when I am being an idiot. Friends who like me even though they’ve met me. Friends who read my blog and still like me.
Most of all I am overjoyed at the fact that I have a brain that can handle planning, paperwork, IEPs, therapies, appointments and day-to-day home life. I can get my house looking decent before school buses arrive. I can throw dinners together in minutes. I have routines that keep it from being too overwhelming. If I nag enough I can even get Darling to pack lunches (he slides once in a while). If someone is sick I manage to keep my house from going to heck in a hand basket. (Thank Flylady and motivated moms!)
When I become overwhelmed, Darling can sense it and heads it off by coming home early from work, taking the boys to HD or for a long ride, drawing a bath for me or just leaving me alone and getting them out of my hair. He will let me sit and play mindless arcade games online or crash on the couch and flip through my Discovery Health Shows or put up with me watching my beloved Extreme Makeover Home Edition. He knows I am addicted to caring about the plight of others and need to watch things and cry and get emotional (which I did, a few weeks ago there was a 60 minutes segment about autism, followed by a family on EMHE who have FIVE out of six children with autism, I was very emotional and hopeful after watching it!). He knows that sometimes I just need to turn into jelly and not move, speak or respond in anyway. I am going out on a limb here, but this may be part of the reason I met him and married him.
This week I have decided to dedicate to me. I haven’t had a haircut since October. My eyebrows are growing in and I need them reshaped. I haven’t colored my hair and the grey is showing BIG TIME. I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks because Bugaboo doesn’t exactly like the babysitting area (too loud) and Bug Boy kinda tolerates it. So, I have plans to eat well, exercise and sleep as much as humanly possible this week.It means sticking to a schedule and getting it done, but I will do it!
Life is good…