Aren't you sleepy?
I haven't slept.
When my son, Norrin, was diagnosed with Autism at 2 ½ years old, I felt like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole. Suddenly I was in a new world, one I didn’t understand; a world that fascinated and frightened me. Every day is a puzzle waiting to be solved; every day there is inspiration; every day a new wonder is revealed. AutismWonderland chronicles our journey.
There are moments when the pressure, fear, frustration and anxiety of being a parent become so overwhelming and so daunting that a meltdown, at some point, is inevitable. That is how I felt last Friday. I came home from work, threw myself on the sofa, I put my head in my hands and cried - loudly. It was the kind of cry that takes over your entire body, my shoulders shook, my head hurt and my chest ached. I kept wiping away my tears with both hands but the tears continued to spill out from my eyes. And I felt as small and as helpless as Alice, drowning in the pool of tears.
I had spent the last week researching schools for next year, toured two schools (one of them featured a padded room). I questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing by Norrin. And I couldn't help but wonder if there was a place for him...and would I be able to find it?
And then in the middle of my hysterical sloppy meltdown, Norrin walked in the room. His eyebrows furrowed and he looked at me with genuine concern and confusion. He put his hands on my face and said, "Do not be afraid Mommy," and gave me a kiss. Of course, this made me cry even more. In addition to everything I had been feeling, now I had guilt; I hated for Norrin to see me cry. Norrin then jumped off the sofa and ran away. He returned with a single square of toilet paper and dried my tears.
I've read numerous reports on Norrin where someone has noted on his inability to relate. But in my moment of sadness, he related to me - in the sweetest and most appropriate way. I knew that I could not be afraid, because I could not fail him. And it was a comfort to know that as much as I am willing to fight for him and protect him - Norrin was willing to do the same for me.
from the archives of AutismWonderland (10/10/10)
It's the last weekend before kindergarten begins. And nervous is a complete understatement. I am scared. Worried. Anxious. Excited. I've been feeling all of these things all summer long but I will be honest. I haven't looked at his IEP since our last meeting in June. After that meeting, I put it away and took a time out from special needs. And since The Boy's last day of SEIT/related services, I haven't done anything truly constructive with him.
As I lay in his bed last night/early this morning, with one eye open I heard him playing. Pretend playing, using his imagination, creating a dialogue. And then he's standing beside me, singing "If you're happy and you know it..." He sang the whole song. Clapping his hands. Stomping his feet. Saying "hooray."
And even at 4 am, in my sleep deprived state, I appreciate it.
(published on 8/ 9/2011 http://www.autismwonderland.com)
(previously posted on July 25, 2011 on AutismWonderland - http://www.autismwonderland.com/2011/07/three-words-i-dont-often-hear.html)
I don't hear the words "I love you" from The Boy very often. I prompt him to say many things. But those three words? Never. I don't want them to be forced, I don't want them to sound rote. I want him to say it when he means it.
Every night when putting him to bed, after kissing him goodnight, after reading him a story and kissing him goodnight again, I tell The Boy that I love him. I usually repeat it. Holding his face with both hands so that he can see my face and hopefully look me in the eye. Sometimes he repeats it. Sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he gives me a kiss and asks me to "go away" because he wants "Daddy to read another story." Sometimes he skips the kiss.
I can count the times since he's started really talking in the last two years that he's said "I love you" spontaneously.
Last winter, at around 6 am on a weekday morning. I was calling out sick for work because I had been up with him all night nursing his fever. He was in our bed, barely awake, his cheeks flushed red. I pressed a cold washcloth on his forehead. I smiled at him. At how calm and still he was. A small part of me likes when he's sick. Every mother likes to be needed. And I savor the moments when The Boy is calm and still and lets me stroke his hair or sits beside me while I read a story. He pushed the washcloth away. His eyes were starting to close and right before he fell asleep, he whispered "I love you."
Three weeks ago, Sunday I was sitting (w-sitting actually) on The Boy's bed reading a story. The Boy dropped a toy behind the bed and wanted me to get it. Major klutz that I am, scooted back (still in w-sitting position) to get up. Instead I fell backward on the floor, flat on my backside. I screamed out in pain and The Husband hurried in to help me up. The Boy, seeing me pain, started to cry. With real tears and I had to get up to console him and reassure him I was okay. He put his arms around me, buried his wet face in my neck and sobbed "I love you."
This morning, The Boy and I are standing waiting for the school bus. And he's having a hard time standing still. I'm trying to make conversation. But The Boy is busy watching the pidgeons. He suddenly throws his arms around me and asks for a hug. I gave him a squeeze. And then he said, "I love you Mama." So sweetly and so appropriately as if he just made the connection between the action and verbal expression. Maybe he did. I picked up The Boy (no easy task since he's about 52 lbs) and squeezed him again. Kissed him on his cheeks about twenty times before putting him back down. I tell him I love him too.
As the bus pulled up, I kissed him again, handed him his bookbag and said goodbye. He got on the bus without looking back and without saying goodbye.
So many parents take those three words for granted. Some parents, wrapped up in their own chaotic day to day, ignore these declarations of love. Me? I have to cherish each and every time because I'll never know when, where or why I'll hear them next.