at the beginning of the summer i felt pretty heavy with worry. i knew a big routine shift was coming with the end of the school year and transition to summer school, and i spent about a month frantically trying to schedule everything to make sure our days would be full. i fought like hell to re-schedule my son’s aba therapy to accommodate his schedule and not lose his favorite therapist, i planned out each day so that things would move seamlessly in the least disruptive way for my son, but of course it didn’t move seamlessly. there were seams. there were rips and tears and holes and finally everything just sort of fell apart. phantom illnesses and reactions i never anticipated happened, and in the middle of all of it my son’s favorite therapist up and moved to southern california (news which the company that she works for failed to tell me until her last day).
when things fall apart i usually find it pretty impossible not to see the lesson in it. i feel like when things hit crisis level, it’s typically the universe shouting at me to pay attention to something. like, now. pretty early into the summer i sensed that something needed to give.
i had a conversation with my oldest friend this summer about walking on eggshells. both children of alcoholics, we spent our childhoods tip toeing around our parents’ moods, doing out best to not make any false moves and set them off. in turn, we both grew up and had babies that had colic. we both spent the first 4-5 months of our babies lives scrambling to keep them from flying into a crying rage (that often lasted for hours on end). we were talking about the cycle of our lives, how we spent out childhoods walking on eggshells and then had babies that made us keep walking on eggshells. and we both wondered how we break that cycle for our children. for ourselves.
my son having colic, and then being on the autism spectrum has left me feeling like i am walking on eggshells for most of his life. it also keeps me feeling like i constantly must do everything perfectly or things will fall apart, and inevitably they ALWAYS DO because there is no perfect anything. there’s no way to keep the world from hurling random snowballs at your head and no way to always duck just in time. and i cannot blame my son for this, because this is the way that i have lived my life for as long as i can recall. this has been my experience of life: you must struggle and sweat and agonize and strive for perfection, and when someone is not impressed or criticizes you or just doesn’t give a rip, it feels like utter and complete failure. and reaffirms all of the beliefs about how flawed i am that are in there mighty friggin’ deep.
so this summer i drove myself nuts trying to line it all up perfectly and it all went down in flames. and what happened is that i was left all alone with my son every day. just the two of us, as it was before all of the therapies and school started. and to my surprise i knew exactly what to do. i just had to be with him and love him more than anything in the world (because i do). and i found that once little things fell through over and over, i finally got to the point where i realized that none of it really mattered. not really. what matters is that i love my son no matter what happens. not much else matters.
what has continually astounded me about motherhood is here is this person who holds this mirror up to all of my deepest flaws and ISSUES and yet, the inclination to bolt isn’t there, not physically. you have to make the choice whether or not you are going to bolt emotionally. it forces me to be present in times where i would normally check out. and no matter how much he pushes my buttons, i still wake up every day honestly stoked and overjoyed to see his face. every day. and i love being the person that he looks at with shock when something hurts him or amazement and joy when something excites him.
what motherhood has taught me is that there’s nothing to do but be here. stepping back and letting things happen and being open to all of it: good and bad and pain in the ass, has made life so much sweeter. sometimes shit goes haywire, and my son has meltdowns, and sometimes he just has good old fashioned tantrums like a 3 year old does, and sometimes i can’t fix whatever is not going the way he wants. but lately i’ve been trying to let those moments happen without adding the stress of my shit on top of it. i’ve been trying to “pause” in those moments where i feel like a failure or like people are looking at me and judging me or whatever, and trying to connect with my son in those moments instead of shut down. i have been looking at my son in those moments and just loving him and wanting to help him get through it. and more than anything, i’ve been having faith that we will get through it. that the storm will pass. and we’re going to be ok.