Being the mom of kids with autism often feels like one of those cartoons in which someone is walking along (often whistling) and unsuspectingly drops through a trap door into a pit of crocodiles. (What exactly did my parents let me watch anyway?) The trap door is any random hiccup in the child’s progress or therapy, and the pit of crocodiles is sadness, anxiety, and the feeling that things will never get better.
I fell through a trap door today. And the crocodiles are winning.
The morning started off pretty well, other than the fact that it came far too soon. But it all went sideways somewhere around breakfast. Getting out the door became an impossible task, and autism was winning. The details of what went wrong today aren’t important, because it could be anything that triggers the trap door.
Today I fought back tears in the hallway of the school, and came home to numb the feelings with those oh-so-delicious mind-soothing carb drugs disguised as a bagel. Normally I am able to pick myself up and move on with my day after a brief breakfast pity party, but today was different. Nerdguy and I started to talk about what is and isn’t working. About the meds being crap, but the behavioural therapy not being much better in terms of its effectiveness for our daughter. Options were laid out. Pros and cons presented. Costs considered.
Nothing felt okay.
First there were the tears.
And then there was the numb.
The quicksand feeling came next. My God do I hate the quicksand. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything today, because when I did it felt like I was wading through sludge just to walk two steps. And what was the point of doing anything anyway? So I gave up. I watched TV all afternoon. The ironic thing was that it was First Position – a documentary about kids working their butts off to achieve their dreams of becoming ballerinas. They had disappointment, injuries, and the odds stacked against them and it just motivated them to try harder. They weren’t wallowing in their recliner in the middle of the day like me.
I felt even worse.
Then it was time to get the kids. And I was still sad. But I hugged and kissed the kids. I pushed myself to make dinner and sign agendas. And I slowly felt myself feeling a little better.
I think I spend a lot of time just trying to deal with one day at a time when it comes to the kids. Thinking too far into the future is too scary, and when someone pokes at the bubble and it bursts, things get messy. It’s like how we used to talk about breaking the seal – giving in and going pee at the bar after several hours, and after that point you will have to pee approximately every 10 minutes. Break the sadness seal by dwelling on the challenges of autism and you’ll be more likely to cry about every aspect of it after that. Don’t break the seal.
Or maybe it’s just me.
I have mixed way too many metaphors with trap doors, crocodiles, bubbles and urine, so I’m going to call it a night and hope tomorrow is a better day.