I’m finding Maggie’s behaviours difficult to manage today. Well, every day, but some days I am better at living in denial than others. But today, autism is winning. Today the urge to fish out my passport and find somewhere completely quiet to hide for awhile is much stronger than the urge to pretend everything is okay. So in an effort to distract myself from booking a one-way ticket to a dark cave with air conditioning and coffee, I am writing.
I don’t like to write this stuff down. It feels like a betrayal to Maggie. I will talk about it to other people out loud, but something about writing it down feels like I should be turning in my mother card because I don’t deserve this sweet girl. Because for all of the mischief she has gotten into today, she has also cuddled, and giggled, and used her words. She has sat at the kitchen table voluntarily twice today, which is unheard of. For all of these things I know just how lucky I am to have her as my daughter, today, and all of the days.
But to pretend that it is all belly laughs and progress is also a betrayal to the other mothers who are struggling. Autism mamas need to help each other out, and it’s when times are the darkest that we need to lean on our sisters. Not only for advice and to know that things may get better (I say may because, honestly, I just don’t even know anymore), but also to see that the crappy days don’t mean we are crappy moms. Seeing that we all have crappy days is a little bit of reassurance that we’re not doing this wrong.
I find it really hard to get anything done with Maggie home, and if I try to clean, cook, work, relax, or even blink, I usually pay for it later. But the reality is that a lot of these things have to happen, so I am usually paying for it. Today she emptied the better part of two cans of air freshener into the house before I realized what the ssshhhh sound was. She has never touched them before but today decided that the entire house wasn’t apple-y enough for the impending fall season.
The second time I think I was high on fumes from the first time and actually believed she was going to the bathroom. It would make sense since she has decided that “Got Milk?” is more of a dare than a question. We could have a barn full of cows in our yard and I’m confident they would look like week-old deflated birthday balloons with the amount of milk she has attempted to drink. And spill. I cried quite a bit over spilled milk as a child, as I was clumsy and my mother was neurotic when it came to dairy and the crack between the table and the table leaf. Now I am filling dual roles of the crier and and the yeller. Whoever coined the phrase, “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” was either crying over spilt vodka instead or lived in a vegan household where the phrase “Don’t cry on your unicorn,” could have easily been substituted.
I attempted to air out the upstairs bathroom while my eldest child, the one who protested our “unscented” soap for being “too stinky,” gagged and looked prepared to call social services for unfit living conditions. We keep our windows double-locked at all times because Maggie likes to try to throw things out of them, herself included. I was considering opening the bathroom window just this once and guarding the room, until I realized the screen is one of the things she has thrown away. I decided that apple-scented tear gas was a preferable alternative to having a family of fruit bats mistaking the bathroom for a nightclub or flying rodent spa.
Speaking of rodents, earlier today Maggie decided to share her breakfast with our pet rats. Normally she wants nothing to do with them, so that was a surprise. Molly stopped her because she has the rats on a strict diet. I’m not sure if they’re Paleo or what, but I tell you there is nothing more humbling than being lectured on nutrition by your tween. Unfortunately when Molly was reading us the riot act she neglected to cover portion control, because the second we turned our backs, Maggie dumped a huge container of cheerios into their cage. It was like when the piñata busts open at a toddler birthday party, but with more screaming and a twelve-year-old party pooper.
These are just a few of the examples of the things she got into today. It sounds petty and like it was not a big deal, but the problem is that it is constant. While I’m cleaning up one thing she is off destroying something else. Like flushing all of her palace pets down the toilet an hour after getting home from the store. It’s impossible to get ahead of it, and the whole family lives in this perpetual state of fight or flight. Let’s just say that the dead mouse we found in the middle of our driveway was the highlight of the day…followed by the neighbour with rage issues who deliberately sprayed water onto our electric lawn mower.
Well thanks for listening. I feel a bit better. That may also be because everyone is in bed. Which is where I am heading, instead of the airport. Now the only question is, can I safely wear my CPAP mask or is it better to roll the dice on sleep apnea in case the mask sucks in the air freshener and makes it into some kind of gas chamber? Just a hunch, but I don’t think that’s a normal thing most people have to worry about before they go to bed is it?