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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sometimes, you do have to cry

I've been working at starting seedlings inside a lot this spring.  It's been a mixed bag of successes and not.  I started everything too early, and the spring has been very cold, but everything was getting too big for the starter pots and too leggy to live, so I had to put a lot of things outside before they were ready, and they are not doing well....and I could go on and on.  All this is said as background information for yesterday and my big cry.

Janey came home from school in her typical after school no talking mode.  We have worked out what she likes to do, and it doesn't need a lot of words---a little cuddle, then a lot of cheese and onions, then some videos, then usually a shower.  We did that routine, and I put a dress on her to be ready for the next part of her evening routine---a car ride with Tony when he gets home.

Not my actual seedlings, but very similar ones!
Then I made my big mistake---a quick check of my email.  Janey was happy, in the next room, watching a video.  I got an exciting email from William, the older of Janey's two brothers, saying he had been nominated for a history honor society, kind of like Phi Beta Kappa for history majors and historians.  I was very proud of him, and wrote a quick email back to say so, and then started to forward his letter to his grandparents.  Janey came over at that moment, and I noticed her dress, previously clean, was covered with dirt.  I ran over and saw she had somehow, in the literally three to four minutes I hadn't been actively watching her, played around with some pepper seedlings I had been planning on planting outside that afternoon later.  They were all over the floor, dirt was everywhere and a spring's worth of growing them was going to be for naught.  It was actually pretty impressive how much she did in so little time.

I stayed calm.  I didn't even feel like being angry---I don't get angry that often.  And at first, I didn't even feel that upset.  But as I started to clean up the table, floor and Janey, I started to cry.  I couldn't stop, once I started.  I had been feeling low for a few days, and it all hit me hard right then---that still, after all these years, it was still impossible to have a few minutes to myself, how it felt unfair to William and to Freddy how rarely I could concentrate just on them, how I couldn't see any end in sight to the tough parts of life with Janey.

As I tried to clean, she decided she wanted a video.  I told her I had to clean up first.  She didn't take that well, and started screaming and arm biting.  I kept cleaning, and kept crying.  When she saw I was crying, she gave me a curious look, but then went back to screaming "I WANT KIPPER!"  In that moment, I felt totally defeated.  I felt like I can do all I can to keep Janey happy, and still, the minute I can't do what she wants that second, she's furious.  She doesn't think "Gee, she's been doing what I wanted all afternoon, and in fact for years, really.  I made a huge mess and she's cleaning it.  I could lay off her for a minute"  Of course she doesn't think that.  It's not in her to think it, and when I am not in a state, I can accept that.  But as the vacuum jammed and the floor became more covered with wet dirt and dead seedlings, I wasn't thinking well.

Life with Janey isn't easy.  I know here I'm supposed to say life with any child isn't always easy, that the special rewards of being her mother make up for the tough times, that it's not a child's role to make the life of their parents easy---I know all that, and I believe all that.  But there's a difference here. Although she makes some progress in some ways, although as I wrote about recently, her stages like the mischief stage do eventually get better, Janey isn't ever going to really grow up.  There isn't going to be a day when she truly understands that I'm doing the best I can, that maybe she could wait five minutes for a video while I clean up, that she shouldn't toss dirt on the ground, that I have feelings too.

I've regrouped today.  I'm ready to get back out there, to do my level best to help Janey have a good life, to try to be the mother I want to be.  But I am pretty sure each of you knows the feeling behind the tears yesterday.  If we don't admit it's tough sometimes, it's a very lonely kind of sadness.  We have to be able to admit this isn't an easy gig, being a parent of a child like Janey.  I am going to resist for now the urge to modify that statement, and just let it stand, for now, for once.  It's not easy.


pianorox said...

You do not have to apologize for being honest. I would much rather admire you and your reality than get irritated with those autism moms who sugarcoat things and come across as holier than thou in the autism acceptance movement. You are a rock star!

Sabrina Steyling said...

It takes courage to admit that things aren't easy, no matter how much you love Janey. I applaud you for being honest - with us, your blog readers, and to yourself. To echo what pianorox said, you really DO rock!