Early this evening I crumbled into bed, fully exhausted. Why is it so hard? I repeated over and over, slowly shaking my head from left to right in reluctant confusion. I cried myself into a bucket of tears and felt an isolating ache inside.
It's so hard because it's just so hard. It just is. I'm so intensely invested I don't know how not to be. I scavenged through the growing pile of books on my nightstand and stopped when I got to the smooth red copy of Glitter and Glue. I instantly turned to page 81, knowing exactly where to find the words to bring me home. The author, Kelly Corrigan is discussing her love and growing protection for the little girl she nannied... For better or worse, I've latched on to Milly's ecosystem. What happens to her happens- in some weird refracted way that seems slightly dangerous- to me too. And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn't because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.
And that's EXACTLY why it's so hard, I remembered. Feelings. My greatest gift which sometimes feels like a curse. And those simple and beautiful words connected me to the world again. At times I'm so emotionally involved in parenting I am overdrawn. And that's the only way I roll- intensely. Sometimes I hate those parts of me. The raw parts that make me feel so unbearably much. I have to learn how to walk right up to that line of absolute engagement but not cross it. Teetering on the edge of engaged but preserved. Everything after that line is what brings me undone.
I don't write every time this feeling of absolute profound overwhelming takes over. I don't avoid it- I just give birth to whatever words are standing on the diving board ready to jump. The words that are scratching to get out. Tonight these needed a home. Author of Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg urges all of us writers to write without editing. She writes about the importance of first thoughts- the thoughts we feel for a fraction of a second and then talk ourselves out of. We are conditioned to censor ourselves, and as a byproduct we live in the realm of second and third thoughts. We need to capture those first thoughts- where you actually write what you see and feel- not what we think our mind is supposed to think and supposed to feel. So tonight I started to write the painful parts, with Goldberg's words in mind, Don't identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black and white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture.
Autism is predominantly a disorder that causes a delay in communication as well as difficulty with social interaction. One of the many things we do to work on the social component is to have our wonderful neighbor over once a week for an arranged playdate with Greyson, his therapist and myself. It takes two of us to try and facilitate interactions while attempting to keep Greyson from running out of the room. Greyson- hand the train to Gage. Gage- ask Greyson to give you a train. We try to do turn taking games - where I have to hand over hand prompt each move made by Greyson. Greyson tries to leave the playroom almost the entire time Gage is here. Grey usually screams and falls to the ground when we try to get him to interact with other kids. He craves to be by himself like a hunger. He retreats further into himself while in a room with others - reinforcing just how innately foreign social interactions are for him.
When Greyson plays with our train table he places a string of trains in the exact same order each time, putting a motorized Thomas the train engine on first. He then excitedly circles the train table over and over, screaming and grunting in delight while watching the trains go around and around. While Gage was here he put the trains in a different configuration- and started to play at the table the way I see other little boys play with trains. They go choo choo and zoom around and crash and all board for San Jose and tell a different story each time. Greyson hated it and tried to take all the trains away from the table- screaming and throwing things. I grab him, blocking his hits and silently pleading, PLAY WITH THE TRAINS LIKE GAGE. Just once- Throw me a fricking bone. Look at how easy it is. I wanted to see some sort of progress from all the things we've done for YEARS trying to crack him from his confining shell of rigid and isolation. And the progress we see is so slow, sometimes taking YEARS for the smallest move that sometimes it's almost impossible to detect.
And then this other part of me said- JUST STOP. YOU- CHRISSY. I feel so bizarre and ill- equipped. As if I just woke up in someone elses life. I'm trying to force my child to play- that's not how things are supposed to work. He will never play trains that way. He will never play cars that way. He will never play in a way that looks normal to you Chrissy. And that is just him. Listen to Kenny Rogers- Know when to hold em and know when to fold em. I think maybe you need to fold, Sister. You've tried- now it's time to focus on something else.
It's physically exhausting, running, catching and grabbing him over and over again. Attempting to hold him sitting in one spot for just a moment to catch a glimpse of something I just don't think I'll ever see naturally. All of that came crashing in on me tonight, so here I sit with puffy eyes, sharing first thoughts with you. Deep breath.
And now I remember that today is just a day. Things don't always feel so overwhelming. Time is a gift that never comes over empty handed. It likes to bring perspective.
And now looking through my pictures from the day I have to laugh. Not only does Greyson enjoy looking at things from different perspectives...
But he does it with rose colored lenses. They just didn't look like I had pictured.
Love celebrates, hopes, enhances. Love tries new things, sometimes despairs yet never gives up. Love persists. It gets up again tomorrow and tries again. Join me?
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