I just want a moment to breathe. To sleep, (oh god to sleep!!!) Studies show that moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication, and I can prove it to be true.
My first born baby boy, Greyson is 22 months old and plugged into Blue's Clues for at least the fifth episode in a row. I stopped counting somewhere around the second one.
I am a nursing machine to my brand new baby boy Parker, and it hurts and I'm tired and over it. I'm trying like mad to nurse extra on the right side this time so I don't turn back into cyclops boob. I feel trapped. Michael just returned to work this morning after a couple of weeks at home with us. He is so lucky. I heard the rise and fall of the garage door, and now he is gone. And somehow, I am to survive the next eight or so hours, most likely doing exactly this all day long. It's nothing productive and everything exhausting all rolled into one.
We are in survival mode. Cleaning and grocery shopping and running errands are not on our agenda. Figuring out how in the hell other people do this two kid thing, (and also somehow make it look easy) is.
I just need a moment to breathe.
We are now a little over five years past that time in my life. Greyson is seven, and Parker is five.
And without my permission, they went from littles to bigs.
Just like that.
Today I had a meeting with the boys Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) folks. In case these three letters strewn together are not commonplace in your vernacular, let me explain. ABA is how most kids with autism learn best. As a discipline, ABA providers are charged with the improvement of behaviors which can include communication, social skills, academics, reading and adaptive living skills such as gross and fine motor skills, toileting, dressing, eating, personal self-care, domestic skills, and work skills. Education law supports the use of specific and effective interventions for children with autism- you can't just head to your closest school and enroll them in general education, drop em off and go.
In Spectrumville, everything is different. What is purple here, is scrambled eggs there. Now sometimes that is good, because in Spectrumville apparently hands are fascinating, looking at things from the corner of your eye is normal, lining things up feels like jumping, and things with wheels are the coolest things in the world. (Oh and PS-clothes are optional-duh).
But sometimes it's bad. When you have autism, you have some degree of difficulty with communication. You have behaviors that aren't always OK (like hurting yourself or screaming over and over again, until you are sobbing and sweating and shaking, because you desperately WANT to communicate something important with words, but you just don't have the ability) Autistics struggle with social skills and social norms. Trying to go through life in a majority neuro-typical world can feel almost like an impossible task for people with autism. ABA helps bridge those gaps.
Today during the meeting we talked about Parker's upcoming enrollment in school, and what kind of after school ABA hours we were planning on doing. I started thinking about what our days were going to look like. And then I started thinking about what my days were going to look like and I was certain I was just about to burst into loud, embarrassing tears. I'm trying not to cry right now as I share these words with you. In a small way, I felt like I was being let go of my job. Or maybe my heart. Thanks so much for all your hard work and support on this project, Chrissy. Congratulations! It is complete. You are done with the toddler years!
But NO NO NO, I want to yell forcefully. I demand a recount, you people are wrong. I am not ready to be done with this part. I want to go back for just a day to the teething and the nursing and the sleep deprivation. I want to go back and complain about how freaking hard it is, but I still want to do it all over again. Back to the days when we were together all day every day. The days we ate lunch together and walked to the park before nap. Those were the worst and greatest days I've ever lived, of that I am certain. They were profoundly ordinary and they are now just sugar coated dreams. Even the shit parts.
But here I am, I couldn't believe it. It's here, the moment I prayed and wished and hoped and prayed some more for. I can breathe. I can sleep. I can use the bathroom by myself. I can shower whenever I need to. It really did get easier as they got older, just like everyone promised. But maybe...just maybe, easy isn't always the best.
And I just want to cry. I want to go into my room and close the door and cry as hard as the rain that is pounding on my roof right now. But instead I focus on breathing. In and out, all day long. This is life, and we are always at the beginning and middle and end of something. (Always.) In fact, that's one of the requirements of being human.
It looks like I've made it to the other side of this middle. Almost all the extremely hard parts in life are middle.
The beginning is easier. We are either unaware or up for the task or adventure. The end is a breeze, when we see the finish line and the next thing we know, the end is complete. Processed. Understood. The things that didn't make sense in the during become clear.
It's the middle that kills us. It's awful, exhausting and leaves so many unanswered questions. We don't do so well in the middle. It is excruciating. Things move too slow to even chart or measure progress. And this middle is where we live most of our lives. It's a lesson the universe is hell bent on teaching us. It is five minutes after you get your period when you are trying to get pregnant. It is week 10-35 of pregnancy. It's when you are waking every three hours and thinking- "if only they would sleep through the night."
When it comes to kids, there is always a middle.
It was when Parker was 4 months old, realizing Greyson had autism, and therefore, P's chances were much higher. It was waiting. Painful waiting for 12 months from that fear until the signs I looked for every day showed up. God, that was so the middle.
Some of our middles are tiny and hard- my hair just got fried and I had to cut inches I didn't want to off. I still have inches of dead that I will have to slowly wait to cut off. And now I hate my choppy, not me color hair. And hair grows so fricking slow. I just want to fast forward to the end, but the next 6 months I will have to remain right in the middle of this. Like this, some middles are just uncomfortable.
But some middles are torture, like waiting to see if the cancer returned. Waiting to find out if it's true. Waiting to see if you got the job or the part. Waiting to see if it was the right decision. Waiting to see what the future holds for you. Waiting until you find out if they are cheating. Waiting for the divorce to be final. Waiting to find out if it was all worth it.
This is life, and the middle, however hard it is (and it is so so hard), means we are alive. We are headed to the end soon enough. And we may find once it's all done and figured out, we wish we could go back to the middle instead. The middles are where strength is born and lessons lie. The middle is where character is formed and we become real. We become who we are.
We took the boys jumping. I realized my favorite part is that moment right in the middle. When you're at the top and your stomach doesn't know if it's so scary or so fun, and your hair is fluffed high and you can't stop grinning. And the part right before you pee because two kids have come out of down there. Sometimes the middle is where all the good stuff is at.
And I remember now, as I approach the end of this particular phase, there will be a million more beginnings in my life still. But this is going to ache for a minute. We are constantly ending, beginning and right in the middle of so many things in life. The ride is far from over, until we leave this earth, a new beginning is always on its way.
We just have to find a way to find the joy in all the parts. And be grateful we get to experience them.