A Mom’s Shameful Regret


He’s been needling me all day.

It’s a cold, rainy day and I didn’t get any sleep. The weather is too miserable for me to go outside for some invigorating fresh air. I’m trying hard to hide the fact that I’m irritable, and for the most part, I’ve been succeeding.

Just another hour to go…

Just sixty more minutes until I tuck him in, turn the lights out and kiss him goodnight. He’ll sleep well tonight. He usually does when he’s been fussing all day. Irritation and anxiety take a lot of energy out of him.

And there has been a lot of irritation and anxiety today. He’s kept on wanting stuff but not knowing how to ask for it. He’s been frustrated by my failed attempts to understand him. He has been pushing his little brother around, because he just doesn’t know what to do with the frustration. Sheets have been ripped off beds. Toy boxes have been turned upside down. Hampers full of clean, folded laundry have been upended. There’s a new hole in the drywall from a headbanging incident.

I’ve been taking it in my stride, talking in low, calm tones to soothe myself as well as him. Earlier I escaped to the shower for a much-needed ten minutes. I’ve been keeping myself going by taking this difficult day in five-minute chunks, by guiltily counting down the minutes until the kids’ bedtime, by promising myself a relaxing glass of wine as soon as the kids have dropped off to sleep.

They’re in their pyjamas now, and I’m preparing their bedtime cups of milk.

He comes up to me and yells something unintelligible. I sigh inwardly and look at him.

“What did you say?” My question comes out more sharply than I had intended.

He walks over to the door, and opens it for the express purpose of slamming it as hard as he can.

And just like that, I’ve had enough. That one small action has been enough to send me over the edge, to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“I’m SICK of this!” I scream, surprising even myself. “Why can’t you just be NORMAL?”

Instantly, I realize what I’ve said and I feel like the worst mother in the world. This is my son, my beautiful boy. He hasn’t been difficult today on purpose. It’s not his fault he has autism, and he hasn’t enjoyed this anxiety-filled day any more than I have. And I have just yelled at him for not being normal.

I’ve done something terrible, I think to myself.

I look at my child, who I absolutely adore, who I have just thrown such dreadfully hurtful words at, and I wish I could have the chance to take it back.

I didn’t mean it. I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world.

I sink down onto the couch and dissolve into tears. I am full of self-loathing, and every fibre of my being is wondering what damage I have done, and how much I have set back my child’s progress.

As I sit there sobbing, with my face buried in my hands, I feel a small movement next to me. I look up and he is there, looking at me with a combination of confusion and concern.

“Go give Mommy a hug,” he says softly, and wraps his arms around my neck.

And that makes me cry even harder.

(Photo credit: butupa. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)


Autism: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

When my firstborn son was first diagnosed with autism five years ago, the force of it all was like a kick in the head. I honestly did not know how I was going to live the rest of my life as an autism parent, especially with the doom-and-gloom picture that was presented to us by the diagnosing doctor.

But life has an uncanny way of continuing, no matter what. We adapt and survive, and sometimes we even manage to see the positives in a situation that is, by most people’s standards, less than ideal.

The Good

* Every moment of accomplishment is a cause for celebration. I have a true appreciation for what most people think are “the little things”.

* My son can problem-solve rings around the rest of us. His thinking is at times very effective while also being wayyyyy out of the box. It offers a whole new perspective on life.

* My two boys have a healthy amount of sibling rivalry going on, but they also have a great deal of love for each other. My younger son’s empathy and kindness toward his brother that has to be seen to be believed. It makes me well up with tears every time.

* Let’s face it, many kids with autism are computer geeks. And it’s very handy having a built-in computer geek.

* I believe that having a child with autism makes me a better and more patient parent.

* Kids with autism can have funny, quirky senses of humour that take you where you least expect to go.

* Hugs from kids with autism can be the absolute best.

The Bad

* When my child is trying with all his might to express something and doesn’t know how to, the look of frustration and desperation in his eyes is heartbreaking.

* Sometimes my younger son tells me that he wishes his brother didn’t have autism. There are no words to describe how that feels.

* Autism is unbelievably, phenomenally exhausting, and that’s just for me. I cannot imagine what it must sometimes be like for my son.

* There is a lot of frustration involved in advocating for my child in the school system. The vast majority of teachers are genuinely good and caring people who mean well, but a lot of them just don’t get it.

* I worry about my son’s future every single day. Will he ever be able to brush his teeth and take a shower independently? Will he ever learn to look both ways before crossing the street? Will he be bullied in high school? Will he be given the same opportunities as other kids? Will he be OK when, someday, I am no longer here?

The Ugly

* There are holes in the drywall from all the headbanging incidents. They are not pretty.

* We are frequently the targets of people who stare and say rude things. They are not pretty either.

* As much as I think that autism has made me a better parent, I am only human, and sometimes I lose it. Big-time. I slam things and scream like a banshee.

* Sometimes, I have to battle my son’s autism and my depression at the same time, and it’s such a battle. I teeter on the edge of these big black pits of despair, and it is absolutely terrifying.

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)