Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

J is for Jealousy

with 18 comments

I’ve mentioned before that for all the ways they can be different, my kids have an interestingly typical relationship.  They occasionally play together, in their own way.  They certainly seek each other out.  There are fights.  There is blaming each other for things they’ve done wrong.  There is teaming up as co-conspirators to wreak havoc.  There is a surprising amount of what you might call “normal” sibling behaviour.  And amongst all that, is jealousy.

Both of my kids like a lot of attention, and each becomes jealous of the other, particularly if I’m the only one around.  It is hard to handle, this push and pull, particularly when their needs can make it hard to be around each other.  Often I feel that if I’m not letting one down, I’m letting them both down.

And that push and pull goes a good way to describing my own jealousy.  I don’t feel jealous very often.  I like my life and the choices that I’ve made.  But I’m only human.  Once in a while, a feeling of jealousy will overwhelm me.  Like when I took the kids to the park.

Our local playground is renovating, so we went to the park near where Cubby plays football (soccer) which has a playground next to a cafe/restaurant.  A couple of times, we girls have gone there while the boys were at their game.  Pudding loves flitting between the playground and my table.  I’m free to relax over a pot of tea while keeping an eye on her play.  We both have a good time.

With Cubby there too, sitting at the restaurant is out of the question.  The push and pull takes me from one direction to another.  There is no relaxing and observing with the two of them.  I sit on a bench, knowing it won’t be for long, but I’m feeling unwell and could use the break.  Pudding pushes off, wanting to explore and take her dolly for a walk.  Cubby pulls in to me.  When we first arrive he is overwhelmed at first by the other children running around and making noise.  I gently encourage him to adjust to his new surroundings, and away from the safety of my proximity.

Pudding wanders too far.  I want to pull her back into a closer orbit.  I push Cubby to follow me closer to Pudding, but he isn’t ready yet, and refuses to move.  I watch her closely.  We’re not far, but she keeps going in the wrong direction.  She hasn’t turned back yet, and I wonder if she remembers where we are.  I call to her, but she doesn’t hear, or doesn’t respond.  The other kids playing, the other adults sitting and chatting make too much noise.

She turns around in a circle, but she still doesn’t see me.  I wave my arms like an air traffic controller, but it is too bright, and there are too many others running around her field of vision.  Now she is scared, and I hear her calling me.  Her face is a picture of anxiety.  I pick up the protesting Cubby and run to her relief.  All is well again.  I abandon the bench, and draw both of them back to the playground, warning Pudding that she needs to keep looking for me.  She doesn’t stray again.

I want to rest.  I feel the first sting of jealousy as I look over at them.  Tables of mothers with their friends.  Worse, with their own mothers.  At that moment, I want nothing more in the world than to be sitting over tea with my mum.  I force myself to concentrate on the kids instead, so the emotion doesn’t take over.  Another child takes Pudding’s doll stroller without asking, and she lets her.  She just stands there, until I ask if she wants it back.  She does, and I coach her through asking the girl to return it.  And when the little brat refuses, I intervene myself, because her own parent who should be watching is at one of these tables, doing something other than paying attention to her child’s behaviour.

And the jealousy is throbbing now, because there is never a moment when I’m not paying attention to my kid’s behaviour.  This luxury of being able to ignore, to content yourself that your child will be fine is something all these mothers take for granted.  I can’t even sit on a bench when I feel sick.  I can’t even visit a doctor unless they’re in school.  I live on a different continent to all my relatives, and right at this moment I’m bitterly jealous of the carefree families relaxing in the sunshine.

I take the stroller and call Pudding and Cubby to join me on a climbing frame in the shape of a rocket.  My mood calms down as we play.  Cubby is driving us to the mall.  Pudding has her doll on her lap for the journey.  I’m pretending we can see planets and spaceships on our journey.  We have a few minutes of uninterrupted contentment.  Then we are disturbed.

A boy, probably eight or nine years old comes over to the rocket.  I get down so there is plenty of room for him to play as well, but hang close by.  He climbs up on top, over the area where my two are sitting.  Cubby moves away from the driver’s seat, and Pudding uses the space to lie down- she and Kelly doll are taking a nap.  A smile at the unexpected gift of pretend play.

The first time he does it, I think it was an accident.  He was trying to get down, and accidentally stood on her head as he looked for somewhere to place his feet.  That must have been it.  Even though there was plenty of other space around, he didn’t look before he started to climb down.  That had to be it.  She doesn’t react, though it must have hurt.  I look up at the boy, and he is looking down at Pudding.  But he isn’t climbing down.  And he raises his foot again, and stomps down harder on Pudding’s head.

This time I’m sure it is deliberate.  I’m too shocked to speak, and it is Cubby’s voice I hear telling me that the boy is kicking his sister.  He lifts his leg again, and before I know it, I’ve pulled myself up on the climbing frame, and we are face to face.  He freezes.  I don’t say anything, but the look on my face is enough.  He backs away and scampers off the rocket.  I go over to Pudding, still lying there, not even able to put her arms protectively around her head, but she is okay.

I’m not.  I’m not interested in the boy, but I’m poisoned with rage and I need to find this child’s parents.  He has already run out of sight.  I cast my eye over every table, but not one person is looking, or following in his direction.  Pudding wants to go home, so we do.

But even once we’re home, I can feel that jealousy like venom spreading through my body.  Because if my child attacks another, whether provoked or not, or under sensory assault, or just because they are plain mean; we have to answer it with more therapy.  With more hours spent helping our children learn to respond to the world in a socially appropriate way.  We don’t get to ignore it, and we don’t get to sit over a latte oblivious to the damage being done.  We can’t absolve ourselves of responsibility even for a moment.

There is an antidote, of course.  Those other parents don’t know what they’re missing out on, and they really are missing out on so much.  You can’t fully appreciate what you have when you’re not paying attention.  And not every parent of typically developing children is inattentive, not by a long shot.  But some are, and at times I’m just plain jealous of them, when perhaps it should be the other way round.

This post is part of my A-Z series.  You can find the previous ones by clicking >here<.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

18 Responses

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  1. Sorry 😦

    Di

    December 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm

  2. Oh can I relate to this post and the exhausting feeling to always be on watch on guard so to speak. The other moms in my area think that I am “that mom” the one all the neighborhood kids love because I am there right in the middle of the nerf battle or supplying snacks for all the kids or initiating some other game or idea. But what they don’t realize is that I have to be “that mom”. I need to be there if there is a meltdown or if a head gets stepped on because we never know how our kids will react and if they do react it is another opportunity for a social story. It is tiring and yes I too would like to be sitting somewhere sipping tea. But in the long run… I know my kids are benefitting from me being “that mom”. Memories are being made and lessons and growth is happening. But a cup of tea now and then would still be nice!

    Sharon from Mama's Turn Now

    December 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

  3. You’ve written something so true here. And the way you’ve ended this sums it all up perfectly.

    “There is an antidote, of course. Those other parents don’t know what they’re missing out on, and they really are missing out on so much. You can’t fully appreciate what you have when you’re not paying attention. And not every parent of typically developing children is inattentive, not by a long shot. But some are, and at times I’m just plain jealous of them, when perhaps it should be the other way round.”

    We’re too old for the playground now, but I remember those times vividly.

    dixieredmond

    December 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm

  4. I wonder what was up with that kid. I experienced a similar situation at a playground here locally. The same sort of. . . maybe the kick was an accident thing. But I could see the look on the kid’s face. . . supporting himself with his hands on bars and swinging his legs. His feet swung closer and closer to Lily. She was oblivious, spinning, chatting with herself. He was watching her like a hawk. Then he kicked out at her and I was in motion, all scowls and angry eyebrows, but he missed her. When he started up again his father, who WAS watching him, but had been momentarily distracted, saw what he was doing and collected him; steering him toward more childless zones of playgroundery.

    I THINK. . . he was irritated that Lily was too close for him to play the way he wanted to play. I think he was just trying to kick out and sort of “teach her a lesson” while simultaneously getting himself more room so the annoyance of this other spinning chattering child would detract less from his enjoyment of the playground equipment.

    And then I thought. . . I wonder if he has his own issues. It didn’t stop me from thinking, “you need to stop kicking at my daughter, you little shit,” but Lily’s issues make me so much more aware that not every kid can process emotions . . . neurotypically.

    Of course. . . he may just have been a little shit who was being raised by little shit parents in their own image. *shrugs* You control the things you can control, you know, or you go insane.

    Sounds like YOU at least are controlling the things you can control.

    I don’t really feel that same jealousy, but I’m not isolated in the same way you are. But I think if I did feel it, your antidote is precisely the same one I’d be using.

    sorry for the comment spew. . .

    blogginglily

    December 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm

  5. Oh, SM, I really feel for you! I’m also guilty of parent jealousy. It hits me every time my daughter and I visit the playground after school. I need to watch her like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t do something dangerous (she is ridiculously impulsive). Yet I see other moms sitting on the park benches, *reading books!!* or chatting with other moms or texting away on their phones.

    But you’re right — we need to be vigilant and we need to protect our children because they cannot protect themselves. That constant contact with your child is both a burden and a treasure — I do long for a break to chat with a friend, but I love the moments of discovery and pure joy I can experience with Little Miss.

    Luckily, when we do get the time, I have my “bloggy buddies” (as I like to call them) who can listen to my tales (so much like yours) and make me feel sane for my outrage. Hang in there and remember that there are good people in the world. In fact, I can count a few of them right now in the comments above mine 🙂

    Karla (Mom2LittleMiss)

    December 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm

  6. I am right here with you. I spend a lot of time wishing I could step back but I can’t.

    But your last thought? Hit me hard. You’re right. While those parents chat and text or whatever they are missing out on connecting with their kids and the other kids around them. And amazing people like you.

    (is it bad that I want to go find that boy’s parents though?)

    akbutler

    December 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

  7. I totally relate to the jealousy part… the other moms who have very generous parents willing to take the grandkids for an hour or the weekend on a whim. [SIGH] I also had a fairly normal home life with my kids, and was right there with them doing the activities and supervising play. My rambunctious children were always going in different directions, although my oldest son was somewhat aggressive with other kids and (pre-diagnosis) was “kicked out” of multiple daycare centers because of it. In later conversations with him (he’s 22 now), he revealed that during that pre-school time of his life, he lived in his own imagined world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles..one of his special interests. A real “a-ha” moment for me.

    Karen

    December 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

  8. I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t be jealous because it happens to everyone…but don’t ever wish you were a parent who could ‘take the back seat’ because those are the ones who don’t care. While you’re constantly on guard and watching your children, their kids are stepping on others heads and creating chaos with no one to stop them. I read your posts and you’re amazing and sensitive!! You work hard at giving your children the best and it shows through your word that they are everything they can be because of you! They’re continually growing and although it’s tiring, I feel that you benefit from it by seeing them progress and become more comfortable with their world…but you already know that. 🙂

    Anonymous

    December 16, 2011 at 12:03 am

  9. Wow,you’ve articulatd exactly how I feel but didn’t even realise til now. So sorry that Pudding was hurt like that. And you’re right….we don’t ever get the luxury of ignoring our kids but the bonus is that we get to experience everything. The highs, lows and everything in between.

    Fi (Wonderfully Wired Mum)

    December 16, 2011 at 1:30 am

  10. (((Hugs))) I’m sorry that experience ended so badly. I really want to chew that boy’s ass a new one- sorry, but it’s my gut mama instinct. Jim might be right that the boy has his own issues but when he hurts such an innocent sweet girl like Pudding – he needs to know how wrong that behavior was before he gets worse.

    Jealousy is ugly. We all experience it. But right up to the point where you explain how Pudding was hurt, I was loving all the moments you were spending with both of your beautiful children. These are the good memories – the ones that bond you in a special way. And we are blessed to have the kind of relationship with our kids that is full of connections that we could never explain to those NT moms in a million years.

    solodialogue

    December 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm

  11. Fabulous post. I read The first part not able to relate as my guy is an only, but the second part-yup, I can totally relate. It’s hard to watch the other mothers not notice the things their own children are doing-both good and bad. But we have a perspective they will never have.

    Kim

    December 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm

  12. […] 2. J is for Jealousy You can’t fully appreciate what you have when you’re not paying […]

    Autism Hero Highlights

    December 17, 2011 at 12:08 am

  13. I’m what they call a helicopter mum, one who needs to hover and watch them like a hawk because I don’t know what might happen if I don’t. I also feel jealous at times, as I don’t get to sit down and relax for a moment but, you’re right, the payoff is spending more time with them and guiding them and having a more enriched relationship with them. That, in the end, is what matters most.

    Kirsty@MyHomeTruths

    December 17, 2011 at 7:05 am

  14. once again i am stunned with the way you have perfectly described a typical day at the park for me and my two kids. I know exactly how you feel. and i dont have my mother either.

    selina

    December 20, 2011 at 12:36 am

  15. […] last post, in this series- J for Jealousy- was both easy and difficult to write.  Easy in the sense that I sat at a keyboard for twenty […]

  16. Hi. I don’t know how I missed this post since I have been keeping up with you and your family for a while now, but I’m glad you linked back to it. I totally get how you feel. I’m guessing all of us living on this autism island have felt that way.

    the jay train

    January 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm

  17. […] a Special Needs Mother I admit to occasional feelings of jealousy towards the Moms of Typically Developing Kids.  The Multiple Moms must want us to shut the hell up […]


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