Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘emotions

The Grass is always Greener

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I don’t know how many times in the last couple of years I’ve watched my husband leave for work with a twinge of envy.

Don’t get me wrong, it is my choice to stay at home with the kids, and I’m grateful to be able to make that choice, but some days that choice feels like more of a necessity.  Engaging and playing with children is hard work when it doesn’t come naturally to them.  When conversation is a rare treat, I miss office banter.  And of course, this job goes unpaid and without leave.  It is only natural I’d be envious at times.  Some days I’d just like to do something different, use my brain and step outside of these walls.

Today and tomorrow, I get to do just that.

I have a mandatory seminar for two days about security overseas.  I am looking forward to moving and our new life in Johannesburg, but it would be foolish to deny the real safety concerns about living there.  It is considered a critical post for crime, something I hadn’t given too much thought about until I had to do my homework for the seminar.  Reading about all the potential threats, I’m nervous.  Of course, when I mentioned this to Spectrummy Daddy, he wisely pointed out that the only way to assuage my worry was to go to the seminar and learns strategies for maintaining our security.

So I should be thrilled that I get to go tomorrow.  But I’m not.  Partly because I just plain old have too much to do.  We move out at the end of this week, and mini-crisis after mini-crisis means I’m way behind in what needs to be done.  I’ll have to miss the only appointment we could get with Pudding’s psychiatrist before we leave.

Then there is the other side of it.

I don’t know what to wear.  I’m so out of step with doing anything buy my current role as a spectrummy mummy, I find it weird to do anything else; even if it is just for two days, even if all I need to do is show up and sit there.  I’m going to find it hard to keep my mind from being here instead of there, particularly when it seems to be crammed so full at the moment.

I know I should just enjoy the break, but this isn’t a time when I would have asked for a break.  This is a time when I feel strongly that I need to be on hand, every day, every hour, every minute.  Pudding’s separation anxiety is at an all-time high, and she is thrown by this new upset.  Just two days to us, is more uncertainty and anxiety for her, at a time when she just doesn’t need more.  When none of us need any more.

Still, Spectrummy Daddy will be here to take over, and I know they’ll be in safe hands.  I’m not so vain as to think the whole world will turn upside-down if I’m not the one taking charge for a couple of days.  Maybe it will be good for all of us to change things up a little, and experience things a little differently.

And what stay-at-home parent doesn’t want to show their other half just what is involved with staying at home?  And how many working parents have wanted to demonstrate the challenge of having to be apart when your family needs you at home?  We’ll get to learn something about how our family would operate if things changed for us.

I wonder how many times over the last couple of years Spectrummy Daddy has left for work with a twinge of envy at not being able to stay home.  Maybe two days are what we both need to learn if the grass is just as green as it appears on the other side.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 18, 2011 at 6:02 am

Wordless Wednesday 8 Jun 11

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How Pudding described her day in feelings...mine would be exactly the same.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 8, 2011 at 6:43 am

Moving On (at Hopeful Parents)

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This post was originally published here at Hopeful Parents.

We are now 75 days from moving.  A very big move.  I’m starting to think about packing, but there is much to do before then.  We have too much stuff to pack, far too many things accumulated over the last almost two years.  Much of it we no longer have a use for, but is good enough to be reused or recycled.  I’ve spent much of this month dividing up our belongings this way, and my house is messier than ever.  I crave the piece of mind that an organized house would bring, but there is never going to be enough time for that.

For now, I’m thinking about what needs to be cleared out, and what I need to keep to take with us.

When we moved in, I had a freshly diagnosed on the autism spectrum 2 year-old, and a baby.  Most of our belongings had been shipped ahead to the Panama Canal, waiting for us in a life that wasn’t meant to be.  Friends came to our rescue with with loaned baby equipment and toddler toys.  We bought things too, unable to wait for our belongings and trying to establish a home, little realizing that finances were about to get so difficult.  Everything seemed justified at the time, each new toy or piece of therapeutic equipment seemed so vital, but really, it was just stuff.  Stuff that has been outgrown, or no longer serves its purpose.

There were other things I brought into the house too.  Things that aren’t bought, but cost us dearly.  Like fear, worry, anger, and guilt.  They carry too much weight.  I’d love to throw them out.  I know nobody else has any use for them either, and I certainly don’t need to take them on to the next phase in our lives.   I’m going to at least try, and say that I’m moving on.  Perhaps it will work.

If only we could jettison that extra baggage.  We’d be able to free up space for the things we need to take with us.

The good stuff.  Things I’ve learned along the way that have proved valuable, invaluable even.  Awareness, insight, and education.  I’d love to pass these items on.  I’d like to be able to hand them over to another family like us who could make good use of them.  Gently used, but still in very good condition.  Things that should never be scrapped.

But there are many more things I also need to pack up to take with us.  I can’t live without hope.  I wouldn’t be able to make the move without being able to laugh at myself.  I wouldn’t go anywhere without the understanding that has been two years in the making, but it still unfinished.

And then the big one: support.  It might come in the form of a friend’s email telling me she understands.  It could come from my husband’s arms after a challenging day.  Almost every day I’m fortunate to get a comment from someone telling me they live it too, propping me up when times are tough, and sharing the thousand little celebrations of this journey.  It can’t fit into a packing case, but it comes with me, and I can’t express how grateful I am for it.

These are the things that life me up so I’m ready to take off.

Whether your adventure takes place in your hometown, or the other side of the globe, I hope you only live it with the things you need.  Let me know if you find a way of clearing out the unwanted things for good.  I don’t want to keep accumulating junk.

I don’t need 75 days, and I don’t need to go anywhere.  I’m ready to move on right now.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 19, 2011 at 7:51 am

Wordless Wednesday 11 May 11

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Funprint book + washable ink

Pudding provides the thumbprints

I add the details

And write the word next to it.

Pudding learns to spell the word.

We see if she can write the word the next time.

Look at all these lovely feelings!

Using Pudding’s love of art (and a visual/tactile/proprioceptive method) to help her to learn.

Happy Wordless Wednesday everybody!

Boston (part one)

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I’d been waiting for Saturday to come for what seemed like forever.  Finally the day had arrived to trade in my huge rucksack for my rarely used handbag.  It was my day off.   Spectrummy Mummy goes to Boston!

I was ready, prepared, excited, and nervous.  I busied myself with the mechanics of getting there.  Pudding was not happy that I was going to fly without her, something that has never happened before.  I tried to reassure her that I was returning that evening, and that she would do a day of fun stuff with her daddy and brother.  I left her crying as I went through security.  Later Spectrummy Daddy texted me that she was so upset because she didn’t know what I was going to eat for breakfast.  It makes sense, apart from one overnight trip to a friend’s wedding, I’ve never left Pudding or Cubby.  They always know what I eat for breakfast.  That small detail I’d omitted rocked her world.

So I pressed on through airport security.  Something that is so, so, so much easier to navigate without children in tow.  Ever the autism mother even on my day off, I snapped some pictures of the process to help with social stories.  It crossed my mind that it could be suspicious behavior, but I don’t exactly meet the profile for a terrorist, so nobody commented.  I chatted with the TSA agents about the best way to navigate the screening process with special needs children.  My day’s work over, I got to enjoy a coffee and croissant, without feeling guilty about eating allergic foods, and without half the coffee being spilled on me, or deliberately poured out.  Simple pleasures.

The very brief flight was over quickly.  Remarkable for how uneventful it was.  No crying because of the loud noises.  No kicking the seat in front.  No invading of personal space.  No loud humming, or singing, or shrieking.  No jumping up and down, or moving the window shutter up and down, or turning the fan and light on and off repeatedly.  Honestly, I was on my very best behaviour!

The flight to Boston was so quick that I got to the airport 20 minutes before Alysia arrived to meet me, so I had plenty more time to be nervous.  What if I come across differently in my blog, and she is disappointed?  I express myself better through writing than I do in person, so I might not be what she expected.  What if she is different to how I’d imagined?  What if we don’t get on?  It was a lot like a blind date.  Only I’ve never flown to another city for a blind date, so the stakes were higher.

But then she appeared, carrying a sign for “Spectrummy Mummy” (as I’d demanded in my rider) and it wasn’t like meeting a new friend, it was like greeting an old one.

We hugged, and my nerves evaporated.  I knew everything was going to be great as I spent the day with my new old friend.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 9, 2011 at 7:27 am

The Tracks of my Tears

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So what I didn’t refer to in yesterday’s post were the tears.  At one point in the afternoon, I was a little puddle.  I’d been holding on for a few days.  I’d wanted to cry when I locked Cubby in the car, but that would have only made the situation worse.  I’d wanted to cry when I felt ill the next day, but there didn’t seem much point by then.  I’d wanted to shed tears of forcing a claustrophobic Pudding to stay inside, but I held back.  And I really wanted to cry upon hearing about the 16 hour flight, but somehow managed not to.

I pride myself on my stiff upper lip from my English heritage.  I felt that I’d cried too many tears when Pudding was first diagnosed.  I vowed not to waste any more on something I couldn’t change.  A useless, self-indulgent act.

I’m stressed to the point of tears, and I don’t let myself…because it is self-indulgent?  How else am I going to indulge myself?  When am I going to indulge myself?  And at what point do I let myself break?  So I reclined on the sofa, and let the tears fall.  My inner Englishwoman did chide me for being so ridiculous, but I just gave in to it.

After a few minutes, Pudding came to find me.  “I want wheels on the bus song.”

I ignored her.

I don’t want to admit this, but I was waiting to see if she’d notice.  She didn’t.  She wasn’t looking.  Her mind was on hearing the song she wanted, my feelings not relevant right then.  I wasn’t feeling like making it a teaching moment.  There will be other opportunities to demonstrate how to show concern.  I cried some more, I was being indulgent anyway, why not gratify myself with a few more tears?  I let them flow.

She asked again, a few times, until I asked her to leave through my sobs.  I’m not proud.  Hardly my best parenting moment, but I justified that she needs to see emotions if she is ever to understand them.  I know, my inner Englishwoman is rolling her eyes too.

Once Pudding had made her retreat, Cubby entered.  He saw me crying and stopped.  His face contorted into a sob, but somehow he held himself in check, and didn’t make a sound.  It was a look of…concern.  Something I’d never seen him do before.  Previously when I’d hurt myself, or Pudding cried, his reaction had been to cry too.  I fell down the stairs some weeks ago, and he cried for 20 minutes after, even though it was my ankle that was hurt, and he was just a witness.

“Mummy’s crying…..Mummy’s sad.”

We label emotions a lot, so I wasn’t surprised he had detected this one.  But I was surprised by what he did next.  He crawled up on the couch next to me, and grabbed a lock of my hair.  He just sat there, his head resting on mine, stroking my hair.  Trying to comfort me in the way that works for him.  I took it.  Before long the tears stopped flowing, and I dried my face.  I gave my little guy a hug.

He looked at me and asked, “Mummy happy?”

I told him I was, and we left to join his sister for wheels on the bus.  I gave Pudding a squeeze, though she hadn’t solicited it, and didn’t particularly welcome it.

As Cubby nears two, I can really see the different developmental tracks they are taking.  Different, not less.  Pudding will get there, at her own pace.  She is still in the race, and there is no prize for winning.  What comes naturally and easily to her brother is an arduous task for her to master.  Though Cubby has some challenges too, they pale into comparison with those of his sister.
Some kids get to sprint, others must face a marathon.  I’m proud of her, and all her efforts.  Truly, her determination takes my breath away.  Her spirit keeps her on track, instead of sitting on the bench.

But I would be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt at times as I watch her get overtaken.  Those tears will have to fall too, useless and indulgent as they may be.


Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 11, 2011 at 7:24 am

On Death

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RIP Jerry

Pudding’s short life has so far been pretty charmed, in that she hasn’t known much loss.  When we’ve gone to museums and looked at animals, I’ve tried to explain that they are not alive, as opposed to the ones in zoos which are alive.  I think she is still a little young to get the concept.

Last year, before I began the blog, Spectrummy Daddy was getting ready to go to Afghanistan.  On an impulse, I decided we needed something to focus on at home while he was gone, and thus Jerry came into our lives.  Pudding is scared of dogs (perhaps wisely, as the yappy dog who lives down the street that started her terror abit me on the leg last week), I’m allergic to cats and various other fluffy creatures.  The lowest maintenance thing I could think of was a fish.  We bought a red betta and brought him home.  A fighting fish would protect us while Daddy was gone!

Every morning Pudding would include Jerry in her goodbyes before school.  She liked to look at him, as did Cubby.  Then, inevitably, I suppose, came the morning when I came downstairs to find Jerry was swimming at the top of the water.  I panicked.  How would she react to this?  Would she be able to understand the concept of death?  She was only 3, a little young for such matters.  Would she grieve?  Would she be angry, or sad, or just not care?  I just didn’t know.  Nowadays  I would have just written a post about it, and waited for your sage comments to guide me through.  Instead, I waited for her reaction to guide me.

Her reaction didn’t come.  She didn’t notice Jerry that morning, and when she went to school, I removed his lifeless corpse and the tank.  When she returned home, I waited for her to notice, but she didn’t.  She never mentioned him, and life for the rest of us continued.  I decided against replacing him.  Clearly I’m not good at keeping fish alive, and she showed no signs of missing him.  Several months passed without a mere mention.

Last week I was emailing her teacher before school, when Pudding approached me and asked where Jerry was.  I was utterly unprepared for the question.  I wondered if she meant somebody else named Jerry, perhaps a character from a book.  I asked her who Jerry was, and she told me, ” a fish.”  I took a breath, and prepared for my first shot at explaining something so utterly beyond me.

Me: Jerry isn’t here any more.  What do you think happened to him?

Pudding: Jerry is gone.

Me: That is right, honey.  He is not alive any more.  He is gone and can’t come back.  Do you miss him?

Pudding: Jerry is gone.  Jerry is gone.

Me: Yes.  What happened to Jerry?  Where do you think he is now?

Pudding: Jerry is gone in the water.  He is swimming in the water.  Jerry is gone in the water.

And then she trotted off to get a book.  The conversation over.  I don’t know if she misses him or not.  I don’t know if she understands.  Maybe in another few months she’ll be back with more questions.  Until then, she is right.  Jerry is gone.  I hope that wherever he is, he is happily swimming in the water.  I also hope that Daddy is around when she next thinks of her little fish friend.  After all, he is the one in charge of religion and frozen desserts.  

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 17, 2011 at 8:42 am