Pity Party

I know – such an original title today, but it is apropos for today’s vent.

Today’s catalyst for the latest episode in “Life with Michael” was an invitation to a family birthday party for our niece/the boys’ 2-year-old cousin.  The house was beautifully decorated, amazing food was laid out, a bouncy castle stood in the backyard, and smiling faces greeted us when we arrived.  For a brief moment it seemed that we were going to have a lovely afternoon – the weather was gorgeous, the wide backyard was set up perfectly for a kids’ party.  A few guests began to arrive………….and then things began to change.  Michael used to have a problem with little girls everywhere we went.  He’d see a cute little girl his age (or younger) and run over to touch her; not inappropriately – just a pat on the arm and then run off.  This isn’t exactly behavior you want your child doing around strangers, however, and today’s party was 90% little girl-guests. This hasn’t been a behavior Michael has exhibited in a very long time…….up until today.  He was simply unable to control himself.  No amount of redirection – whether it was putting him in the bouncy castle, giving him chips, showing him videos on the iPhone, or going for a walk – could make him stop.

That’s when I saw my husband become unglued.

No yelling or screaming – he didn’t make any sort of a scene.

But I knew he had had it.

Between the two of us, he is usually the more levelheaded parent ; I’m the one on the anti-anxiety meds and the one who loses my cool in stressful Michael-related situations.  After about 2 minutes of this behavior, my husband took Michael by the hand, started to say his goodbyes and proceeded to leave the party, stating that he’d come pick me and Christopher up later.  I was shocked.  That’s not the sort of thing I’ve seen him do before.  I tried to dissuade him, but his mind was made up.  To make a long story short, we talked, and I ended up leaving with Michael.  I had one plate of food, said my goodbyes and off we went.  (Since this was Mike’s family, I felt that it would be better for him to stay and for me to remove Michael.)

I’m tired.  I’m tired of feeling like an outsider in situations like this.  I’m tired of never being able to sit down and relax and not worry about what trouble Michael is getting in.  I’m tired of locking doors with a key from the inside and hiding that key so Michael won’t run away.  I’m tired of not being able to open our windows when the weather is nice for fear of the same reason.  I’m tired of watching Michael run around our house doing NOTHING but making messes and eat snacks he snuck out of the pantry.  I’m tired of people saying “Doesn’t Michael have any interests or things he likes to do?”” (No, he doesn’t – not video games, not television, not cars or trains – NOTHING.)  I’m tired of having to leave events because Michael can’t control himself.  I’m tired of having to spend money to replace things that Michael has broken.  I’m tired of my house NEVER being clean.  I’m tired of crying about it.  I’m tired of waiting for the therapy companies to call us back.  I’m tired of my insurance company who is giving us the runaround to pay for said therapies.  I’m tired of watching Christopher spend hours alone playing video games because he has no siblings he can play anything else with.

See, I told you it was a pity party.  The ironic thing is, pity is the last thing I want.  Pity doesn’t help.  I just want to know what it feels like to have a family where everything is normal.  Not that normal is the same for every family.  I don’t expect perfection.  Every family has stress – I’m fully aware of that.  But this is so different……and not in a good way.

The other thing that is so hard to swallow is that Michael was having such a good couple of weeks lately.  He was affectionate and calm; the aggression had started to decrease.  I was watching a news story last night about a young adult with autism who cannot speak at all, and is not self-sufficient in the least; I was feeling good because it seemed that our problems paled in comparison to this family.   But everything is relative.  Today was tough.  And to tell you the truth, Michael’s behavior today wasn’t even that bad.  But we were among a lot of strangers and everything tends to be exacerbated when there are people around who just don’t get it.  Not that anyone was giving us stares or rude remarks; but still……….

Michael has his special soccer program today; the place where I will be surrounded by a hundred plus people who DO get it.  I am so happy to have places where I can go like that.  I wish that everyone’s community offered those same programs.  It breaks my heart to hear about people who have nowhere to turn.

Oh, and just to add insult to injury, when I arrived home from the party today, I was greeted by a giant pile of dog doo waiting for me in the hallway all over my nice wood floor. Caroline got into the pantry yesterday and ate about 2 dozen Christmas cookies; apparently, they made their exit today.

Is 3 PM too early for a glass of wine?

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10 thoughts on “Pity Party

  1. OMG I so feel your pain. It is ok to have a pity party, sometimes you need to just say “uncle”. When I see you at soccer in a few minutes I hope you will vent some more. I am so sorry you are feeling this way, truly. Sometimes you just feel like stamping your feet. I love you!
    J

  2. Julia Adams says:

    my heart is just breaking for you Jen, I’m so sorry you had a tough day. thank you for sharing that. when we lived in va beach I spent three months as an aid to a boy with autism at my children’s elementary school. his family barely supported him in any way. I don’t blame you for wanting normal – this is our 11th Marine Corps move and I wish for normal in that way. I am glad that you’re not normal though, Michael has a mom who is better than normal, who is abnormally exceptional, extraordinarily capable, bless your hearts. I hope tomorrow is better.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I’m really sorry, Jen. Any parent could understand the stress of having “the kid who acted up” today. I know there is a bit of a difference with Michael, but so glad for him that hes got parents who expose him to environments where he can feel emotionally safe. I envy your strength. Its ok to vent, christ, I’ve vented far more pathetically over stepping on a frighten

    • Carolyn says:

      Oops hit send. I was going to say I’ve had serious mental breakdowns over stepping on a lego. I think you’ve built up loads of credit in that department! & 3pm for wine? Your late!

  4. Margaret Borello says:

    Jen, I love that you are blogging! I wouldn’t even know how to begin. You are a wonderful mother and teacher. God, gave a gift to Michael when he chose you to be his mother. Although I do not have an autistic child, I have worked with many and your son is special. I know that it must be hard on certain days, but the good days are amazing! You too are special.. as many people have said to me lately, God only gives us what we can handle! ( Aren’t you surprised I can be so good for being such a trouble-maker?)

    Love you Margaret

    • Thanks, Margaret! Yes, those good days are definitely a blessing! He’s such a sweet little peanut and we know this isn’t his fault. It’s just this disorder can be so frustrating. Sending you huge hugs and thanks for your words!

  5. MariJayne Loconto-Kozerski says:

    Aww Jennifer. I’m so sorry for the bad days. My son has not been diagnosed with autism, but has some spectrum-y behaviors if that makes sense. I worked with a developmental/behavioral pediatrician for many years in Hollywood. He’s still one of my best friends and we talk often about my son. I remember our autistic patients and their parents and not having a child of my own at the time, I was less than sympathetic (and not proud of that). I wish I could go back and be given another chance, but that won’t happen so in my own little way I pay it forward and try to be there for my friends who are dealing with it now. It’s a huge spectrum and I know kids on either end, from mild to severe, and I pray for all of you every single night. Hang in there. The next time we come down to FL, I’d love for Kevin and Michael to get together. No judgement, no weird stares, no drama…just 2 kids who can be themselves.

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