Mothers exhaustion and Aspergers
I've been spending some time reading the comments section to the post I wrote about mothers and depression when dealing with Aspergers. I marvel at what we mothers deal with, and the fortitude that is required to keep doing the work that we must do to support our children.
I have a funny feeling that if we were able to get a group of women together who have children on the spectrum, we would all look very tired. We might look ten years older than our peers of the same age. We might not be as stylishly dressed as others -- because our spare income goes for therapy, or social skills classes, or even just for nice clothes for our children to make up for their lack of social skills. We don't have time to be stylishly dressed, or to wear much makeup. We have a job to do. A job that others never even have to worry about.
Only another mother of a child on the spectrum understands that you spend almost EVERY WAKING HOUR wondering what you could be doing to improve your child's chances. Every waking hour is spent reading books about autism or aspergers. Every waking hour is spent dealing with teachers or therapists or psych people of many persuasions. As the children age, every waking hour is spent checking their grades, checking teacher's websites, making sure that you catch the fact that the child has forgotten a test, forgotten a paper, forgotten a project. Every waking hour is spent feeling a sort of pervasive sadness that your child isn't asked to a party, that your child isn't involved in a sports team, that your child doesn't even think to invite a friend over.
It gets pretty overwhelming, doesn't it?
Trouble is, this isn't helpful. Sure, reading the books helps, because you need to understand the situation you're in. BUT, after a while, you learn that you can't physically take in any more information. You've become saturated on the topic of autism, and you shouldn't take in any more data or your head will explode. YOU MUST READ OTHER BOOKS THAT BRING YOU HAPPINESS.
Sometimes we go to support groups, to hear from others which school is the best school, what is the best program, who is the right "expert" to see in the hopes of learning something new. As great as these support groups are, again, one becomes saturated with all things autistic. YOU MUST MAKE OTHER FRIENDS UNRELATED TO AUTISM. It is frustrating, because sometimes these friends don't understand what you're going through. But the very fact that they don't deal with what you deal with on an daily basis can be liberating. You'll find that all of us have our difficulties with life -- and though we don't have the same difficulties, we still all have to find a way to get through the hard times and come out the other side in tact. Friends outside of autism are helpful -- going to dinner or lunch with them provides laughter, and a chance to see how the other side lives.
Do you ever look at your child and think "if only we didn't have to bother with school, we could all be happy"? I think this a lot. When taken out of the school context, I really adore my son. He has so many wonderful qualities. He's funny, he's charming, he's more sensitive to my needs than my other children. He's good looking, he's beautiful, he's easy to be around. Yes, sometimes we don't get his jokes completely because he thinks we can read his mind -- that's ok, when the situation is separated from other people. Eventually he'll explain his joke, and ya know what? It's pretty dang funny.
SCHOOL IS TEMPORARY. Eventually, your child will be out of school. Yes, real life has it's pressures as well, but social pressures will never be as hard as they are in school. I've come to realize that at some point, my son will either have a life of his own, or he will be with us permanently -- and either way, life will become routine and will calm down. It may even be enjoyable. There will be future happiness there. Let's repeat that. THERE WILL BE FUTURE HAPPINESS THERE. It may not be what I had hoped for, or even what I think my son is possibly capable of -- but eventually, we won't have to work as hard, and eventually, the routine and the calmness of regular life will be a sort of happiness.
THAT'S what we are all working toward. Let's not be so hard on ourselves. We parents deserve a break.