Merry Christmas to you moms! People will say it to you this year at your friend and family gatherings. You won't hear it, you'll possibly acknowlege it, you will be more concerned making sure your child with autism is behaving socially appropriate, or not undressing, or smashing ornaments on a tree, or going into someones room and getting in their bed, or licking all the cookies on a dessert table, or just freaking out because they are on sensory overload because you're on your 5th day of no structure because of school break, and more than likely we showed up having to use dry shampoo and took a hooker bath because we couldn't get a minute to ourselves to actually get a full shower and blow dry in.
The holidays and the weeks before and after bring a lot of strife for us mom's. I personally used to always love Christmas, and I still do, but I dread the holidays with autism. I'm going to say out loud here something that I think most of us think but don't dare express out loud. I don't want to go to anyone's house, it fucking sucks. My kids are overwhelmed, they are ignored, starred at, or expected to pull it together and act "regular" for a little while. Rarely if ever do concessions get made for them, people are loud, music is loud, houses are hot, clothes are expected to be perfect when my kids would rather be in sweat pants and a tshirt. Kids don't play with them, and when my kids try to play with them the "typical" kids usually a cousin walk away, stare, and whisper about them. I have to pack food, clothes, ipads, and bring half of their possessions and creature comforts so I may be able to inhale a semi warm meal (who am I kidding, but I can dream right?) We bring fully charged Ipads, whereever we go and try to make my kids as comfortable as possible.
While we try to engineer a socially acceptable appearance in public and make my kids play or participate, they are square pegs trying to fit into a round hole that I didn't get to help carve out. (Rarely, has anyone asked my opinion of what my kids need) So as we arrive at our relatives homes with our kids meal packed because of a special or limited diet, and listen to everyone "Oh my son was a picky eater, but he ate when he got hungry", or "you really spoil them.", or "you're not even going to make them try the food." We smile politely and cry inside. OMG, I would love to just show up and know my kids would eat the mashed potatoes that you slaved over, and not have to bring half of the contents of our house to keep my kids regulated. Do you know how much easier it would make my life? No they don't they don't know, they don't get it, and they won't and it's cool, I didn't get it either until I was thrown into this labyrinth of autism with no guide.
No one knows how easy it would make your life at the holidays, because everyone is so damned stressed out trying to make it perfect for everyone. So don't feel alone, the beautiful people are just trying to keep it beautiful and we're trying to keep our "real" from destroying their hopes of a beautiful holiday. We try to coexist peacefully, and sometimes it works and sometimes we are leaving in the 2nd care we've brought to a gathering because autism had different plans than listening to our overly shrill family. So some of us spend our holidays home alone with the children we love to the moon and back when all our family is celebrating and having a great time. Sometimes we cry about it, sometimes we're relieved to get away from some annoying people. It's all good, it's really just one day. I
Know that there are a lot of us feeling the same way, doing the same thing. A friend asked my asked my kid what he wanted for Christmas and he said "paper". Yup paper. My friend tried desperately not to look at him like he had 2 heads, and I just had to tell her, it's pretty awesome, I'm not running around like a fool trying to find and over rated over priced Hatchimal that will be broken and forgotten about in 3 days. Paper and Pillows, that is what my kids want and love for Christmas, it is what it is. no it's not the picture that the beautiful people try and sell us. But the smile on my kids face when he opens a ream of paper. I'll take every single day of the week.
My kid really really wants the Nintendo Classic, and Nintendo is such a jacked up company they make like 50 units of the thing before Christmas time, and some jackholes go and buy all the 60 dollar toy and try to sell them for $300 on ebay. I don't play that game, and make up certificates that it'll be delivered later. So we all have our struggles.
So while this season brings and overwhelming trough of emotions good and bad, know you're not alone, your kids aren't alone, and if they want and enjoy the bubble wrap that came in box rather than the gift, the world will not stop rotating on it's axis. Do what you can do, do what your kids can do, make that round hole for yourself, don't make this ONE DAY defining for what you or your kid are and aren't capable of. Try to make the day as good as you can for everyone, including yourself. We moms deserve a smile to have one, we do. Watching my kid open paper is my smile, sometimes leaving early with my other son whose autism is more severe, and the kind no one understands, is my smile, sometimes it brings me tears. But it's just one day. I've come to learn that the family and friends that care about my family and my kids come over on a regular day and don't care that my kid is comfortable in one sock and will only wear sweat pants and has to have all the lights off in the house. Those are the "Christmas Days" that I will take over the manufactured stressful nightmare that the actual holiday can be.
Be kind to yourselves, don't put undue expectations on yourself, your family or your kids, it's just one day. And you know what? This year, my children have stepped up and shocked and surprised me after years of many many lonely tears on holidays. So Merry Christmas, feel the hug I'm giving you. Remember it's just a day, and don't let it get you down.
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