Excited to see Charlie after his first day back at school, I was greeted with several hits and yelling: “No, Mom! No! No Mom home. Not okay, Mom. Mom go shopping. Right now.”
I was shocked and secretly heartbroken. He has never said anything like that to me before. I could only make light of the situation by joking about his good language, but I desperately wanted to cry as he kept hitting me and screaming. It all stung more than it should have. How can motherhood hurt so much?
The short 30 minutes we were home was filled with protests and complete disobedience on his part, intended or not…I don’t know. He continued with the No Mommy business as well as defied everything I asked of him. I wanted to sink into the couch and wallow, but it was time to leave.
The stress of making it safely to the car began to creep in, paralyzing me as I held the baby in my arms. Charlie was in an unpredictable mood, so an escape into the street was almost inevitable. My breaths slowed to calm the building anxiety as I conquered the question: How can I get all 4 boys in the car safely without Charlie running in the street?
After fighting him for 5 minutes about which car he wanted to bring, I left him inside and ran to put the baby in the car, remaining on guard for Charlie’s escape. He actually stayed inside, confined by the many gates in our home, but even the 2 minutes alone in the house made me nervous.
Once the baby was buckled, I raced through the garage to find Charlie laying on the floor among his many cars. Relief…but now I had to tackle the task of getting him out of the house and into his car seat.
I didn’t have the energy to carry his bucking 40-pound body to the car, so after much debate, I coaxed him to his car seat with a toy car. His mild refusal to let me buckle him in was normal but still enough to get under my skin after everything else.
After a short drive, we arrive at Bounce House Heaven for a birthday party. Usually, he loves this place but not today! He’s kicking and fighting me the whole time getting out of the car and into the front door.
Luckily, my mom wrangles the other 3 boys inside, as I can barely handle Charlie alone at this point, but I know that once the party starts, he will be fine. It’s the journey there that is daunting.
Then as all the other children sit quietly, Charlie begins to roll all over the floor, lick the glass case filled with toys, run around wildly, and continuously attempt to escape through the front door and into the street.
I don’t even know what to do at this point. I’m lying on the ground with him among all these calm children and peering parents. I’m always lost when it comes to situations like this. Spanking and threats are futile. Plus, EVERYONE is watching my next move. He can’t communicate well enough to tell me if something is bothering him, mentally preventing him from sitting down. I feel so lost.
Then they open the doors to the bounce area, and Charlie is off without a care in the world, as happy as can be, but at this point, I’m counting down the minutes until I can go home and unload all my tears and hurt. Why is this so hard? How come I’m not strong enough for this? To avoid a deluge of tears, I paint the most convincing façade of happiness on my face, as my insides churn and ache.
Then the gentleman working the party asks me if he is my son, pointing to Charlie. I shake my head yes. If I talk, I will surely cry. He proceeds to tell me that my son needs his socks on. I want to yell at him, cry, and scream: Yes! Yes, I know!! I have been fighting him forever to keep his socks on, but as you can see, I truly have no control here. I’m so lost!
Oh, I dream of curling into a ball right there, sobbing and hiding from everyone. Instead, I pull the Autism card, because truly something in his mind is telling him that his socks can NOT be on his feet while in the bounce house. This is not disobedience.
After much talk, the worker and I come to an agreement about the socks; then we move to the next room. Charlie tolerates the transition well, but he can not handle the lines and can not comprehend the rules. I can tell he is trying his best, but the unstructured nature of this particular jumping area is too much.
After many unsuccessful prompts and signs, I physically have to yank him from the area. I give up on the party, but as quickly as I begin my goodbyes, he breaks free and moves on. I wish I could break free and move on, but I can’t.
My stomach literally aches from the overwhelming stress. The relentless strain of Autism is physically hurting my body, and I can’t help but think: is this forever? Being constantly on guard for an escape while anticipating every possible safety issue is wearing on me.
I can’t relax as I’m endlessly walking on egg shells, waiting for the next meltdown to knock me off my feet. I am wound so tight in anticipation of anything that will rock our world. I feel like I’m living in a land mine filled with ticking time bombs. One will inevitably blow with or without my misstep.
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