X is sitting across me - we are waiting for a call from one of our suppliers
She is talking about how busy her evening today will be
"They are delivering a whole truckload of mulch today ... Y's ( her DH ) ankle is still in bad shape so guess who will be spreading the mulch ? me! ... And then I have to get the kids dinner and their school lunches packed for tomorrow?"
"Busy evening!!!" I sympathize. "I have nothing much tonite .. just play therapy for R ... I really need to get on top of things . Its so tempting to vegetate in front of the TV ?"
At the mention of my special needs world, X quickly blushes
( Its an interesting reaction I see, often from parents of normal kids - a sort of a survivor guilt )
" I dont know how you do it .. I really should not complain to you.. ... i just dont know how you do it"she says apologetically
I am thinking about what J is saying and wondering whether Autism has really made my life that much harder
Before R was born, I had little knowledge or interest in children.
As soon as I held R for the first time - everything changed
R is the only child we knew well and we learned how to parent him - from him.
Perhaps all parents do
When we were expecting him, one of the most fun things we did was to make a really cute nursery for him.
We used all the very whimsical "Humphrey's corner" design.
We read up on scheduleed feedings and scheduled sleep.
Discipline from the start is best, we would say.
This will not be a child-centered home, we said
But once we had him, we knew we would never be able to be strict with anything!
So the expensive crib remained untouched as we realised that the only time he slept peacefully and long was when he was touching us.
We will co-sleep for just the first few weeks we said.
Then we said, maybe just a few months more
Then we rationalized and said to ourselves
lets us wait a year ... just till he is a toddler then we shall tempt him with a cool toddler bed !!
So the nursery was never slept in ( and is now his therapy room.)
And R has stayed in one of our arms every night
Even this morning, 4 years later, as the alarm rang at 6, I lifted DH's hand and put it on R's back. Knowing that if he feels his Dad's hand he will sleep long and well
Not just while sleeping, but even during the day R always seemed happiest when he was physically touching us all the time
And so we kept him attached to us. pretending we were planning to be "attachment parents" all along.
I did houswork like a kangaroo with R in my Baby Bjorn Pouch
And I went for walks with him attached
R was always uncomfortable in crowded social situations.
My close friend's wife and I went into labor the same day and since our kiddos were the exact same age - we decided to have their first birthday together.
E was thrilled to be the center of attention but R was miserable.
As soon as he could, R toddled to a far corner and was only happy when he was alone with DH
I ended up opening all of R's presents and he showed no interest in them
In parties, through the years, we looked for calmer places
In picnics with friends- and we went on so many - he was much happier when he was able to get one on one time with one of us. Never alone but away from the crowd.
"I am starving - let me eat first - then I will take R and then you eat"
I would bargain with DH when we would go out for dinner
( Here I must mention that, R was never illmannered -Just uncomfortable and stimmy)
Right from the day he was born we have been parenting to R and his special needs ( in the way perhaps that all parents do - as dont all kids have special needs ? )
Interestingly , DH and I are quite exhausted by normal kids - we know nothing about how to parent them and are always wondering how these parents seem to answer incessant questions, interrupted conversations, shrewd negotiations so effortlessly -( perhaps all our kids are training us ?)
" There is nothing so special about what we do " I tell X
And its the truth.
For us there is only one child that we know how to be mum and dad to.
And that child is R.
That's how we do it