Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Race to a Meltdown

Maybe it's the fact that my house is a wreck.  Again.  Maybe it's the fact that I have been getting very little sleep, even less "me" time, and not eating well.  Maybe it's the fact that I haven't had chocolate in, oh, about 6 hours now.  Maybe (probably) it's the stress of planning my 4-year old's birthday party and worrying how my autistic 2-year old will deal with said party.  It's probably a combination of all these factors, along with the ever-present financial concerns of therapy, but I just feel DONE tonight.  As high as the highs are in this whole experience, the lows are just as extreme.  I guess it's the nature of the beast - as no two autistic individuals are the same, neither are two parents of those autistic children.

I wish I could be one of those people who look at the situation as simply the way things were meant to be, and deal with it as it comes.  We all know that mom, right?  What I like to term the Michelle Duggar (bless her heart) mom.  The woman who always has a smile on her face, who ALWAYS uses her patient, loving "inside" voice to impart sage words of wisdom and guidance to all God's children, including the twenty or so (I'm counting the husband) she calls her own.  Contrast that with my method of patience, teeth gritting, more (slightly less patient) patience, stern warning, time-outing, attempting-to-explaining, releasing from time out-ing, exasperation, MORE time-outing...well, you get the picture.  And this is just the method I use for the husband (okay, just the 4-year old, but they're remarkably similar).  All of this while eyeballing and analyzing every move the 2-year old makes, keeping up with therapy methods, getting our oldest settled with school, etc.

I feel like the worst parent in the world for admitting this, but I'm kind of dreading my big boy's birthday party.  I'm looking forward to it too, but that's mostly why I'm dreading it.  In my grand plan, my little boy (who's not a baby anymore, even though I'm trying not to think too hard about that) has a perfect day, with all of his best friends coming, getting the perfect mix of kid and parent-friendly toys (I hate you, Play-Doh) and his Mommy and Daddy being able to make this day all about him.  In reality, although his little brother loves him to itty-bitty pieces, Caleb will probably take one look at the large-ish assembled group of people, another at the unfamiliar surroundings and lack of his favorite distractions, and commence freak-out mode.  Usually, this involves him planting his hands firmly over his ears and clinging to me tighter than one of Snooki's dresses, throwing in a distressed whine now and then for good measure.  So, I'll probably spend the length of the party watching Cade from the sidelines, trying to do anything I can to distract and/or settle Caleb, and worrying about everyone else's reaction to his behavior.  The attendants at the party will attribute his crying to just another spoiled toddler with an ineffective parent, and I will feel miserably guilty for not being able to give Cade all the attention he deserves.  My husband will do everything he can to help (including attempting to soothe my nerves), but in meltdown mode, only Mommy will do.  With all the progress he's made, all the FANTASTIC things he's doing, outsiders will see him only as that little autistic boy, poor thing.

I don't know why this situation will be different than the other night at the car dealership, but it will be.  Maybe it will be the smaller space of a party-venue, maybe it will be the fact that he's familiar with these people--they are not just strangers passing by, but people who love and care about him, and will therefore attempt (with the best intentions imaginable) to interact with him when he is NOT in the mood.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this.  I hope and pray that everything will go well.  We're on a roll here lately, right?

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