Married with Children

I watch from my solo spot in the café, as an old woman and man come to sit in a booth on the other side of the restaurant. He sits down next to her instead of across the booth from her.

It’s sweet.

I think as parents, my husband and I get lost in the whirl of children. Sitting next to one another isn’t possible, because we must divide and conquer. It’s us against them in a lot of ways.

Not some epic battle, but sort of a low grade struggle of chaos versus order, in which we represent order and they (the children) represent chaos.

Maybe its having four children, being outnumbered, that seems to result in this little clash of wills. Maybe its this way regardless of the number of children you have.

But does it have to be that way?

These days, I find myself embracing the chaos more and more. It isn’t the end of the world if we all have wrinkled clothes. I mean, they smell good so that’s winning to me. It’s not just laundry though.

Its accepting the crying and its domino effect. Sitting still in the whirlwind of outcry and despair, being at peace, that is my latest approach. No rushing to appease, no rushing to scream and discipline. Just sitting still.

Sometimes, I watch my husband do the same thing. We just look at each other sometimes and shake our heads. Maybe that’s our equivalent of the old couple in the booth.

Present to each other, despite the rest of the world.

Letting Go…

Evan paces constantly, picking up items and throwing them down in random spots. He doesn’t play. He just moves from one spot to the next bringing items back and forth. Along the way, he’ll fidget with them, trying to feel the textures.

At least, that is what it looks like he is doing.

Anymore, I’ve stopped wondering if there is more too it. Anymore, I am just weary of the constant movement. Just. Sit. Still. Please.

It’s frustrating – to watch him do nothing but this pacing. It reminds me that he’s abnormal, different, other. I have tried in the past to be fascinated with his otherness, to see his differences with rose-colored glasses. Then, an awareness came to me – I’m looking for something that isn’t there.

Cognitive delay.

I have fought with people over this. I have insisted he knows everything we say, that he is smart. Then, I watch as my husband asks him to pick up a toy and he picks up a blanket. I watch as he paces and I wonder how long have I been clinging to something that isn’t there.

I think the difficulty of autism is the unknown. It truly is possible that Evan is smart. It truly is possible that he has cognitive delay. Depending on the definition of smart, he might have or be both.

Then, I realize as I watch him pace that I am doing the same thing as him. Re-walking the same threads of thought, a pacing of the mind.

But I don’t have to.

I am the consciousness that listens to my thoughts – and lets them go. I let go of the unknown. I let go of whether he is or isn’t smart, whether he knows what i am saying.

As I let go, I am set free.

If only he could be too.

Candidly,

Ash

Mysteries of Sadness

The sky is cloudy today and that is how my heart feels. Clouds of sadness come and go.

Why am I even sad?

I wonder if I am the only one who experiences mysterious sadness. I don’t even know where it comes from until I sit with it for like ten hours. Perhaps that is how badly I had boxed in my sadness. I used packing tape on all sides of that box.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when all of my past sadness stops bubbling to the surface.

As I sit with this sadness today, I know it is about being enough. I have seen other children grow so that their autism doesn’t affect things as dramatically as Evan. I have stood next to moms and hashed out the problems. I have done the things they have done.

But he isn’t cured. He isn’t healed.

And I can’t help wondering if it was me.

Maybe I didn’t push hard enough, try enough.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe I don’t have to buy into those thoughts.

But what would that even look like?

I cannot say.

Candidly,

Ash

It Is What It Is

Today, I just feel a bit sad and lonely. Nothing significant is troubling, but I can’t help wondering how life can be so busy and boring all at the same time.

I feel like my days pass by at light speed, but all I have to remember them by is the sense of light speed itself. Sort of like the Doppler effect , but with light. I know things have been happening. I’ve been doing the things.. All that I see is blur, all that I hear is a whirr.

I want my life to be meaningful. Some people say this is a particularly millennial viewpoint and maybe they are right. Yet, I can’t help feeling that most people, millennial or not, want their life to be meaningful in some way.

It *should* be meaningful to raise my kids. It *should* be meaningful to sit and write, creating something. It *should*. It *should*. It *should*.

Today, and for many days prior, it hasn’t felt meaningful.

Perhaps its the *should* of the matter. Assigning meaning based on *should* is probably not a great idea.

The Bible says things like “Everything is meaningless.” or  “Eat, drink and be merry.”

Well, I just don’t like that.

I want there to be purpose. I want things to happen for a reason. Yet, the hard truth of life is that not everything has a purpose. Not everything has a reason or a meaning. Sometimes things just are, because that is the way life goes.

As for “eat, drink and be merry”? Well, I’m overweight and I’ve discussed how I feel about THAT quite a few times. It’s not merry at all.

Does the Bible have it wrong? Or is it just me?

I’ll always wonder.

Candidly,

Ash

 

Real Life

Phew. It’s anxiety today. Man, it’s anxiety a lot of days.

I’m tired of anxiety. I think I’m starting to have anxiety about whether my anxiety will ever pass.

Why does anxiety feel like running around in circles? It feels like I’m running around putting out fires constantly, except there are no actual fires. I’m putting out imaginary fires. THAT is frustrating.

And futile.

Lately, I’ve been longing to have a job besides mom. You know, something to consume my time. The idea of going somewhere, working and having my focus be work is really appealing. I think I’m desiring a way to take my mind off of my family things.

The family things are heavy.

I’m homeschooling our oldest. She had a terrible year of bullying and just needs some recovery time. But, god damn, its a lot of responsibility to parent someone AND make sure they learn algebra.

The toddler toddles and whines and is currently attempting to roll up the 8′ x 10′ rug onto himself. He’ll probably get stuck soon…

I get a call, text, email about Evan every day. It’s okay, nothing too catastrophic, but I feel like I’m the teacher’s personal OnStar representative. Like she can just hit the button and I’m there. I suppose I should implement boundaries. I tried that last year…that’s when he got suspended. Sigh…

I think this just might be life.

Yesterday, Tess asked me “Why can’t things be less stressful?” She was referring to her dance class where she is learning something new every single week. It’s stressful for her. In my sage wisdom,  I responded that she wouldn’t become a better dancer without the stress. Someday, once she knows this whole dance, it will go back to being just fun and free. Until then, its stressful.

Maybe life feels so stressful to me, because I’m learning something new. My new medicine has my mood swings controlled and so I’m finally feeling what I’m told is “normal”. Except it feels damn stressful, because I can feel all the things and numbing doesn’t work like it once did.

But maybe, if I take my own advice and learn to handle this anxiety and stress? Maybe then there will come a time when I can dance the routine of life with fun and freedom.

Until then, I’m just learning how to cope.

Candidly,

Ash

In the Doldrums of Toddler-dom

Today, I wish that I had some sage advice or interesting perspective on raising a toddler. Did you know that you can comfort these little creatures and they will still cry for what seems like an eternity?

I sad. I sad. No. I sad.

This is my morning dialogue with the two-year-old. Its set to the tune of scattered breathing, sniffles and full-on wailing.

What troubles the child?

I gave him fruit loops for breakfast. I have no idea why this is displeasing, but it seems to be the issue. He walks in front of the pantry, bangs on the door, then collapses onto the floor in a fit that rivals the appearance of exorcism.

Why does the answer have to be no? Why can’t I just go offering things up from the pantry like a bonafide waitress?

Some people say that you should always look for ways to say “Yes” to your children. You know, to say yes when you can, because these are small humans here. Their requests are usually simple and accommodate-able. Also, something about picking and choosing your battles.

Others say that children need to hear “No” frequently so they can become accustomed to it. In other words, so they don’t freak out when their parent says ‘No” in public.

Well, these are all really interesting theories of parenthood. This morning, I simply don’t feel that fruit loops should  be boycotted and I don’t want to make a different breakfast. This morning I’m a “get what you get, don’t throw a fit” sort-of parent.

I’m not always this way. Just when I feel depleted, which as of late is a thing. You see, I’m starting to feel a bit held captive here in this house with this small person. Frankly, that’s perfectly reasonable and normal for stay-at-home parents.

I’m sorry, future Rhese, that I wasn’t 100 percent all of the time. At least you learned the lesson of limitations early.

Candidly,

Ash

Learning is Enough

I don’t know what it is about a toddler that just sucks the life out of me. Actually, toddlers aren’t so bad as long as you stick to an exact routine, never leave the house and always give them what they want.

Let’s face it though – that’s not happening.

Today, I’m worn out from yesterday. We attended a four hour pool party with the toddler. Basically, that is my definition of hell. Maybe its my propensity for anxiety, but I’m terrified the child will drown. Add in that he seems to have no fear of anything and that alone could do me in. Added to all of this was the wonderful opportunity to meet new people. This was a kick-off party for the school year. You know, where everyone knows someone and they are reunited. Unless you are brand new, in which case, you get to meet everyone for the first time…in a swimsuit.

Because we all have so much confidence when wearing a swimsuit.

It was {not} great.

My nerves were on edge the whole time. I tried to stick to my health plan. I felt really proud at the beginning when I ate fruit, veggies and humus instead of fried chicken. Then, the bastards, I mean really awesome planner people that I love, brought out brownies and cookies. After consuming a brownie, I realized I had ventured into stress eating to cope with the environs. I pressed on for another hour, but eventually gave up and we went home early.

I’m not proud of how I handled my anxiety. It occurred to me on the way home that not once did I deep breathe or use any of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned. I knew the day would be stressful and not aligned with my health plan, but did I take any steps to prepare?

Nope, not one.

But I’m learning.

Sometimes, it has to be enough to just learn from an experience. I struggle to let it be, but I’m working on it this time around.

Next time?

I’ll set a timer on my phone to take a break in the bathroom every half hour to breathe. I’ll bring a treat that is on my health plan so that I’m not tempted by brownies and cookies. I might even see if someone else can take the tiger, I mean toddler, for the day.

Yes, sometimes learning has to be enough. After all, if I’m not learning, then how am I evolving and growing?

Good things to remember.

Candidly,

Ash