He is so unhinged, crying, fighting with me over every little detail. This fight is due to me asking him to put on sunscreen before he goes to the beach. Yesterday it was changing out of his wet bathing suit.
It’s that time of year I both love and hate, love that he will be going back to his wonderful adapted school and the routine that will help him learn, but hate the anxiety and stress that accompany that last week of school. This year I almost made it the whole week before I lost my temper, and later shed tears sitting in the only room I could retreat to with a lock, the bathroom.
Why oh why is it so hard for him to understand that the things I ask of him are for his own safety and learning? Why does he listen to everyone better than me?
His new names for me when he is angry, Bad Mom. I saw the movie recently of the same name and felt vindicated. I am a Bad Mom sometimes, but we all are. We are doing the best job we can. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we don’t. We need to forgive ourselves, learn, and move on. This not only teaches us about our humanity, but our children too.
What does he have to hit himself, us or break things? All the strategies, social stories and talks we do AFTER he has lost control, seem futile in these dark moments. Am I reaching him? I know him so well, and I am beginning to understand his mind more and more, as much as someone on the outside of autism can. As a writer and parent coach, I remind other parents to go easy on themselves and not blame themselves for everything, yet here I sit doing just that today. I know we are all detectives of our kids and need to look for clues to get where they are coming from. But first, always first, I am a Mom who is tired, stressed and needs a break. I make mistakes. I lose it too. I think I can’t wait for my vacation to begin on his first day of school, while at the same time my heart is breaking thinking of my little boy and all the stress he is keeping in all day to please those around him. I worry about him unleashing all that stress when he gets off the bus on me, but know that I will be ready and strong. I love him and need to remind myself I am his safe haven where he can unleash his emotions.
I know things will get easier as he gets older. Already, I see the temper tantrums are shorter lived than before. I know he will learn how to control his emotions with reminders, tools, and social stories we will continue to read to him. He has even started writing them with me. I know that soon I will exhale again knowing he has adjusted to school. I know I am a good Mom, but my heart still breaks for my son with autism at this time of year because I can’t make it all better.