Problem number two was that it was not his birthday.
Before Lizzy even got out of bed, I was hearing, "I hate streamers! When it's my birthday I don't want any streamers!" He was running through the house tearing down pink and white streamers my mom had stayed up late the night before to put up. She put up all the decorations at night so when Lizzy woke up, she'd be met with garland and streamers and balloons.
Alex was taking them down faster than anything. Ripping them off the fireplace, trying to pop balloons, smash things, rip streamers and tear the house apart.
I was furious.
"Stop it, stop that right now! Stop pulling those things down right now!"
"NO, I hate streamers. When it's my birthday I DON'T WANT ANY STREAMERS!" He was still running around ripping things down. We had several more negotiations which were to no avail. He was not listening, not comprehending.
|The abbreviated version...|
"Go to your room right now. NOW!" Stomping up each and every step, I drug him up. Furious. He was furious, I was furious, he was still mumbling under his breath, "I hate streamers. Hate them. It's not fair. I don't like streamers. I hate you."
By that time, Lizzy was up. Decorations were down and Alex was stomping around upstairs.
And then nothing was going to go right for him. He didn't like his socks. His pants itched. His food tasted funny. His fingers felt weird. And then his shoes. Oh my fucking God, his shoes. He couldn't find the right pair and he couldn't possible wear a different pair of the exact same kind of shoe. Oh no. He had to have that exact pair, the pair we couldn't find. Never mind we have replicas of the shoes so this doesn't happen but ohhhh noooo, not today. Today, this was the hill he was going to die on.
I tired to help him, smacked my elbow on the cabinet so hard I saw stars. I was furious. I lashed out and yelled at him, "Now what? WHAT? Am I going to have to find your shoes every day? Huh??? What happens when you're twenty? What happens then, am I going to have to find your shoes then? Huh??? Get to the car right now. NOW. I've had it."
I was seething. Furious. All morning he'd been pushing buttons and I'd had it. That was the hill I died on.
This was not how Lizzy's birthday was supposed to go.
And then it hit me. Hit me like a thousand bricks. This is the way it's going to be with us. This is how it is. Autism's in our lives and it's in every part of it, like a nebulous vine, its worked its way into every crack and crevice of our lives. Every part. It's just not Alex who has Autism. It's our whole family. It affects each and every one of us and it affects us all differently.
And for some reason that bothered me. Bothered me to the core. Bothered me that my daughter didn't have a birthday without being affected. Bothered me that for twenty God-damned minutes in the morning I was trying to redo something it took him less than a few seconds to undo. Bothered my that he was so bothered. And most of all? I was bothered that as a mom, I snapped.
You guys know me, you know I try to put a positive spin on things and for the most part I meet our struggles head on with a good laugh. I have to. It's the only way I know to survive. But.
This has me in a place I don't want to be. Mad that I lost my shit and mad that I lost it in front of the kids. Mad that a day I wanted perfect for my little girl, went up in smoke before she was even out of her pajamas.
This is the part of Autism that most people don't talk about, the part where we struggle, where we cry, get angry or we just need a break. Where, as a parent, I can say it never ends. I wouldn't be telling the truth if I only shared the good. Well, this is it, this is the side that makes me want to scream for the hills and scream a slew of cuss words so loud they could hear me in hell and be afraid.
I know he's struggling and I know he's upset. I know this is the start of school and we're all maxed-out. I know that, I get it. But there are days where it all gets to be too much and I don't like it.
This was one of those days.
I only wanted one day. One damn day.
Note: I'm still in a funk and I'm working my way out of it. Please know, I love my son, I do. There are times when I don't love everything that comes with Autism, not to admit that would be a lie. I'm not trying to devalue anyone who is one the Spectrum or who has Autism, I'm simply saying that there are days when this is hard, really really hard.