Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Dogs + Tears

I write but don’t hit publish as much as I once did.  Here is a story from last week…

My fingers grasp the knife, the cold meat slick with fat slides under the blade.  Lucy, my sweet black cat circles my feet, chirping and purring, hoping I will drop her a scrap.  The dog softly whines, a spindle of drool hangs an inch from the floor.  The house is quiet.  I am alone (a rarity with a husband who works from home) save the pets who will attack this hunk of meat if I step away from the counter for three seconds.

My eyes scan the recipe as my heart remembers the feeling, the sights, the energy in that room last night.  Images flicker in my consciousness.  My son.  Who opened up in a way I so rarely witness.   I slice and feel the not only everything in the present, but everything from the night before.

I had been watching a dog rescue video from Hope for Paws as the Roc brushed his teeth in the bathroom five feet away.  He walked in and wanted to see.  I let him watch, and his face promptly crumbled as he took in the dirty, terrified dog.  He asked me questions and I answered them honestly.  Tears started to slide down his cheeks and he was overwhelmed.

By big, deep feelings.

“What happened to that dog?  Why does it look like that?  Oh no….  I think I feel bad.  I think I’m going to cry,” he said as he moved to the floor by the door.

His breath came in ragged gasps as he folded his arms across his chest, pulled his knees up, ducked his head.  Hiding. Full of big emotions.  He pulled the door against himself as he pressed back into the corner.

He hid and I coaxed him out.

“I’m here.  I’m here.  I’ll always be here.”  My own eyes filled with tears as I listened to his breath catch.  He was showing a side I so rarely see.  A side I know is there.  Feelings I know are there.  Sadness, despair, empathy.  Yes, empathy.  I lowered the volume on my laptop and slide onto the floor.

“Please come out.  I’m right here.  Come talk to me.”

He raised his tear stained face and I saw him.  Really saw him.  Red cheeks.  Glistening blue eyes filled with sorrow.  So often his true feelings are not seen on the outside.  I have always known everything was there.  Nothing missing.  But he doesn’t act the way people expect him too.  Often his reactions to others emotions and his often his own seem completely inappropriate.  But I know he feels everything.  Even if his face doesn’t match what’s going on inside.

My heart cracked open watching him process what he saw in the video and how it made him feel.

He came out from behind the door and received my hug.  We watched a couple more dog rescues.  He cried some more.  I held him in my lap, marveled at how long his body is getting.  He doesn’t fit on my lap anymore.  He sniffled and snuffled and had to leave the room when he was run over by his emotions.  I worried that I went too far, that we watched for too long.  That the pain and suffering he saw on the screen was too much for his heart.

I got him into bed and in the darkness I tried to unravel what he was thinking.  I asked questions and waited.  Waited some more while he tried to find the words to explain his thoughts.

About dogs and people.  About cruelty and why some people are so mean.  I could see in his face and feel in my bones that there was so much more he wanted to say.  That he couldn’t access the words to tell me how he really felt.

Watching the wheels turn behind his eyes my mind was rusty, full of all the memories of those early diagnosis years when everything seemed insurmountable and I felt impotent.  I used to ache to soothe him when he was a toddler.  When the tears on his cheeks made him slap his eyes.  When my arms and my words were not enough, when I didn’t know what to do.

Laying on the bed I held myself back and waited.  Waited with eyes and knowledge only time could give me.

We are not where we once were.

 

 

 

Quiet

I feel a little guilty but swallow it down as I pull on my big winter boots.  I shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving the house, for wanting an evening to myself.  I know that GC doesn’t feel guilty when he leaves the house multiple times a week to pursue his hobby.

I am just pursuing quiet.  Space.  Time for myself.

Can the pursuit of quiet be a hobby?

I have been craving quiet.  After spending eight days in Arizona with the Roc and then coming home to two days off of school because of wind chills that would literally freeze the skin off your face…I am in need of some quiet.

I stuff my laptop and kindle in my backpack, pour some coffee into my travel thermos, say goodbye and leave.

The sky is grey, the pale yellow sun drops into view at the end of a line of clouds, hanging onto the edge, then suddenly it is below the horizon.  The street lights come on, eliminating the dirty snow thrown into huge piles along our street.  The Roc waves to me behind the wood blinds.  I wave back, extra big, as I start down the street, not knowing if he can see me.  I turn the corner and my mind is still full of him.

Full of his words and the look on his face as he came through the door this afternoon, “Mommy…I have some bad news.”  Of the conversation I had with the school social worker about the incident at school, the “bad news.”  I imagine the scene, the snowball hitting his face, his anger, and all the comes after.  Him getting to close too the other kid.  “In his face,” I was told and then getting pushed.  “Pushed over,” the Roc told me.  I imagine the shove, the Roc falling through the air, his anger and embarrassment, and all that followed.  The screaming, the rest of the third grade filing into the cafeteria to witness his undoing, how it felt to be so out of control…

My mind is full of him.  It always is.

I need some quiet.

Some space.

Some time for myself.

The library is blissfully quiet as I enter.  I make my way to the back, to the tables with outlets, and set up.

2014-01-29 18.29.07

I go through my photos from Arizona and smile.

My mind is still full of him.

But I’ve found the quiet.

The Roc and I escaped the Minnesota deep freeze and went to Arizona to visit my parents last week.  We were there for eight days.  Eight days of no alarm clocks, lots of hiking, sun, geocaching, sun, eating, plants vs. zombies, sun, and (almost) daily margaritas.

But first we had to get there.  A midnight snow storm made for slow going at 3:30 am when we left for the airport.  Luckily we got there with plenty of time.  Enough for the Roc to get some quality time playing plants vs. zombies on his iPad (a new obsession.)

2014-01-18 05.51.18

Soon enough we were on our way.

2014-01-18 06.45.29The Roc was so excited when we touched down in Arizona.  “YAY!!  Now let’s GO!  NOW!” was what the passengers surrounding us were subjected to after we landed.  It was loud and we were in the very back of a very large plane.

On the drive to Tucson we stopped at Casa Grande National Monument outside Phoenix.

IMG_2856

IMG_2869The Roc was not used to the sun and he was feeling the effects of getting up at 3 am.

IMG_2872He actually fell asleep in the car for a bit.

2014-01-18 14.35.02We spent the first couple days taking it easy, walking around the neighborhood,

IMG_2897playing a little plants vs. zombies,

IMG_2907going for a short hike,

IMG_2922and to eat downtown–where I had a yummy prickly pear margarita!

2014-01-19 15.06.53The Roc got to climb in the empty fountains.

IMG_2956

IMG_2976Then we got busy!

On MLK day we hiked to the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area, which was once a prison camp and then an internment camp during WWII.

IMG_2995

IMG_2998(A geocache)

IMG_2990

IMG_3002

IMG_3006(Another find!)

We also went to Sabino canyon, a favorite of the Roc’s, specifically for the water.  We rode the tram in and then walked the 4 miles back out.

IMG_3084

IMG_3116

IMG_3121

IMG_3131(I told the Roc to see if he could run up this giant hill at the end–he did!)

IMG_3148

He also found a geocache!

IMG_3141Something new we did was a cave tour and a hike at Colossal Cave Mountain Park one day.

IMG_3161

IMG_3167

IMG_3173

IMG_3176

(The boy can HIKE)

After a picnic and another geocache,

IMG_3212we spent one afternoon at the Desert Museum where the Roc asked me to take his picture,

IMG_3231

just like he did a few years ago.

IMG_4792

At the museum I finally get to see the coyote,

IMG_3251

catch a sweet shot of a hummingbird,

IMG_3283

and get a picture with my boy.IMG_3246We had one overcast day and we took the Roc to Coldstone Creamery and then for a short hike at Saguaro National Park.  The Roc was super silly and I couldn’t get him to stand still for a picture with my mom!

IMG_3323

IMG_3335

His silliness went away a mile later when he got a very small splinter in his hand and he spent the rest of the hike agonizing over it’s removal, which my mom was able to do when we got back to the car–thank goodness for a Grandma who hikes with a first aide kit!  (I have no photographic evidence of the splinter.)

On our final day in Arizona we went for a long hike and I soaked up the sun, knowing that we would be heading back into sub zero temperatures the very next day.

Gabe Zimmerman trail head.

IMG_3387

IMG_3384Lest you be fooled by all the smiling photos in this post, the Roc fell apart at the turn around spot on this hike.  He had complained of hunger and so my mom and I sat down with him to eat while my dad went on to find a geocache.  When my dad came back, after finding the cache, the Roc lost it.  He wanted to see the “treasure” and proceeded to sit down, scream, and throw his hat and some rocks.  He was disappointed, sad, and frustrated that we wouldn’t go on so he could see what my dad had found, and instead we were heading back to the car.  We had a long way to go, over 3 miles, and we needed to start back to make sure we got there before the sun set.  I felt for him and was frustrated with myself as I had a feeling he was going to be upset when my dad came back and he realized he had missed out.  He wasn’t happy for a lot of that hike back, but eventually he followed close to my dad, and I didn’t hear most of his tirade.

IMG_3360We were bound for home the next day and the Roc and I were both sad to leave.  He was happy to have a treat at Starbucks near our gate at the airport,

2014-01-26 11.22.59and play plants vs. zombies while we waited to board the plane.

2014-01-26 11.59.42Which is what he did the whole way home.  I tried to get him to watch a movie, but he would have none of it and continued to play the game, while wearing headphones–which caused him to very LOUDLY exclaim for me to, “LOOK AT THIS!” and “WATCH THIS!” jolting me and the poor couple seated in front of us.  But I reminded myself how I had to entertain him by reading books, doling out snacks and crayons, and watching movies with him when he was younger and we flew across the country, and I felt a little better about the loud exclamations.

2014-01-26 12.26.42We landed and were both shocked by the below zero windchill!

2014-01-26 16.59.54

Back to real life and our routine!

Did you hear?  It’s been really cold!

The Roc didn’t have school on Monday and Tuesday due to the cold.

And we couldn’t go outside.  At all.

This coming off winter break.

Oh my.

How to survive?

Keep busy.  Or try to…

I will freely admit to watching moviesIMG_2838and playing on the iPad.  (Can you say Plants vs. Zombies obsession?)

IMG_2805

The Roc also slept in a bit and I was happy to have him be my alarm clock.  Even if he was a bit louder and he only “rested” for about two minutes when I let him get in my bed…

2014-01-07 09.04.12

The Roc did help me bake some cookies.

IMG_2798

IMG_2800

IMG_2802We balanced out those cookies with fruit/veggie smoothies.

IMG_2807

IMG_2812

IMG_2815The Roc did a few craft projects from the art kit he got for Christmas, he colored in his coloring books, and as a grasp at straws I had him glue all those box tops onto some sheets to send into school.

IMG_2844I still think that GC may have found it hard to concentrate when the Roc visited him at work…

IMG_2789

IMG_2790

But he was nice enough to make pizza for us.

2014-01-05 18.12.27

He also took the dog outside so I wouldn’t have to.  (What a guy!)  (The poor dog could hardly walk in these wind chills.)

IMG_2821

How did I stay sane?

I spent some time in the basement with this guy on Monday,

IMG_2822

then I watched Jane Eyre while running on the treadmill yesterday,

IMG_2827

and I kept my eye on weather.com to make sure we were going to be approaching zero degrees on Wednesday, which would mean school’s back in session!

Yay!

My wish for the Roc in 2014 and beyond.

May I work to find and foster connections for him so he can have acceptance, with himself and from those around him.  May those who encounter him not just accommodate him, but celebrate him, for he is worth celebration.  May those who work with him find joy in the process.  May he be loved, not because of obligation, but truly loved, for he deserves nothing less.

I will build the Roc a family of relatives and friends who accept him, celebrate him, and love him.

Inspired by words written by an autism mama friend.  Words that have stuck with me since I read them a few short months ago.  Words that I wrote down, because we all deserve as much:

“At the end of the day, there was so very much to be grateful for. But this — this is what I will remember most.  Not just tolerance, but acceptance. Not just accommodation, but celebration. Not just patience, but joy. Not a sense of obligation, but LOVE.”

If only we could all have this.  If only it were easy.

My wish for the Roc will take more than a year.  It will take more than 2014.

It will take me a lifetime.

It is worth working for.

He is worth everything.

My wish for me

The word balance was something I pondered all year long in 2013.  It was my word.  I kept reading it, seeing it, hearing it, thinking it, practicing it.  I thought about it in regards to most aspects of my life.  My time, how I spent it, what I focused on, what I gave priority to.  Time for me, the Roc, and GC.  Time for friends.  I paused many times this year to try to find the balance in my relationships, as well as my own emotions regarding those relationships.  My anger, my sadness, my grief, my frustration.  I let myself feel them all this year, and I tried hard not to get stuck in the rabbit hole for too long.  I thought about balance in terms of money, how I managed our family budget and also the Roc’s budget and services.   I thought about balance everyday with the Roc.  Being the mom and being the therapist.  Being a caretaker and being Kim.  How much to push, how much to play, how much to teach.  How much therapy is too much?  I thought about balancing my diet and how much I exercise, and how running keeps my mind more balanced.  I did a bit of yoga and found myself thinking a lot about balance as I literally balanced on one leg.

The word revealed itself to me over and over again, and I found myself whispering it over and over again throughout the year.

Balance is something I am going to keep being mindful of in 2014 because there are things in my life that are still unbalanced.

We are a work in progress.

When I think ahead to 2014 the words peace and let go keep showing themselves.  Keeping the peace, finding time to be still and content, finding some peace within myself for mistakes I’ve made, and especially being at peace with things I cannot change.  The last one is huge for me.  There is so much I cannot change.  Maybe it’s the holidays, the images I see online of my friends and how happy they all seem to be, and how our Christmas day was not picture perfect.  Maybe it’s the weather, being stuck inside that clogs my brain, stirs up the longings of my soul.  But lately I feel the differences of my little family are amplified in my mind.  Our differences have affected every aspect of my life, whether I work and contribute financially to this family, how I parent, who I know, how we spend our time and celebrate holidays, my friendships, and my relationships with family.  So much good has come from our differences.  I feel a strength and a depth I had never known, and I am richly blessed by the people in my life.

But I still need to let go.

Accept.

Find peace with the situations that are not as I had hoped or dreamed.  It is my biggest personal challenge right now.  The lesson I am working through.

So as I continue to balance, both arms stretched out, my hands in two worlds, I am going to work to find peace for myself in 2014.

And let go.

I wrote about our Christmas Eve, which was very relaxed and very happy.  Now for Christmas day…which was both happy and…not.  The Roc was so excited when he woke me up to tell me Santa had come, that there were presents under the tree.  I knew that he went downstairs and checked out all the gifts before coming to wake me.  I noticed the light on and heard the paper rustling long before he appeared by my side.  I laid in bed smiling, waiting for him, loving the magic Christmas can bring.  GC and I got up, took care of the animals and got some coffee before we allowed the Roc to start opening.  He was ready!  I so love that smile!

IMG_2709

Santa brought him a lot of the things he had asked for.

IMG_2717

IMG_2712

IMG_2718

and he was thrilled.  We had a nice breakfast together,

IMG_2729

but not long after the day began to unravel.  I didn’t take another picture on Christmas day until the very end, before the Roc went to bed.  I felt so bad for him and truthfully, for me too, by the end of the day.  He was done and feeling bad, and frankly so was I.  We both needed the day to be over.

IMG_2731

Here we are a few days later and all I can comfortably say is that the second half of Christmas day involved a lot of screaming.  There were some time outs, a room destroyed and put back together, and many strong emotions.  Anger and frustration along with sadness that the Roc feels so volatile, because I know it cannot feel good to lose control.  There were happy moments too, clinking glasses and saying cheers with my parents over lasagna, and knowing that they “get it.”  They love us, love the Roc unconditionally, are not bothered when things go south, for that I am so grateful.  Also, it’s always nice to hear that you are doing a good job, you are a good parent, even when you feel the opposite.

Sometimes this gig is hard.  That picture above cracks my heart.  I so deeply wish that things were easier for the Roc, and sometimes, selfishly, for me too.

Next year we will try again.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers