It has been a stressful week. It is said that moving house is one of the more stressful events one can undertake, and even though I knew that, up until we got the inspection report from our buyers, I hadn’t felt it. When we got the 32 page report and their 2 page list of demands last Friday night, both GC and I were filled with dread. The small petty grievances are an easy fix, yes we will replace the missing screen (it was in the garage awaiting repair anyway.) Yes, we will fix the drywall where you deem it blemished, tack down the transition strip, pop the wheel back into the garage door track, etc. It was the larger items, mold in the attic, cracked truss, window seal failure, and the bit about our furnace possibly being too small for a home of our size that really made my chest constrict. Dollar signs flashed before my eyes as I read through the addendum and I watched what little money we do have slide between my fingers, because in this market, the buyers have the power. After the settlement help we agreed to, paying the realtor fees and state transfer tax, we are not walking away with much, anything really. After being on the market 7 months, our main hope was to break even, have enough money to move (ourselves) and be able to pay closing costs in our new state. So we began working the phone, setting up contractors, getting estimates, and I again dealt with insomnia, and it brought me right back to those early diagnosis days.
The days when my stomach and chest were so tight, so filled with dread and anxiety over the unknown and the monumental task set before me that I couldn’t eat, could only focus on what was directly in front of me, and couldn’t sleep. Every night for the past 5 days I went to bed with furnaces and figures on my mind, watched our meager savings disappear on the backs of my eyelids, and then I awoke an hour before my alarm went off to the same worries and fear. I forgot to eat and in late afternoon when I did remember, nothing appealed to me. GC kept reminding me about our desired end result of this move: family, help, support, and I tried hard to put everything into perspective.
The early diagnosis days were the same, for months I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat, the worry and fear about my 3 year old son canceling out absolutely everything else in my life. I thought about this often during the last couple days, how the stress of the autism diagnosis and subsequent life changes filled my life for at least a whole year. As we gained information, autism friends and allies, set up programming and watched the Roc grow and change, my initial gut wrenching, body consuming anxiety lessened. I learned to channel it into productivity, sometimes, and often at the expense of other things in my life. But it rears its ugly head during times of stress, especially in relation to the Roc, and now during another life changing event. Moving across the country, with the Roc.
But I am working hard to control and contain it, because after all we still have our lives to lead, we still have to parent the Roc. Usually when GC and I are stressed, our parenting skills go down the tubes. But last week, before we got the buyers repair requests and that stress started, we made a pact. We agreed to stay calm and in control of ourselves when he starts to push the limits, we agreed to tag out when we couldn’t handle it and the other person agreed to step up to the plate, and we agreed on a strategy to combat the behavior/control issues we have with the Roc. And I have to pat us on the back, because we have been doing it, and it’s paying off. The Roc has his moments, but we are reacting to them differently and in turn, he is reacting differently. We are able to diffuse situations that used to end in massive tantrums, and I feel so much more in control having a plan and following through with it, and I think the Roc feels better knowing exactly what will happen when he crosses the line. So while the house selling has been stressful, the Roc has been doing great.
So great in fact that I feel a line of communication has opened up between us. It could be that we are handling him differently this week, or he is maturing and we are seeing the beginning of the next stage, or something is connecting within him that he is starting to be able to talk about how he is feeling. It’s amazing. While the Roc finished breakfast the other morning I hurried to take a shower. Not long after I heard him enter the bathroom, trying to avoid the repetitive conversation about monsters we’ve been having lately I reminded him that he was going to bring his street sweeper to school that day to show his class (he is star of the week this week,) and then we had the following conversation:
“Mommy, will my teachers know that I’m anxious about talking about my street sweeper?”
“No sweetie, they won’t know that. You have to tell them and they will help you okay? Make sure you tell them – they will definitely help you. That is part of their job. You can tell any adult in the room how you are feeling and they will help you. Okay? Okay?” I wondered if he was still in the bathroom as I rapidly started shaving my leg.
“Okay Mommy. I will…” I kept shaving, waiting to see if he would say more.
“Mommy I feel better now.” My hand holding the shaver hovered over my leg as I lifted my eyes and stared at the wall.
“Roc I’m so glad. That makes me happy.”
There was a long pause while I kept still and held my breath.
“I like talking to you Mommy.” My mouth dropped open as I continued to stare at the shower wall feeling the water ping off my back. The weight of this conversation started to sink in.
“Thank you sweetie. I love talking and discussing things with you too.”
“You’re so nice to me Mommy.”
I realized I was grinning and I had cut my knee, I started to repeat this exchange in my head, hoping that I could remember it long enough to write it down when I got out of the shower. Then he pulled back the shower curtain and said,
“I have to pee now, I’m going to share your bathroom now, OKAY?” and I laughed out loud.
Before he entered the bathroom I had a running list of all the things I needed to get done that day floating through my mind, all the people I needed to call or follow up with, the dentist appointment I hoped I wouldn’t forget and I had reminded myself to eat. He put it all into perspective for me and reminded me again of what is important. I sent him to school with the reminder to tell his teachers if he felt anxious and then I tackled my to-do list and tried hard to push my anxiety back down in it’s place. The stress can bring back memories of those terrifying early days, but taking a step back to see how far we’ve come, all of us, reminds me to keep my eye on the prize and keep moving forward.
Onward and upward.