The Down and The Up

I sit on my knees in the hallway, my fingertips pressing into the carpet, the fibers filling the space between nail and skin.  I stare at the wood door in front of me, noticing the grain and the different shades, even in the dim light of the basement.  I hear the distant chatter of my niece and nephews, their feet tapping the floor above my head.  I sigh and close my eyes, my stomach clinches and I push down on the grief that wells up into my chest and threatens to pour out in sobs and tears.  On the other side of the door my son seethes and screeches, shouting out lines from recent books we’ve read and the obscenities he has invented, “Mommy you betcher!  You big mean wonack!”

I think about my good friend back on the East Coast and the question she asked a few of us fellow autism moms just this morning, “Does anyone else feel like the last thread is unraveling?”

When I read the question hours before I felt pretty good (the Roc was in summer school) and I sent her my love and the promise that she was strong and she would get through this time.

Now, hours later, I sit on my knees swallowing my tears as I feel my last threads threaten to come undone.  The rabbit hole gapes open in front of me and I feel myself tipping forward, about to slide down head first.  Depression, anxiety, fear, and grief threaten to pull me down.

I concentrate on my breath.

Finally, after many long minutes it is silent in his room.  I look down at my knees as I grasp the cool doorknob and turn it, push open the door to see him sitting on his bed in the exact same position I had been assuming in the hallway.  I glance at the rabbit hole and step over it.  This is not the time to feel my grief and so I try to push it down and leave it behind as I lock onto his blue eyes, ready to have another conversation about appropriate behavior.

Hoping that the repetition will someday leave it’s learned mark.


During late afternoon the Roc and his cousin Matthew are discussing their outdoor plans, the Roc wants to play in the sandbox, Matthew wants to swing.  I groan inwardly waiting for the Roc to ask me to push him on the swing.  I have been pushing him on the swing since before he was 1 year old, so I’m quite ready for him to propel himself.  I’ve tried to teach him, it didn’t go well, and GC tried to teach him which ended with the Roc stomping away screaming, “I’m never going to swing again!”  I mention to the boys that they can each do what they want, they will still be able to talk to each other and after getting the Roc’s shoes on for him (another independent skill I look forward to!) I head downstairs to put some things away.

Not long after I hear the screen door open and the Roc yell out for me, “Moooommmmy!”  I sigh waiting for him to ask me to push him on the swing and am shocked into stillness when he says, “Come look Mommy, I can do the swing all by myself!”

“No way!”  I exclaim as I glanced around for my phone, thinking that if it is true then I will need to record it, but also not believing he is actually swinging by himself.  My heart is full of hope as I step out onto the patio fully expecting to see him push off the ground with his feet and then sit still.  I grin, lift up my phone, and start recording:

I am ecstatic watching him and I can’t wait for GC to get home and see him swinging all by himself!  I smile as the Roc says “I’m proud of myself for swinging!”

What a statement.

When my sister got back from the store I pointed out back and stage whispered, “LOOK!  the Roc is SWINGING all by himself!”  She asked me if I felt liberated and I laughed out loud.  That’s definitely one way of putting it.

From one end of the day to the other, down in the dumps struggling against my grief to my soul soaring over a hard earned skill.  Down and up, up and down, everyday I’m riding the autism roller coaster…

and people, this ride is no joke.


11 thoughts on “The Down and The Up

  1. This is exactly how I feel every day. Two steps backwards, one step forward. But that one step forward – so big.
    We’re on the ride together, my friend. And we’ll hold on tight to each other to get us through.

  2. this pretty much sums up every minute of my life….one minute I can be calm and tell another mom they can get through, and the next I’m sitting there trying with everything in me to be calm when he incessantly calls my name. He just needs me to respond verbally to him, but every 30 seconds gets old when I’m trying to think, or make a quick phone call about something really important, or frankly take a minute to myself.
    It’s a ride alright….and just when you think you can’t take it another second, somehow they surprise you with something awesome.
    Congrats on the swinging! HUGE deal!!! (soooo hoping mine gets there eventually too!!! I laughed when I read about the shoes and swinging at your house, cause it’s at our house too!)

  3. Tears again – but these are of joy! They started flowing when the Roc said he was proud of himself – as he SHOULD be!!!! Total awesomeness! My little guy just got the hang of swinging himself a few weeks ago too. The little things are just SO huge for our kids, and for us. The ups make the downs a whole lot more bearable. XOXO

  4. It is the scariest roller coaster ever.

    BW would love to have a swing playdate with Roc.

    Wishing you more highs then lows.

    Love you!!

  5. Yay for Rocco! I loved it when he said he was proud of himself. That’s no small thing either!
    I ponder often how we can sometimes be in the valley, the depths of despair one minute and then the next we are shouting from the mountaintop.

  6. You said it perfectly. The highs are so high and the lows are so low. Great job mama! Savor it, even if for just a minute. Xo

  7. Wow, what a beautiful post. I love all the imagery and detail. Good for you for keeping patient enough through a bad detour for you both to be able to celebrate the good times that were around the corner.

  8. Yes, this roller coaster from one hour to the next is so consuming. Thank goodness for the high points to sustain us! And how wonderful that the Roc not only learned to swing, but he could acknowledge the pride of his accomplishment! xo

    P.S. Not sure if you saw the link, but I have a new “blog home” if you’d like to take a look : )

  9. oh yes, such a roller coaster. and the highs seem to come just when we need them. i just love seeing Rocco (and hearing you) celebrate his accomplishment. cheering with you. xo

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