Validation

“Gosh I hope I don’t hear screaming in the background when she picks up, maybe they’ll be out somewhere,” I said to GC as I touched my parents number on my cell phone.

He shot me a look, then slid his eyes back to the road.

“You should wait awhile to call maybe….”

But I couldn’t wait, I wanted them to know we were out of the woods and I was curious to see how the Roc did at my parents house.  I knew they had some fun plans and I was keeping my fingers crossed that he had good behavior and they were able to get out and do those fun things.

“Hey Mom!  We made it out alive!” I said into the phone when my Mom picked up.

“How WAS it?  Did you have a good time?” she asked.

“We had great weather, good campsites, and we didn’t get eaten by a bear!” I replied, listening to the background, not hearing screaming or the constant chitter-chatter that accompanies the Roc where ever he goes.

“Well, how did it go?  I don’t hear Roc, what’s going on?”

“Oh, he’s outside with the hose and your Dad.  He did really good, for the most part.”

Then she went on to detail how they spent their time.  They did a lot of stuff with water as it was very hot, went to the zoo, and a nearby lake to swim.  She tried to do a little of the school work I sent along, but he wasn’t interested.  They stayed busy and he did well when they were busy.

Then she told me about the complete meltdown he had on Saturday.  It was over how many bubbles were in the bucket when they went to wash the car.  One of those little things you cannot predict, and he spiraled out of control.  He screamed and threw the washcloth at her, ripped the leaves off her hosta plants, ran through the yard roaring.  He was red faced and sweating.  It was a big tantrum.

I cringed listening, imagining the things she was describing, hearing that awful guttural roar.  I nodded along as she spoke, watching the sun shine off Lake Superior, the pine trees whipping by my peripheral vision.

“Oh, I know.  I know.  I know just what you mean.” I told her.

“He’s got to be busy all the time, he needs lot of entertainment.  If you keep him entertained doing something he likes, he’s happy.  But if not, or if you cross him, he spins off into space.  You never know when he might just go off.  I didn’t anticipate that bubble thing, when he was melting down, it was a little scary.  He’s like a Gieger counter, spinning, spinning, always spinning.”

“Oh man, I know just what you are saying Mom.”

I watched the water, knowing down to my core, exactly what she was describing.

Because I live it.

The Roc lives it.

Everyday.

She paused and then said,

“I don’t know how you do this everyday Kim.”

“I know.  Neither do I.  I was pretty shredded before we went away.”

I watched the sun shine off the lake and I exhaled slowly.

She GOT it.  Really, really got it.

She lived what I live everyday.

She said it was hard.

So often I doubt myself.  Doubt my ability to parent this child.  Am I doing this right?  Am I missing something?  Is it this hard because of me?  I struggle not to compare.  I feel that I come up short anyway, at least in my ability to be fine with the way things are.  I wish things were easier, for him, and for me.  Then I feel ungrateful and ashamed.  I know that raising typical children is hard, I’ve never said it’s not.  But it is different for families with not so typical children.  I know that some think I’m making much out of nothing when I say that it is harder.  Some don’t like those words, they don’t believe them, they blow them away with the wind.  But I watch, and I know that other families do not live on the edge of complete meltdowns from their almost 8 year old.  I watch, and I know that the constant supervision, the constant attention, the constant entertainment is not necessary in those households.  I watch, and I know that the Geiger counter is not spinning, spinning, always spinning at their house.  I watch, and I know there is an ease in those typical households that does not exist in mine.  I watch, and I know that the other mothers do not have this knot, this constant knot just under their ribs.  They do not prep, and prep, and prep for simple activities, and then still scan the horizon for trouble.

Unless they are families like mine.

But I’ve doubted myself.  Maybe I am weaker?  Maybe someone else would feel differently than I do?  Be stronger, handle it all better than me.

Internally I’ve fought with myself.

“This is hard” vs. “No, you just suck at this”

Until my mother uttered those words.

I didn’t know I had been waiting all along  for someone to say them.  To do what I do, with my child, everyday, and then tell me that it is hard.

“I don’t know how you do this everyday Kim.”

I filled my lungs with air as my eyes skipped across the water.  Inside I felt an overwhelming sense of….

Validation.

***

Thank you Mom.

For being there for me.  For helping me in many more ways than the occasional short (and long) breaks from my everyday.  For loving the Roc and seeing the good, even when it’s hard.

I will be forever grateful.

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9 thoughts on “Validation

  1. IT IS HARD…. VERY HARD…. for all of us. I am glad you got your validation. We all doubt ourselves. Are we loving enough? Are we doing enough therapy? Are we spending enough time on school skills, social skills, etc.? Am I pushing too hard? Am I a pushover? I think all we do it second guess our decisions and our actions at every turn. But, one thing we all have in common….. WE LOVE OUR KIDDOS with every ounce of our being.

    PS. I have started running. It is a great stress reliever. Thank you for that. 🙂

    Blessings!!!

  2. I read this:

    “But I watch, and I know that other families do not live on the edge of complete meltdowns from their almost 8 year old. I watch, and I know that the constant supervision, the constant attention, the constant entertainment is not necessary in those households. I watch, and I know that the Geiger counter is not spinning, spinning, always spinning at their house. I watch, and I know there is an ease in those typical households that does not exist in mine. I watch, and I know that the other mothers do not have this knot, this constant knot just under their ribs. They do not prep, and prep, and prep for simple activities, and then still scan the horizon for trouble.”

    And then I cried. Because you got it so very, very right. Thank you. It IS hard, and sometimes I need that validation too, because I struggle with the very same internal tensions and sometimes outward exhaustion you describe.

  3. Yes, this is it exactly. The heart of the worry and the fear we have as parents. We doubt ourselves, our parenting choices, and yes, our kids are different. Our lives are different. Unpredicatble. Beautiful. Raising any child is hard work, but you so eloquently express what so many of us struggle with.

  4. Crying too hard to write more than “YES!” I absolutely echo Dawn Marie’s comment. And I’m so grateful for your mother’s help and validation. Love you.

  5. I have been MIA at my blog…..too much going on to organize and put into words. I am so grateful you wrote this and again at a loss for words to convey exactly how much it means to know that it isn’t just my house that lives the way we do. ❤

  6. I have never been tempted to plagiarize anything, but what you wrote today makes me want to sign my name right under yours, with the word “ditto,” and send it to anyone in my sphere who needs to understand that I, too, watch, and I, too, know there is an ease in those typical households that does not exist in mine. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you wrote.

  7. Wonderfully said!! You make me cry a lot! My son seems to be exactly the same as yours. Ok, maybe not exactly as when you’ve met one person with autism you’ve met one person with autism, but they are so so similar. I do have 3 other children to compare though… and 3 other children who see the difference…and don’t like it.
    I love what you wrote though because I have the same feelings – am I doing any of this right??? The answer is yes, for both of us!

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