“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.
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….
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.