Monday morning and J is happy. The weekend has become a hiccup, albeit an entertaining one, in his routine. Early this morning he swept and mopped the kitchen, took the plastic bottles to the recycling buckets in the garage and then went up to make his bed.
Once he was done, he pointed to his iPod and said MUSIC; soon enough I could hear the Spice Girls (yes, I KNOW…) piping up towards the kitchen balcony where I was hard at work transplanting a sweet potato vine that needed more space. I had hung some old curtains from the edge of his patio umbrella, and J was happy to not be squinting for the first half-hour or so of being outside.
TGG came home from work and had breakfast while we chatted about his night. Then we headed upstairs; TGG was getting ready for bed and I was going to straighten up our bedroom and make our bed. I stopped at J’s room first. The daring young man with the bouncing Slinky had not only made his bed but had also drawn his curtains to let the sunshine in…life is good. I was happy with how well he has adjusted to doing things on his own, with little to no supervision on our part.
I know the bed is not made to perfection. I asked him to make it…I didn’t ask for hospital corners. His room looks like “his room,” not like it’s been plucked out of Better Homes and Gardens to sing the praises of my housekeeping or decorating skills. J made his bed. I almost cried.
The few feet from his door to ours were a time for me to reflect on how well we’re doing. Yeah, we’re doing great. J now comes up to me and says things like EAT when it’s time for his snack. J “shops” for his snacks from the pantry, and doesn’t overdo it or get upset when I make him choose between one thing or another because having both would be an embarrassment of riches. J asks to do his Wii run and then helps me set a timer to wait for 10:30. Our groove is official…and it works.
That’s what I thought of as I walked down the hallway. It’s a short hallway so I thought pretty fast. And then I stopped in my tracks…
Here I was, getting ready to make our bed, and it was done. As imperfectly as J’s, but made nonetheless. One less thing for me to do. As Dada said when I e-mailed him the picture: “hey, it’s better than when I do it!!!”
TGG, on seeing this, said “YOU didn’t make it?” I laughed and said “really? You know me so little that you think I’d make the bed all askew???” He laughed and said “maybe you were tired?” No, I didn’t make the bed, I told him…your brother did. We both stood there, smiling, and then I went to get the camera. (What? YOU don’t take pictures when things like this one happen in your home???)
For the record, I didn’t re-arrange the bed to suit my idea of how it should look. I left it as is, and then I came down to the deck and said/signed to J “you made my bed! Thank you so much! It looks BEAUTIFUL!”
I would post a picture of his smile when he heard that, but I admit I started crying and couldn’t take one. The kid swept and mopped the kitchen, made beds, helped with the dishwasher and then made sure I vacuumed the stairs (because I’d put it on the calendar for the weekend and forgot)…what else can I ask for? Really?
There are days (and I know we all have these) when I wonder if I’m doing all I can, and if it’s working at all. There are days when J is more “connected” than others, more independent, easier to guide and teach. There are days when we are both ready to scream as we run towards the hills. I don’t think this is exclusive to parents of autistic individuals, but I do believe it is more keenly felt from time to time.
Today I feel like it’s been worth it. Today all my sudden inspiration to tackle a task in a different way, to repeat and repeat and repeat ad nauseam the things that end driving both J and I almost nuts…all that seems absolutely reasonable, logical and productive. Tomorrow I might be ready to pull my hair out all over again, but right now…at this particular moment, I am feeling pretty friggin’ cool and happy.
Look, I know it’s not like I won the Triple Crown (starting with “I’m not a horse” and ending with “seriously!”,) or found a cure for anything, but we do do a lot. Take a moment right now to ask yourself what things you do that you are pretty proud of, and you’ll see there’s plenty. It just doesn’t make headlines, get into glossy magazines or gets you featured in any of the morning shows. In fact, a lot of the time, we -the relentless mothers of the challenging and wonderful kids that belong to the overlooked population because they don’t look or act like other kids- do a lot, and we are inventive and determined and creative and we rock…
Yeah. We totally rock.