Carry On

Filed Under (Acceptance, Adam, Single Parenthood, To Get To The Other Side) by Estee on 14-02-2010

cracked_heart-1802It is Valentines Day. Aside from the red commercial hearts and roses we will buy only because the storefront displays will beckon, I wonder if people will remember fragility. The red hearts may be plastic but the real human ones bear no resemblance.

Today is my official final day in my old home — the home I built with Adam’s father. I did move from it a few days ago — I don’t think leaving precisely on Valentine’s Day would have been easy because my mind tends to brood over such Hallmark things, despite my keen awareness of plasticity. As I said I would in a previous post, I ritualized in my own way. I said goodbye to the rooms, picked out a stone from the backyard. But I couldn’t stay long. It was just too painful once all of my things were gone. My memories are still too recent — Adam and I there snuggling just a few days earlier.

“Someone else lives in the house I thought I’d never leave. And the life I’ve lived in that house, I now speak of in the past tense….The keys now belong to someone else. I can’t open that door anymore, and the place beyond it is now as inaccessible to me as all the life I’ve lived there, retrievable only in photographs, story and memory. Still, while I lived in that house it seemed that my life would continue there forever, that it was as substantial as the sofa I settled into in my study with a cup of tea at the end of each day.” (Excerpted from Louise DeSalvo’s On Moving: a Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts And Finding Home Again.)

IMG00278I created The Autism Acceptance Project in that study. Now, I’ve created a new study where you see me sitting now. I am moving on. Aside from organizing a few things, I am trying to settle in my new home. I feel like maybe I can get back to deadlines, TAAProject and my writing. This evening, my friends and family will gather in my new dining room to help me toast a another new journey in another new home. Again, I believe rituals are so important.

I await Adam to return on Monday afternoon from his mid-winter break so I can help him adjust here. We saw the neurologist last week who believes his spasms have more to do with transitions than anything else. Yet, to be prudent, he must still have the EEG to ensure this isn’t something biological. My suspicion, however, is that Adam has been just as stressed as I have been. According to that infamous “top-life stresses” list, moving and divorce are right up there. Dash in a few other things over the past two years and the plate, as they say, has been pretty full. Being in the new house and taking it in for a few days on my own helps me calm with it, and I need to be calm for Adam. He feels and takes on every emotion I have. As his mother, it’s hard not to feel guilty, but I try to fend that off as it is such a waste of precious energy. I have to teach Adam many things two of which; 1) I am human and, 2) that the only reason we are here is to make the best of what we have. I believe these are good things to teach autistic children — the children we so often say need consistency and structure. While I believe that to be so true, it’s not always the way life goes.

Saying that, I’ve also learned an important lesson on the fragility of the heart and of the roots we think we build. In fact, I think the lesson I was meant to learn was that of impermanence. We all want our children to feel stable as it is an important factor in healthy growth, but I’m beginning to believe that an important gift we can give to our children is to also teach about how things change. “Paint peels, plaster cracks, and gardens, of course, are the most ephemeral constructions of all.” (Louse DeSalvo p. 149). I know we are supposed to keep structure in our children’s lives — particularly autistic children who are so prone to anxiety — but the fact of the matter is that all of life is outside of our control. We take what we are given and polish it. And it’s definitely okay to cherish it too.

“The gleam of a loved house lasts only as long as he who loves it can keep polishing.” (p.149) This goes for all the people we love too.

Happy Valentines Day.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.