The Path of Least Resistance

Filed Under (Joy, Parenting, Single Parenthood) by Estee on 06-04-2011

I’m a horrible mother. This thought entered my mind early Monday morning. Adam left for school. I leaned down and he smiled at me and kissed me goodbye, puckering his blushed lips, looking into my eyes. “Don’t forget to carry your lunch bag,” I urged, trying to teach him to become as independent and responsible for himself as possible. He grabbed the blue handle brusqley and walked out the front door in his spring jacket. At nearly nine years of age, he looks like a little man with a miniature brief case. He turns around, revealing a glimpse of soft skin. “I wuv you mummy, yes. B-bye.” I closed the door and headed to the window to wave the way I always do. Adam looked up at me as the car pulled away.

Adam’s birthday was a week away — a few days from now as I write this. It was March Break a couple of weeks ago and he was with his dad. We alternate that holiday every year and it was my time to do my own thing. Am I supposed to have fun? Am I supposed to fall in love again and rebuild my life? It’s so different being a single mother.

I panic, noting the date in my head. Which friends do I invite? Adam doesn’t get invited to very many play dates. Instead, we do programs and school. During programs he at least receives the attention and assistance he needs. There is structure. At least he is happy, but I’m missing him when he is in those programs. I still wish he had friends who came over to visit him in his own home. Adam and I are so dependent on each other for friendship.

Then there is our issue these days of him being terrified going to new homes. We have to work on that the way I said we would a few months ago. We have to visit friends on weekends, for ten minutes or so at a time, at least that’s my plan. We could work our way up to more time and voilà, Adam will be used to new homes. Why haven’t we done more of it? Parenting is tough work, period. It’s also important to enjoy our children. I think it has to be stated even more so when there is such pressure for us parents to be super-charged teachers or “warrior moms (and dads).” We need more balance in terms of what our roles should be and the supports we and our children deserve.

Right, there’s the PECS I have to print out. The team told me I have to label more around the house — they give me a lot of tasks.  More schedules. Safety rules to teach, the phone skills he needs to learn now. I’ve managed to at least put the PECS on the phone. It’s waiting to be programmed. There was that four page instruction list of OT recommendations for evenings in order to keep Adam organized and ready him for bed. There is the homework we do — at least I’m good at  that, piano practice. Adam is exhausted by the end of a long school day and likes to entertain himself on YouTube for a while. But we have so much work to do….

I’m exhausted by all this planning and coordinating of people. I’m guilty that I’m exhausted, some days, and wonder if I’m a good enough mom. I should be teaching him more on the iPad, his Vanguard — crap, I forgot I have to do that too and program it. Then there’s typing, reading books and comprehension questions I have to ask him every day. Reading an article in the Globe & Mail yesterday, Autism: Tracking a Decade of Treatments, and Dr. Cummings states that treatment includes looking “at the role of parents in working with their kids at home.” Holy *&^6. I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade and you want to lay on more?

The reality is, Adam comes home from school, eats his snack, likes to hang around me leisurely in my office or in the kitchen. We do homework, a bit of music and music comes easily to us. He sits beside me and we play duets and it feels like the path of least resistance when we are simply relaxed, doing stuff together. Later, has a shower and winds down for bed. I mean, how much time is there really in the day to be super autie mom? Heck, forget the autie part. There are some moms who home school and nurture genius. Maybe I’m just not one of them. Life has changed.

I try my best, even if some days I feel my best isn’t good enough. They are moms who run those PECS off every day at their computers. They are moms who crack the whip so their kids learn to type and publish books. I try to just keep things moving, negotiating with people in the background, but who are in the foreground of Adam’s life. For me, that’s a full time job right now. I’d guess that for all of us it is.

It hits me. I’m learning my limitations as a mother and as the person I am. I’m learning what I need to do and how to do it so that there is abudance of happiness, not stress, in my home. My laundry list of worries is part of my awakening.

I’m really good at the most important part of mothering Adam. That is, loving him. Lately he calls my name a whole lot more. So I guess he knows it. At least I know it too.

Party time.

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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.