Monday Minute: Two men look out the same prison bars…
…one sees mud and the other stars. Beck
Yes, I’m aware I missed posting anything last week. Ryan was home and we really eked every last minute out of our precious staycation. In fact, we’re going to start a new photo album called “The Last Car In The Lot,” in which we are the very last vehicle to leave every beach, waterpark, farm, aquarium, orchard… So I wasn’t home to post anything – I was so busy having fun that it just wasn’t possible.
When we got home from an overnight stay in Long Island last week I stumbled across a post by another mom-blogger I follow, about “the truth.” It was then that I realized I had to come clean. Yes, we had a wonderful and busy week. Yes, we were the very last car in the lot every day. But there’s something else I failed to mention. One of the big reasons I didn’t post anything was because I didn’t have anything witty, lighthearted, touching, even sarcastic-but-all-in-good-fun to say about James for a while there last week, and I was just too tired to fake it.
James went to visit family in Albany for the first half of our staycation. I love that he gets the 1:1 attention lavished on him there that is sorely lacking in our house, and also that he is becoming independent enough to sleep away from home a few times a year. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the break, too. As soon as James is gone, the kids ask to buy balloons. Then they come up with a list of movies they want to watch that we normally wouldn’t because they would upset James (Ghostbusters, Beauty and the Beast, Land Before Time, Tarzan). Bedtime is shortened considerably without the lengthy routine necessary for James to go to sleep each evening (plus the fifteen encores he sometimes puts on for us). We’re out the door with little hassle early in the morning, because everyone else gets up before 7am without any prodding (think cattle prod here). I don’t have to battle with James about the ipod, showering, talking back, making gross noises, eating with his mouth open, going to the bathroom, or fighting with his siblings.
Knowing James would be gone for a few days of our staycation, we planned the activities we could do more easily without him. Among them we successfully closed out the waterpark and attended a balloon experiment at the science museum. And when James returned I half-wished – okay, totally wished – he would just go away again by the end of the first day. I know – I truly know – how that sounds. Added to the stress and frustration is always a healthy dash of guilt for feeling stressed and frustrated. And writing it out for the world to see comes with a bit of anxiety about being judged as anything less than “super mom.” But my jokes and touching tributes and advocating somehow seem less sincere without occasionally cluing you in to what else really goes on here. Have you really thought that my lighthearted Monday Minutes, Sanity Savers and resource recommendations were the complete depiction of living with a special needs teenager?
James came home from his trip a mess, both figuratively and literally. Basically anytime his schedule is disrupted, no matter how much fun he had, he struggles. By the end of the first day James had lost his ipod and thrown a full blown tantrum about taking a shower. The next day he had three accidents – at an aquarium, hotel and pool (I’ll spare you the details). In his new wardrobe later that evening he spun himself too hard in a chair, fell out of it and busted both lips open. The following afternoon he had another accident at a farm, which required a full change of clothing in an outhouse. Standing in the bathroom, muttering nasty things to James while I cleaned him up again, I was feeling equal parts sorry for myself, annoyed as hell with James, and guilty for not being the empathetic, patient, caring mother I like to portray myself as most days.
A mere half hour later I watched this happen for over two hours. There is nobody else on the face of this earth who would’ve have entertained Adam for so long except for this kid right here. The moment was nothing less than a gift, instantly reminding me why the work I put into James – often boring, frustrating, disgusting or just plain hard – is also the kind of life sentence I don’t need to fear.
When I look at this picture I can no longer see the mud – there are too many stars in my eyes.