I’ll be sharing personal essays on my journey with autism with my daughters, mom life, grief and mental health. I hope they make you smile, I hope they make you cry, I hope to spread an understanding of high functioning autism and mostly I hope they allow other moms to not feel alone. I’d love your feedback! Names have been changed for privacy.
Click on the Essays category to read past ones.
I’m starving myself. Let’s just fast forward that marathon suicide why don’t we, get it over with. When I get tense, as in super tense, I don’t eat. My body goes into some sort of survival mode where it conserves energy, I only feel like laying down and I do not want the taste of food on my lips. A mind inflicted fasting takes place. I had a small breakfast and that’s it and I can’t stomach more than water. Maybe it a good thing, my body needs a fasting, but this doesn’t feel like a virtuous decision because it makes me tired and cranky and I have no tolerance for anyone’s crap. I want to go back to bed but I need to get myself ready for work and the girls ready for a day with the babysitter. They only have a couple more days off for summer vacation and I’m working all of said days. I want to moan and cry. When can I get that padded room up and running in the basement? I need somewhere to go and physically get out my stress.
Everyday life moving parts necessitate taking life hour by hour, never mind day by day. I need to put my family first. A new school year goal for me is to recognize and know I can’t make everyone happy; I am not pie. I’ve been a big old baby and crying every day from my deep emotional state. Sometimes I cry in front of my family, sometimes at night when I can’t fall asleep and even sometimes while sitting alone in my closet, like I did as a child. Funny how I revert to childhood ways when I’m feeling depressed. My life has reverted to my blankie and the fetal position. My journal pages are wrinkled from dried tears. Writing has been a comfort, but it also brings out the depression as I see my life written out on a page before me and dream of my running commercial of happiness existing all the time. Same thing happens with praying. Maybe it is time to change how I pray and maybe only write about the happy times.
I’ve been giving myself morning pep talks, pretending I’m calling on my higher self. Her name is Super Sarah. Super Sarah can get through the busy day, feel confidence and strength. My brain is the villain and my heart is the hero and Super Sarah doesn’t overthink, she just over loves. Goals.
“OK Super Sarah, I give you permission to show up, love up and keep your head up high, like you just finished the most amazing apple pie and then maybe actually go eat one. This starvation helps no one,” I whisper to myself in the corner of the kitchen as I wait for the babysitter to arrive so I can speed off to work.
“Girls, everyone dressed, and teeth and hair brushed?” Silence.
“What!?” Olive screams from her bedroom. She hates when I’m loud. Laurel and Ruby are probably engrossed in some activity and didn’t even hear me. Funny how they can tune me out completely even when I’m standing close by. I could even start choking to death and collapse on the floor and those two girls wouldn’t know what happened. Why do I let my brain go to dark places like that? Is that normal? Hopefully.
I don’t have time to nag them to get ready but since they don’t have to rush off to catch a bus, I’m leaving things as they are. They might as well be able to enjoy being lazy for a little more time. A pajama day is exactly what I wish I could have right now too. I’m already dreaming of the weekend, which is Labor Day weekend, three days off, yesssss. My plan is to make it a point to keep weekends for family fun and Soul Fuels. Michael is on-call all weekend so I’ll be running solo with the girl gang and that makes it easy to slip into a lazy, bum around the house mood. That’s both good and bad. I always have a day of laundry to do, the insane amount of laundry I do! Laurel insists on wearing new pjs every night and I wonder what she’s doing in the middle of the night to necessitate tons of laundry. Olive can only wear plain white tube socks, I’m guessing a sensory sensitivity thing now, but they always seem to be dirty. We should really buy more.
The weekends have become more about prepping for the upcoming weeks’ chaos instead of being fun and adventurous. Michael spends his extra time stressing about the yardwork, trying to finish his doctor notes from the previous week and prepping his lunches for the next five days. God love him but that leaves zero time for anything else. I’m fighting a rebellion against weekends contributing to depression traps. We must have intentional time for family fun and relaxing and nurturing our Soul Fuels to refresh our minds.
I do not feel like going into work today because I don’t know which way is up or down and I tend to get stagnate and freeze up when that happens. Preschool Director life this week has been a roller coaster, a windy twisty one that flips me upside down over and over again. Opening up for the school year for a preschool should not be so complicated. Teacher bickering and complaining about silly little insignificant crap makes me want to jump out the window. Are there just people in the world who want to complain? Stupid question, of course there are. They will find fault with anything, just to have something to commiserate about. I have been able to listen and calm myself with the knowledge I will never be their pie. I will never make them happy so I do what I can and leave it at that.
“Uggg!” I just made myself bleed again. This nervous habit of picking at my fingers has been on full force mode. I do it without even thinking. The cursing too, it just slips out. Swearing Mom who lets herself self-inflict pain and bleeding is the opposite of Super Sarah and is not winning Mom of the Year. I squash the guilt because I have the uncanny ability to hide it all out in public and in front of other people’s kids.
“Girls come say goodbye, I have to leave for work! Emma is here.” Silence. Good or bad? I’ll leave that for the sitter to discover since the girls seem to like her better than me anyway. I’m good with that though, she can be their pie.
“Well, being that Olive is starting sixth grade, new to the middle school, unknown to us all, we would like some time to get to know her. I’ll put together the SAT team who will be the people responsible for the process of getting to know Olive, evaluating her for autism, running the meetings and such. I’ll be in touch once school begins in a couple of days and the team is assembled.”
“Great, thank you, I’ll talk to you soon.” I hung up with the middle school director and closed the door to my office because tears started filling my eyes once again. Why am I crying? It sucks I had this my-daughter-has-Aspergers revelation immediately before Olive started middle school, a new school for us. Why couldn’t it have come when she was in fourth or fifth grade? I need to get a grip here and be strong and confident in the process to get Olive a diagnosis. It won’t happen overnight and that’s OK.
I have been spending a few minutes of down time at work here and there to research more into Asperger’s and Olive definitely has it. There is no doubt in my mind. I think she could fall into the gifted category too, falling on the autism spectrum and being gifted can run hand in hand. I suspect Laurel might be gifted as well and I know Michael is for sure. It’s hard work living with all these smart asses. I deserve a gold medal for Patience of a Saint. I deserve to stop giving myself a hard time. I deserve to cry without feeling guilty. I’d also like a nap.
Don’t we all love the clarity of hindsight. Thinking back when Olive was little is my current time-wasting activity. She was smart since birth, talked quite early, never needed repetition when I taught her something, like colors or shapes or animal sounds. Little children often need repetition but not her. I just thought, oh cool, she has Michael’s smarts. She often repeated the last word in her sentences, over and over again. I even have it on video. When she was just over age one, she was obsessed with small toy cars. We played with them all the time and she liked making them crash into stuff. I would say oh no spaghetti-o and Olive would say “ut-oh spatigo!” repeatedly. My daughter would become a parrot. I took a video thinking it was just adorable. That’s only one example. Why didn’t I think her repetitive speech was odd? I don’t know.
“Mrs. Sarah, we need you!” I heard one of the preschool teachers yelling. Dear God, flood me with patience and understanding please. I hate the sound of my own name and I want to go home; my heart is not here at this school.
“I’ll be right out!” Get yourself together Sarah.
The days are long and a tolerant and patient mom sets with the sun. That’s if I’m lucky enough to make it to that point of the day without feeling like quitting it all. Imagining running off into that sunset, let’s make it on horseback, uplifting music playing and not a care in the world. Another running commercial of happiness that includes peace forever.
At least the workday today allowed the day to go by faster and I can relax with a glass of wine before the evening madness of teeth brushing, reading, tucking in, getting the 10th glass of water for each kid all ensues. Michael isn’t home yet and I’m not sure he’ll see the kids before bed. Being married to a doctor is like being a solo parent, it’s on me a lot, not like a single parent, more like an unaccompanied parent. Alone and needing to be ready to do it all on a moment’s notice has been my life for years. I’m not blaming Michael, it’s our life, I knew it would be this way long before getting pregnant with Olive. I don’t think I knew how hard it would be, heck, no one knows how hard parent life is until you become one. There’s no real prep for it. Who knew school mornings could feel like a wrestling match when it’s just me versus the girl gang? It’s a struggle not having someone to tag into the ring so I can get ready for work. My commercial of happiness had children excited to get up and off to school each day, not grumpy girls moaning about everything and never wanting to buy hot lunch. Come on here! Making the lunches, even if I prep the night before, has been an unforeseen nightmare. Why can’t they all like the same things at least? The commercial also included a husband around to help with the crazy parenting times. My attitude about the upcoming school morning routines and bedtimes are not helping me and I need a mental shift. God help me.
I think men in general don’t worry as much as us women, probably a good thing, no need for two of us going insane over here. I just need some understanding and a listening ear, a coach in the corner of the kitchen encouraging Super Sarah to show up and get it all done. At the end of Michael’s workday, I know attending to my needs can be hard to come by. The girls are all in bed around 8 p.m. and then I emotionally vomit all over him. Poor guy, he has to listen to his patients complain all day and then come home to the same. I could not do what he does. I also wonder if I’ve been letting Super Sarah show up too much and I let Michael get away with ignoring his family any day he feels like it. Maybe Super Sarah needs to cool off. Or get fired up more. One of those. Perhaps both.