Essay #14: Foxes At Night

I have been sharing personal essays on my journey with autism with my children, on mom life, grief and mental health. Most essays are from life in 2017 and 2018. WARNING: my essays contain cursing. Click on the Essays category to read previous ones.

Lately at night I have been hearing a sound like a baby screeching, coming from the woods around our house. It’s ear piercingly loud and makes me jump out of bed and want to run outside and comfort the baby; mommy instincts spring into action. After two or three nights I searched online for what could be making such a raucous. My best guess is a fisher cat or a fox, it’s a mating call. This is something no one tells you when you move to the country. A fox mating call sounds like an infant dying. I laughed because this is an exact metaphor for my life at this moment. Sleep eludes me while I deal with the foxes at night.

Olive’s weekly social worker sessions are helping her it seems. She is learning ways to help drown out the world. We are understanding the extent of her sensory processing issues. When she was in preschool in San Diego her teacher suggested getting Olive screened for sensory issues and I of course didn’t think it was warranted at the time. Life lesson, always listen to the preschool teacher. ALWAYS. I see it now as a director of a preschool, parents don’t always listen to us concerning their child, or like me, don’t know they don’t want to listen to the advice. Preschool teachers see a lot of kids, they know. I never knew what it fully meant to have sensory processing disorder and how it can be a spectrum. Now I know and see it. Maybe we just need to educate more. Olive is deeply affected by sounds, something I think any one of us who doesn’t have this issue will ever know, and it sounds horrifying. Her world is different from mine and she’s tried to function in it all this time not knowing she was experiencing life and hearing the world in a divergent way from everyone else around her. Holy cow, drown that shit out baby girl. I wonder what the foxes at night sound to her?


Two in the morning headache, should I see a doctor? Stress? Just lack of sleep? Sleep is unobtainable from work tension, Ella’s wedding this coming weekend and Laurel’s special education evaluation results screeching in next week, all translating into my brain wired for fight or flight all hours of the day. Those foxes won’t go to bed. Yesterday I took down the picture frames I had around the house of Gram and pulled her obituary off the refrigerator and stuck them all in the cabinet in the dining room. Why did I have her obituary on my refrigerator?! So morbid. I noticed these last couple of months as I would move around my house, going about my day, I would see Gram’s picture, stop breathing and feel as though a sword pierced my chest. I would have to stop in my tracks with my hand on my heart and take deep breathes until the pain subsided. I never knew grief would cause physical pain like this. Hiding the memorabilia helps me continue to push the grief down into the abyss of my soul to avoid panic attacks. Hey, whatever works right?! Why didn’t I do this sooner? No piercing pain felt today as I went about my afternoon around my house, not seeing reminders of the death of one of my favorite people.

Usually when I can’t fall back to sleep I’ll stay in bed, not wipe my eyes and pray to fall asleep. I’m going with something new and writing out what is on my mind in hopes to swipe my brain clean so it can relax and slide into slumber and I won’t fall asleep on Michael on the couch early in the evening the next night. Sometimes I forget he needs me too. The person I want to give most of me to is the person who sees me the least. When he was in training we had a few years of him having to work overnights and it was especially hard when we had babies. I am thankful Michael sleeps next to me every single night now.

One reason I can’t sleep, I’m dreading yet another PTO meeting going on tonight that I have to attend. Is this midlife? Wanting to choose pjs, the couch and a glass of wine over adult responsibilities? Maybe it’s childishness. Maybe it’s a grieving, stressed out with a special needs kid (maybe two), PTO president, matron of honor, I run a business, life crisis. If I’m the one bringing that phenomenon into existence then my apologies to whomever comes across this affliction after me; I imagine no one else will come across these exact circumstances in their life but right now I feel like I know nothing. When I get to the end of the day I feel like I deserve pjs and a glass of wine because I made it through without wishing I was dead or packing to run away. The creed of an alcoholic I’m sure, or the mantra of an anxiety ridden suicidal adult. That’s sad but makes me giggle so I’ll allow it.

I think I’ll show up unprepared for the meeting, like most of the other adults who come do anyway. Joining the club.

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