Categories
Teenage Pregnancy

Judgement and its cure – 34 weeks and 5 days

I am lying in bed.  It is 8:35am.  JC has refused to go to school.  He didn’t do a speech for English and now refuses to go to school.  I can’t fight him.  He is too big and my back has been injured, so I am in immense pain.  I am lying in bed, feeling guilty for agreeing to keep him at home, feeling guilty for not getting up, just simply feeling guilty.

The bed is warm though and seductive.  The guilt is not enough to make me get up.  This could be construed as depression, I suppose, but I don’t really care.  I just want to stay in bed all day.  Of course, I can’t.  Jay needs to be picked up.  She has been with Tee for two days and by all accounts has had a ball.  I cannot believe that she has reached this far in her pregnancy.  Nearly 35 weeks.  Two more weeks and she will be considered term which will mean that Baby C will be able to come home when he is born.

I cannot wait to hold my grandchild.  I wonder at what kind of mom Jay will make.  She has matured so much in the past 8 months.  She is unrecognisable as the teenager she was last year.  Impending motherhood will do that to a person.  It has been a learning curve for me as well.  I have had to learn to remove the hands of control.  To let her grow into the person she needs to be.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has been a wonderful transformation to watch.  There are moments, of course, when the young 19 year old shines through, the one that is afraid, the one that still needs her mom, but on the whole she is a new mom-to-be, and it shows.

I suddenly feel a pang of sadness.  So young to be a mom.  So young to be responsible for someone else at such a young age.  She doesn’t feel that way at all.  She has embraced the prospect of motherhood with gusto and determination.  Of course the idea of having a baby, and the reality are poles apart, but I somehow suspect she is ready for it.  Both she and Em are definitely ready.  I am just dying to meet baby C.  All the trials and tribulations will have been worth it.

I have come along way on this journey too.  I have become a lot less judgemental of teenage parents.  Two years ago, when my own mom was so ill, I was shocked to find a number of teenage moms in the church that my mom attended.  Of course, with the rule of no sex before marriage, a lot of kids got married early and it stood to reason that babies would follow soon after.  I was judgemental – of the teenage parents and especially of the church that seemed to encourage this.  I now wonder why we as a society are so judgemental of these teenagers, rather than supporting them through what is a difficult, but wonderful journey.  After all, it is only in the last 40 years that it has become the norm to have children at such a late age (average 34 years).  Why is it that we consider life to be over if a young girl (and boy) has a child?  The judgement that Jay has faced has been disheartening to watch and even I, when I announce my daughter is having a baby, am always asked how old she is, because I don’t look old enough to be a grandmother.  When I say she is 19, the tone in their “Oh” says a thousand things, and none of them are good.

This journey has taught me that we don’t get the right to judge unless we have been walking in those self same shoes, which can never happen since there are over 7 billion individuals on this earth, each living their own life, walking their own path.  We have no idea how they got to be where they are today and no-one knows how Jay and I got to be where we are either.  Still, judge they do, and we have to face that with dignity and grace.  Jay has found it difficult to cope with the judgement.  She wanted a baby, always has, and even though this wasn’t planned, she is proud to be having it.  “Hold your head up high, my love,” I say, “and know that you are on the path the universe wants you to take.  Hold yourself with dignity and grace.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

All I can do is offer her support and as much love as I can muster.  It is as much a journey of self discovery for me as it is for her.  Baby C is a gift.  I have become a much more tolerant person because of him.  What a wonderful gift to bestow on someone – and he hasn’t even been born yet.

 

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Groundhog Day and the imperfections of motherhood – 33 weeks and 3 days

By the time I wake up at 7am, my body knows it does not want to get out of bed.  Despite a good 10 hours of sleep, it is not ready.  I force it to get up.  I need to get JC off to school and get on up to the hospital to see Jay.

Jay is dressed, made up, sitting on the made bed and looking much better when I breeze into the hospital.  She is in bed 26, which is the exact same bed she was in when she was first admitted some 7 weeks ago.  The irony is not lost on her.  She smiles and points to her bed.  “The exact same bed!”  I nod and laugh.

“How are you feeling love?”

“Yeah, okay.”  Her voice still shows her disappointment, more at not being able to go home, than not having a baby, I suspect.

“Did the girls come to see you last night?”

“Yes, but they got told off for coming to visit after visiting hours.  I was so annoyed.  I only got ten minutes with them.”

“Did you not explain about them being from the UK for this week only?”

“I didn’t get chance.  She just told us off and then walked away.”  I could see Jess was upset.  Angry that someone could actually tell her friends not to be there, especially after the day she had just been through.

We talk some more.  I can hear babies crying in the next room, but thank heavens there are no babies in the room that Jay is in.  Two of the beds are empty.  However, not for long.  A young girl (woman) is brought through in a wheel chair.  Judging by the pink balloon and flowers she is holding, it is obvious she has just had a baby girl.  She is put in the bed opposite Jay.

“Congratulations,” I say.

She beams.  “Thank you.”

“When was she born?”

“At 8am this morning.  She arrived very early – at 35 weeks.  So she is in the special care nursery.”  Jay and I look at each other.

“Jay had that yesterday.  She is 33 weeks and went into labour but then it stalled.”  We all laugh.  I’m not sure why, but we do.  “Have you given her a name yet?”

“Yes, Abby Georgia.”

“What a beautiful name.”  Jay and I nod.

She looks so young.  I have to know.  “How old are you?” I ask.

“I’m 24.” she says.

I’m surprised, but I hope I don’t show it.  “Jay is 19.” Jay looks at me.  I feel like I shouldn’t have said anything.  “She is under the Young Women’s Clinic.  They have been fantastic.” I say quickly.

“Oh, I am also under a team.  I’ve had an eating disorder for a number of years and they have supported me really well.”  I love her honesty!

“Was your mum with you when Abby was born?”  She nods.

“You know, I didn’t even know I was pregnant until I was 27 weeks.  Because of my disorder I don’t have periods.  I was feeling really sick and tired and they sent me for an ultrasound and told me I was 27 weeks.”  I am dumbfounded.

“So, you only had 8 weeks to get used to the idea?” then, before she could answer, “Didn’t you feel the movements of the baby?”

“I did, I just didn’t put two and two together.  Yes, only 8 weeks.  I have nothing at home.  I have yet to do the nursery.  I thought I had time, and then yesterday I went into labour, five weeks before the due date.”  She is a lovely girl.  She leaves the ward momentarily.

“I’ve just made you a friend,” I say to Jay.  Her look says she is not impressed.  The girl returns and asks one of the nurses to take her to the nursery to see her baby.

“Here,” I say, “do you want to borrow my camera?  I can email you the photos.  It’d be nice to have something of her on the day she was born.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet.  I was going to use my iPhone, but a camera is so much better.  Thank you.”  she heads off with my camera.

“That is a bit trusting of you, Mum.”  I am beginning to feel like I’m in an episode of Modern Family.  My child is clearly exasperated with me.

“Well, where is she going to go with it?” I ask.

“I don’t know.  It’s just very trusting.”  The penny hasn’t dropped and doesn’t until I get home.  Jay is upset that this girl has got her baby, gets to cuddle her, with me giving her my camera to witness the happy event; and Jay doesn’t.  All I say is, “Well, what have I lost in the end?  A $300 camera?  If she stole it, the karma would be on her, not me.”  I’m hoping that Jay sees that sometimes we need to see past the mistrust of society and just be kind.  Kindness over stuff.  Instead, I should have seen that this is painful for my daughter.  A seemingly never-ending loop of events that never seems to end in the product of a baby to cuddle.

The girl returns.  “Did you get some photos?” I ask.

“I did,” she says.  We all look at the photos.

“Oh look, Jay.  Isn’t she cute?”  Could I have tortured my daughter any more?  How could I have been so cruel?

The girl decides to go for a sleep and Jay and I chat.  “I want to go home tomorrow,” she says.

“I know love, I know.”

“Will you still take my friends to Mornington tomorrow, mum?”

“Where should I take them?”  I don’t really want to go without Jay.  Whilst I know the one girl as she went to school with Jay, I have never met the other.  Plus I have no idea what two 19 year olds from the UK would like to do.

“Maybe take them to the hot springs, like you said.”

“Yes, that was when you were going to be there too.  They won’t want to do that with just me.  I don’t want to do it without you.  How about I take them to the market, then up to Arthur’s seat?”

“Oo, that’s a good idea.  Yeah, do that.  Then, you can pick me up before you go.”

“If you are discharged.”

“I will be discharged.  I can’t stay here another day.  Please don’t let me be in here for another few weeks.”  Even I don’t want her in there for another few weeks, but we do these things for the safety of our children.

“Let’s just see what the doctors say.  If they release you, I will come and pick you up.”

I head home after lunch.  I am tired and my brain feels foggy.  I ran out of my antidepressants two days ago and I can feel a dark cloud beginning to settle.  By the time Dee arrives home I am really beginning to feel down, especially as the full realisation of my cruelty to Jay hits me.  The house is a mess and I am in no mood to deal with it.  Yep, the black dog has arrived.

I write.  Writing helps me to clear my mind.  I ignore Dee for most of the evening.  I don’t intend to ignore him, but if I am writing, downloading, then I can’t think about all of my inadequacies and all of the guilt that that brings with it.  I write furiously and we barely speak.  Tiredness is my enemy.  It is the root of all the demons inside of me.  It has gripped me these past two days and it has unleashed the black dog.  Why did I have to force those photos on Jay, engage that girl to talk about her baby?  What was I thinking.  Just write, keep writing.  Let it all go.

When Dee has turned off all the lights, the TV and I find myself writing alone in the dark, it occurs to me that I need to be with my husband.  I need to moderate this new-found passion.  I need to learn to write and keep one foot in the land of the living and loving.

Just as I am about to retire to bed, my phone buzzes. I look at the clock.  10pm.  Is this it?  I look at my phone. Can you pick up my friends at 10am tomorrow at my house, pick up some jeans and if they release me, pick me up?  I smile.  The threat of a premature labour is not going to stop my little girl from spending some time with her friends.

I text back.  Yes. then decide to join my very neglected husband in bed.

Categories
Teenage Pregnancy

Failure to launch – 33 weeks and 2 days

“Sarah….Sarah…”  In some recess of my dream, I can hear my name, whispered.  “It’s Jay.  Is your phone on silent?  SARAH.”  My eyes snap open.  “It’s Jess.”  Dee has his phone in front of my face.  A quick look at the bedside clock and I see it is 1 am.  I grab the phone.

“Jay?  Are you okay?”

“Hi, Mum.  I just wanted to let you know I’m on my way to the Pregnancy Assessment Unit.”  I sit bolt upright in bed.

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“Well, we picked up my friends from the airport and took them to dinner.  During dinner I started to feel sick.  We went home and I went to bed at around 9:30pm but at 11pm I started to feel really unwell.  Then I started to feel some really funny pain.  Painful pain.  I phoned the PAU and they said to come straight in.”

“Are you having contractions?”

“I don’t know, the pain is different though.”

“Right, I’ll just get dressed and meet you at the hospital.”

“Don’t Mum.  Let me get there and have them assess me.  I am sure it is just braxton Hicks.”

“Okay.  But phone me the minute you get there or know anything, okay?”

I lie back down, turn over and close my eyes.  My eyes open.  1:15am.  I close them again.  Open.  1:20am.  Close.  Open.  1:20am.  It’s no good.   I decide to get up.  At least get ready if something is happening.  I pad through to the laundry.  Grab some jeans, a top, underwear.

I text Jay.  Hi Love.  Are you there yet?  Any news?  My phone buzzes.

Hi mum.  Am at the hospital.  I think they are going to admit me.

I ring Jay’s number.  “Hello?”

“Hi, darling.  What’s going on?”

“Well they have me strapped to this monitor thingy and they said that my contractions are very regular.  They have called the doctor, but they think I’m going to be admitted to the birthing suite.”

“Have you got your bag with you?”

“No, I left it at your house.”  I roll my eyes.  Jay hasn’t been with us for two weeks.  Constant little reminders that she is still a teenager.

“Right, I’m coming.”  I immediately jump into the shower.  I know it seems strange to shower at such an emergency and I know Jay will know that I am doing this, but I really don’t want to go to the hospital looking  like Madusa.  It takes me 15 minutes and I am done.  I rush around the house, trying to think about what she might need.

“Dee,” I whisper.  “I’m off to see Jay.”   His sleepy eyes open for a moment.  “You’ll have to take JC to school, or get your dad to take him.”

“I’ll take him,” he says.

On the way to the hospital I receive a text.  I’ve been admitted to the birthing suite, room 3.  My god.  Is she in labour?

I arrive at the hospital.  I rush into room 3.  Jay is on the bed strapped up to the monitor.  I can hear the whooshing of Baby C’s heart beat.  Em is with her.  A midwife is fussing over her.  I kiss Em hello and move round to kiss and hug Jay.  “Are you okay?”

“I’m 4cm dilated and they think I am in labour.”  4cm.  That’s active labour.

“What do you mean, think?”

“Well, they said that because it is a premature labour it might just be a false start.”

“But if you are already 4cm, doesn’t that mean you are in labour?”

The midwife interjects.  “It is not uncommon for premature labours to have false starts.  My instincts says that Jay is well into labour, especially by the look of her contractions, but we need to monitor her and check her cervix again in four hours.”  I look at the clock.  It is 2:30am.

“Have you let your mum know, Em?”  He nods that he has.

“She’s going to wait and see what happens before coming through.”  Fair enough.  We have had enough false starts for one pregnancy.

I turn to Jay, “Are you in pain?”

She shakes her head.  “I don’t feel like I’m in labour.”  I look at the monitor and the graph being fed out of the machine.  The peaks are as regular as clockwork.

“Well, it certainly looks like you are.” I say.  “Can you feel them at all?”

Jay nods.  “They are just super-big tightenings.”

Can this be it?  Can I becoming a grandmother, a Gogo, today? I suddenly miss my mom so much.  I want to share this with her so badly.

The midwife inserts a canula into Jay’s arm.  They are giving her antibiotics as a precautionary measure because she is so early.

Em looks tired.  “Why don’t you get some sleep, Em.  You are going to need all the strength you can muster when Jay finally needs to push Baby C out.”  He nods and settles down on the mattress offered to birthing partners.  They have been busy and have no spare blankets for him though.  Public hospitals, you have to love them.  I give him one of the baby blankets I have thrown into the bag.  It’s tiny on his small frame, but it’s something at least.

Jay and I talk and eventually settle down to sleep ourselves.  She on the bed and me on two chairs I have pushed together.  It is 4:30am.  At 5:30am, we are woken by the staff doing the routine obs.  Tee also arrives.  At 6:30am, the doctor checks Jay’s cervix.  Still 4cm.  We cannot believe it.  Jay sighs.  “Only 4cm?  I can’t believe it,” she says.

The day continues along with very little event.  A couple of nurses come in and out.  We are told what to expect when the baby comes.  He won’t be going into NICU, but will go into the special care nursery.  He should be able to breathe on his own, but won’t have the sucking reflex yet, so will probably need a nasogastric tube.  He will look like a normal baby, just a bit on the small side.  When he is born he will be put onto Jay’s chest.  It is important for her and for the baby to have the skin to skin contact.  We nod and get excited at the prospect of our little angel.

At 2:30pm the doctors arrive again.  They check her cervix and she is still only 4cm.  The contractions seemed to have died off a bit as well.  We try not to think that the baby might not actually be coming after all.  Surely, this is it.  I say what everyone is thinking.  “Well, I want the baby to come.  I know it is only 33 weeks, but everyone keeps telling us that he will be fine, that he will just fatten up in the special care nursery.  I am tired of this.  I want to hold my grandson.” Jay nods.  This is taxing on her too.  Tee and Em also nod in agreement.  Em has taken another day off work.  That will be 5 in total on false alarms if this baby isn’t born today.

“Well,” the midwife says, “the longer you can cook your own baby, the better it is.”  I know she must be shocked by my announcement that I want Baby C to be born a full 7 weeks early.  I don’t care.  I am tired.  Jay is tired.  All this too-ing and fro-ing is taking its toll.  Jay and I have only had an hour’s sleep.  Surely it isn’t unreasonable to expect a baby cuddle at the end of it?

A doctor comes into the room.  “Jay, we are concerned that your heart rate has been consistently high since you arrived here at 1am this morning.  I am going to take some blood to check you do not have an infection, or if there is something else wrong.”  We look at the heart rate monitor.  Her heart rate is over 100 and she has been in bed all day.  “Are you anxious?” the doctor asks.  I look at him incredulously.  No, mate.  She is 19 and about to deliver a baby.  A baby that will be a full 7 weeks early.  A baby that, if it comes today she will not be able to take home.  This, after being up and down to the hospital god knows how many times with numerous false starts.  But, hey, she is not anxious at all.  Jay shakes her head.  “I’ll be back later to take the blood.”

By 4pm, the contractions have almost completely died off.  My heart sinks.  I know deep down inside that Baby C is not going to make his arrival.  I really wish that I had not put as my facebook status that I may or may not becoming a grandmother today.  Another bloody false start.  I look at Jay.  She is exhausted.  A full 16 hours of contractions, some of which were really painful, and now nothing.  The doctor arrives to take blood.  “We have had a talk, and have decided to send you to the post natal ward.  We won’t bother checking you again.  I think it’s safe to say you are no longer in labour.  We do want to continue to monitor you though.”  He takes Jays arm and inserts a needle into it.  It misses the vein and he has to do it again.  The second time, she lets out a cry and all the anticipation and disappointment comes to the fore.  She bursts into tears.  Em hugs her.  I hug her.  But it does nothing to stem the flow.  My 19 year old baby has been through enough.  How much more does she have to take?

The doctor finally gets the blood he needs and leaves the room.  “I’m not staying here.  I will discharge myself.”  I hug her.

“You have to stay love.  You are 4cm dilated.  They are worried your waters might break.  You have to stay here.”

“I’m not going to have the baby, Mum!  I’m going to go to full term and all this will be for nothing!”

“It won’t be for nothing, Jay, we will have a beautiful, healthy baby!” Em says.  He sounds hurt, like she doesn’t get it.  I want to intervene.  Tell him that she does get it, that she is just tired.  But I don’t.  They need to work it out.  She just sits there, her big tummy jutting out, and lets the tears flow down her cheeks.  Em hugs her warmly and she nestles her head into his shoulders.  Tee and I go for a walk, sit in the visitor waiting room and have a cup of coffee.  The kids need to be alone.

Twenty minutes later we return.  Em is getting ready to leave to go home for a much needed shower and change of clothes.  He is going to bring Jay’s friends from the UK to visit her.  Jay’s friends!  They have travelled all the way from the UK to see her and now she is stuck here in this wretched place.  Tee and Em leave.  I sit with Jay.  Tears are still streaming down her face.  I want to tell her to be patient, to understand that this is a good thing.  Good for the baby.  But I know that saying it won’t make her feel any better.  The mother side of me gets the better of me.  “It is what it is love.  We just need to be patient.  It is good for Baby C.”  It doesn’t do any good.  Tears continue to stream down her face.  “I just want to go home!”  She lowers her head and sobs.  My heart breaks into a thousand pieces.  How much is one 19 year old meant to take?

A different doctor comes into the room.  “Okay, we have arranged for you to go to the post natal ward.  We will see you in the morning and reassess you then.”

“Does that mean that she will be able to go home tomorrow?” I ask.

“Provided she has settled down, I don’t see why not.”  She looks down at Jay’s chart.  “Although at 4cm dilated, that may not be the case.”  Jay lets out a little moan of anguish.  “It’s just that at 4cm dilated,” her fingers part to show how much 4cm is, “if your waters break, the cord could slip through and it could end up badly if you are not at the hospital.  If you were at full term, we would be inducing you now.”  I had not thought of the implications of that.  I look at Jay, but I can see she can’t think that far.  She just wants to go home.

The doctor leaves and I just cuddle her.  “It will be okay, my love.  We will look back on this in a year and wonder why we got ourselves so stressed.”  There is no consoling her.

It is 7pm.  I have only had an hours sleep and I need to get home.  With no baby on the way and with Em on his way back with Jay’s friends, it is time for me to leave anyway.  I kiss her goodbye and drive home.  By the time I get home twenty minutes later, I am dead on my feet.  Dee heats me up some leftover dinner which I eat.  I know it is not part of my diet, but I am past caring.  I watch a bit of TV, but my eyes are struggling to focus.  I am cold and tired.

As I slip into my electrically warmed bed, I feel my body release the tension it has held all day.  It does not take me long to feel the sweet taste of sleep overtake me.  Another false start, another failure to launch, but we will persist, we will endure.

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Learning to face the world again.

I’m in pain when I wake up.  I have not slept well.  I have joined a weight loss program which requires an inordinate amount of exercise and yesterday I did a boxing class.  My body has gone into revolt.  So much so I cannot even contemplate getting out of bed.  It’s 8:00am on Sunday.  I decide to stay in bed.

Soon, sun starts to stream into the room.  I stretch out, like a dog does when it is content, happy.  I love this house.  I look around my bedroom and I realise that in the last few weeks I’ve allowed it to get really dusty.  I’ve neglected this house that has come to represent so much to our family.  The light does a good job of highlighting all the dust.  I make a mental note to really concentrate on the housework this week.  Jay has her friends from the UK and she won’t be seeing me this week.  I have time to concentrate on the house.  It deserves better than I have been giving it.

I emerge out of bed and take a very tentative shower.  My body does ache so much.  I am determined to lose this weight though.  With Jay’s baby only a few weeks away, I really want to be well on my way to leading a more healthy lifestyle.  I realise that I am really excited about the arrival of Baby C. I can’t wait to hold him, cuddle him. Jay’s tummy is so very big now.  She is tired and she gets out of breath so quickly.  At 33 weeks, she is so much further than anyone ever thought she would be.  We are taking bets in the family as to how far she will actually go.  I am reckoning on full term, Dee is reckoning on 36 weeks.  I think Jay is secretly hoping it will be any day now.  We all want to meet him so much.

As I wander around our house, I realise just how big it is and how empty it feels without people in it.  When we bought the house three years ago, it was intended that the four of us would be moving in.  In my mind’s eye, I had visions of Jay being at Uni or Tafe, having friends over for swimming and playing pool.  I imagined a house full of people and laughter.  It was utopian, and perhaps unrealistic.

Jay moved out before we moved into the house and the minute we moved in JC retracted into his own world and refused to engage with anybody outside of school hours.  Apart from the odd BBQ, and our family christmas this year, this house has not seen people, heard the laughter that a big social gathering brings.  I miss that so much.

We used to entertain a lot.  Then things happened.  Life happened.  I could not face entertaining.  We stopped entertaining.  And the laughter stopped.  JC misses our parties.  He said so this week.  Perhaps I need to start entertaining again.  Perhaps it is more a case of that I need to learn to face the world again.  In the last two years since my mom died, and possibly since I gave up drinking, I am acutely aware of how I have become a recluse.  I have lost trust in life and living.  I think I may have passed that onto JC.  I think he may be following my lead.  Except with him it is much much more isolated.

I was meant to take this year to find my path back into life.  Then Jay got pregnant.  Life happened again.  My path got changed. I retreated even further.  But paths change.  Life happens.  I need to find another way of coping.  I do not want to be isolated any longer.  I want to find my path.  Live my life.  Laugh again.

I think my determination to lose weight is part of my path.  I have joined a Facebook forum of people who are doing the same program, and who exercise close to where I live.  I am thinking of joining them.  I have become such a recluse in the last two years, become quite shy, lacking in confidence.  This is a step out of my comfort zone.

Changing paths, stepping onto a new journey.  This is part of life.  This is what I have tried to teach my children.  This is what I need to do now.  I need to learn to face the world again.  One step, one day, at a time.

 

 

Categories
Uncategorized

The realisation

I am not a writer. How do I know this?  A friend commented on my blog yesterday.  I only pick it up today.  I notice he has a blog.  I didn’t even know he had a blog.  I visit his blog.  It is a blog about writing.  Transpires he writes a lot.  He is a member of www.movella.com.  He writes a shit load.  Others write a shit load.  They give awards, mentions, for the ones who write the most.  Sune Hesselbjerg has written 99 stories in 3 months, Bella Vinter has written 80 in five months.  Where do they find the time?  I don’t write at all, except on my blogs.  I am not a writer.

I am a housewife.  A mother.  A soon-to-be grandmother.  A woman.  A woman who likes to think with her fingers.  A woman who thinks too much.  A woman who loves motherhood, but hates housework.  A misfit in the life of domesticity.  A woman who would rather go out with her in-laws to the botanical gardens than clean her putrifying fridge.  I will clean the putrifying fridge, but not now.  I may have to cancel seeing Jay tomorrow.  The housework has to be done.  I don’t want to do the housework.

I sit with my realisation.  I am a housewife that is there for her son.  Her son that has autism.  I am not a career person.  I have intellect that isn’t being used for a career.  I have depression.  I am a depressed intellectual.  Not really, I’m not an intellectual.  I have intellect, but I am not an intellectual.  I am a mother, wife, housewife.  Not a writer.  Not anything that defines me.  Am I defined by my other roles?  That is not a good indication of me.  I think I may be insane.  I read somewhere once that you need insanity to be a parent.  I think I am insane.  I want to delete that I have written I am insane in case it is one day used against me to have me committed.  Apparently, I am also paranoid.  I don’t hear voices, just so you know.

I am not a writer.  Okay then.  I glance at the clock.  My in-laws arrive in 45 minutes to pick me up to take me to the botanical gardens.  I have freedom.  Freedom to not do the housework and go to the botanical gardens.  This is a good thing.  I have freedom to visit galleries and museums.  I don’t do that, but I have the freedom to do it if I want.  I am lucky.  I am a lucky wife, housewife, mother, soon-to-be-grandmother.  I am not a lucky writer.  Because I am not a writer.  But I like to write.  But not wield stories.  I can’t think past my own story.  Maybe I could write a book about my life.  A life of being a wife, housewife, and soon-to-be grandmother.  Therapy.  It would be good therapy.  For my depression.

Depression is self indulgent.  Wallowing.  All consuming.  Some days it is hard to fight.  Okay.  I am not a writer.  I am a depressed woman with domestic roles and no career.  I blog to get my thoughts out of my head.  I am insane.  I am a depressed, insane woman with domestic roles and no career.  And I am in my forties.  I have lived half my life.  My cup is half empty today, not half full.  But I am lucky.  I have freedom.  I also have material well-to-do-ness.  I am well cared for.  I am funny.  Sometimes.  I love freely.  Mostly.  My kids like me.  Mostly.

I am obese.  I am doing something about my obesity.  It is hard wobbling through life.  Depression is hard enough without lugging fat around with it as well.  I am not a writer.  I am many other things but not a writer.  I look at the messy kitchen and the washing on the floor.  I know what I have to do.  I have to succumb.  Not succumb.  Accept.  Accept the roles.  Accept I am not a writer.  Best I get cracking then.

 

Categories
Depression

The demon.

I’m in a town I don’t recognise.  In a church.  I’m not sure why.  My mom is there.  Dressed in white.  She lights a candle at the alter.  I have been in the church before and realise I should have lit a candle too.  Why didn’t I light a candle?  Guilt washes over me.  The church is full of people that are afraid.  My mom makes her way through the crowd and she is gone.

I meet my dad outside the church.  We walk up and down the street for a while.  I don’t want to talk to him.  I say I need to go back into the church.  I am in the church.  Still so many people.  I walk through to the back of the church, outside into the ally.

Now I’m in a chinese shopping precinct behind the church.  I feel claustrophobic.  Why are there so many people.  Where are the homeware shops.  This isn’t the place I am meant to be.  I need to make my way back to the church.  I go back to the church.  So many people in the church.  We are being held prisoner.  I am looking for my swimming costume.  Where is my swimming costume and the earrings.  Where are the earrings?  I’m looking under beds, in different rooms on different levels.  I can’t find them.  Why are there so many people.

Now I am on a boat.  A big boat.  My sister is on the boat too.  We are trapped.  Prisoners.  There is a lot of commotion and she jumps off to get something.  I think she is escaping so I jump over too.  I am fighting the waves.  There are pink, coral coloured things in the sea.  My sister grabs something and swims back towards the boat.  Why is she going back?  I have to go back with her.  But I don’t want to.  I don’t want to be a prisoner.  I keep thinking about a bell.  I should hear a bell.  Why can’t I hear a bell?  Where is the bell?

My eyes open.  My alarm, it hasn’t gone off again.  I dart a look at my clock.  8am.  Fuck!  I am late, late, late.  I feel drugged.  I can’t move my body.  I slowly ease out of bed, stumbling as my body moves from the twilight of the dreamworld to the reality of the physical world.  I turn on the bathroom light.  No time to shower.  I grab what I wore yesterday and drag my clothes over my body.  I look in the mirror.  My thinning hair is everywhere.  Madam Madusa eat your heart out.  I look for a bandanna to cover my head.  Red, that’ll do.  I try to put it over my head.  The ties get caught and losing my temper, knowing how little time I have, I throw it on the ground.  I don’t need it anyway.  I scrape a brush through my hair.  I look like I have a comb over.  The joys of having female pattern baldness.

I walk through to the kitchen, letting the dogs outside as I go.  I’m tired.  And very very grumpy.  I do not greet JC.  He doesn’t notice, he is on his iPod reading his stories.  There are advantages to having a child with autism.  I don’t care if they are selfish.  I peel his two bananas and hand them to him.  He looks up and says, “thanks.”  I don’t even smile.  I don’t have the energy for smiling.  I make his lunch – yay for strawberry jam sandwiches.  I sniff.  There is something that smells funny.  I open the fridge and it hits me – putrid.  I slam the fridge door shut.  Gag.  Fuck!

I sit down next to JC.  “You need to brush your teeth and put on your socks.”  He gets up without argument.  Thank god for his routine.  I am so irritated.  Why the fuck did I oversleep?  What the fuck is wrong with me?  Why does everything have to bear down on me like a fucking ton of bricks.  I close my eyes.  Breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…breathe out.  Nope, not happening.  How the fuck does the Dalai Lama get it right?

JC emerges.  I know he hasn’t brushed his teeth.  “Get back and brush your teeth.”

“I have”

“No you haven’t JC.  It’s been less than a minute.”  He doesn’t argue.  He heads off to the bathroom.  “And make sure it’s a full two minutes.  I want that yellow furry stuff on your teeth gone!”

We are in the car.  JC has his earphone in and I am listening to the radio.  I can hear the hum of his music.  I am immediately filled with irritation.  “JC, turn down your music please.”

“No.”

I breathe in deeply.  “JC.”  My voice is a little louder, but not too loud.  I am not shouting.  “JC, I can hear your music and it sounds like a mosquito buzzing.  You know how some noises just irritate you and I turn them off?  Well, you iPod mosquito sound is really irritating me.  Please turn it down.”

The noise is less.  I can still hear it, but I choose to ignore the muffled mosquito.  My thoughts are all over the place.  What if the world ends this year?  What if, like the conspiracy theorists say, there is going to be a staged invasion at the olympic games to bring about a New World Order.  That article I read the other day (read it here) has me thinking.  The conspiracy theorists believe that an image or sound will be beamed into our minds to tell us of the coming of the new messiah – the false messiah, but we won’t know that because the image will be beamed into our minds.  That or either a staged alien invasion using satellites (see youtube video here).  This machine sounds like it could do something like that.  Is there a new dictatorial world order on its way?  I am sure there were conspiracy theorists about Hitler that were laughed at, but look what happened there.  The Hunger Games play on my mind.  A life where the masses produce goods for the decadent elite, whilst starving.  Is that on the horizon?  There is no denying the inequality gap is widening.  I shake my head.  I am drowning in my own thoughts.

JC heads off to school.  I drive home.  My thoughts are angry, bitter, all consuming.  I think of people that have pissed me off in the past.  Like my old regional manager Charlie , when I worked  atKelly Girl in Pietermaritzburg.  She interrogated me about my life – how my husband died, how much he left me, how much my mortgage was.  I was so vulnerable having just lost Gee, I answered the questions, desperate for the job.  I got the job, then got framed for sending a girl out on assignment without a reference.  I didn’t lose my job.  I should have told her it was my manager, but desperate to keep my job, I kept quiet.  I was pressured to leave.  I left.  My conscience could no longer stomach her or Kelly Girl.  Then, when I needed it, she wouldn’t fucking well give me a reference to prove I worked there.  On the phone all the way from the UK I am told “It’s company policy not to give references.”  Her voice, her fucking self righteousness, resonates in my mind.  I could not get a job as a financial advisor in the UK because of her.  I had to have ten years proof of employment and she prevented me from getting it.  “You’re a fucking employment agency.  You demand references.  How can you not give them!!”  I shout in the car.

Next I am thinking about Julie Burton who beat me up in primary school and then incredulously appeared at the same private school I attended and beat me up there too.  I pee’d myself that time and pretended to faint, dropping like a stone in the locker room.  The memory of the humiliation makes me want to vomit.  I always stored a change of clothing in my locker after that.  Why did people hate me so?  Tears start rolling down my cheek.

Memories of people hurting me flood my brain – my best friend at school, my best friend in nursing college, my sister in law – people I loved so much, would have laid down my life for and each one, in turn, saw fit to discard me like a disposable old rag.  I know I was clingy, demanding, had my part to play, but I don’t want to acknowledge that.  I want to wallow in the victimness of my own circumstance.  I am angry, and bitter, and full of rage.

I get home.  Only 8:50am.  I slump down on the sofa.  I feel defeated.  Isolated, alone.  Never measuring up, always trying to please, to prove my own self worth.  I DO DESERVE TO BREATHE AIR.  Do I though?   What have a I really brought to this existence.  Life, yes, in the form of my two children.  But I am persona non grata to them at the moment.  I am not even a wife, really.  My house is a mess, I cannot work, do not have the mental capacity to work, although outwardly it would seem I could, if only I would try.  I am a failure.  A wreck.

Is this what meant when Buddha said that the first noble truth is that life is hard.  Is this the level of mental anguish he meant?  When he sat under that bodhi tree, did he weep at his own inadequacies?  I doubt it.

There are days when I feel so strong.  I could fight the world and those in it that would oppress the meek.  Today is not one of those days.

Categories
Uncategorized

Writing the hum drum of life – 32 weeks and 4 days

My alarm goes off at 7:15am.  No dramas, no rush.  Dee has gone back to waking up JC.  I know that he is in his room firmly ensconced in his Naruto fan fiction.  I roll over.  No rush to get up.  My eyes open with a start.  I look at the clock.  7:50am.  I swear I had just shut my eyes.

I jump up, pad through to the bathroom, strip off and hop onto the scale.  I wince.  I decide that this journey of losing weight warrants its own blog (Ed’s note: you can read it here) and think about what to call it.  I hop into the shower.  Having already taken a look at my wobbly bits before hopping into the shower, I avoid looking at myself again.

JC is in the family room reading.  “Good morning, my love.  Let’s get you some breakfast.”  JC barely looks up.  He is snuggled under a blanket.  I hand him two bananas – his current breakfast of choice.  He will have that for a number of weeks until he gets bored of it and we move onto another breakfast.  There is no variety.  Just as well, I can’t cope with variety at the moment.

We head off to school.  Silence.  The usual silence.  Why does it bother me so much?  Possibly because I am a communicator, a sharer of thoughts.  And he is not.  I’m the adult, I need to accept this and move on.  “Bye love, have a good day, I love you!”  The usual grunt.  God, the teenage years.  So infuriating.

I have a mission today.  A weight loss mission.  A gearing up for the weight loss mission.  First coffee and raisin toast.  Not exactly weight loss friendly, but I am not starting that part of the journey just yet.  Just gearing up for it.  The coffee is divine, but for some reason the raisin toast does not go down as well.  I do this every morning, have coffee and raisin toast, and I enjoy it every time.  So why is it sticking in my throat?  Bloody diet.  My body is already starting to reject the food I enjoy but I know is not good for me.

Big W next.  Michelle Bridges’ books.  $25 each!  That’s $50!  Oh well, I want to do this weight loss thing.  I just did not think it would be so expensive.  I head to the shoe store to find that buying “proper” running shoes is around $200.  I want to tell the shop assistant that in South Africa a guy ran the entire comrades marathon route, some 90 kilometers, bare foot.  I don’t, but I want to.  I am not impressed with his sales technique (read, I don’t think he knows what he is doing), so I head off to another store.  Success.

I feel quite buoyed by my successes today.  Of course, I haven’t actually DONE anything to lose weight, just bought the equipment, but hey, it makes me feel good.  It is around lunch time and I am starting to feel hungry (funny that).  I want a muffin, but decide on pumpkin soup in the food court, which is surprisingly good at $4.

I meet a woman from my Autism support group for coffee.  I have never met her before but as we kiss hello, there is a knowing.  Our sons’ genetics are different and they are clearly at different places on the spectrum, but we share a knowing.  The knowing of how difficult it is to parent a child on the spectrum with all their quirks, tantrums and rigidity.  There is no judging, only knowing.  Knowing and empathy and compassion.  I feel relaxed.  Warm.  The hour passes too quickly.  We agree to meet again soon and to get our families together.

After collecting JC from school, I feel anxious at being home.  The housework needs to be done and I don’t want to do it.  Am I lazy?  I don’t want to be considered lazy, but I think I must be.  There is washing that needs doing, the dishes need putting away.  I want to stamp my foot and protest.  I glance at the lounge suite.  It’s dark chocolate leather drawing me into its comfort.  My laptop sits next to where I sit.  My fingers start to move.  I have to blog.  I have to write.  I have to think with my fingers.  I stride over and sit down.  I stretch my legs out onto the chaise.  It’s like curling up with an old friend.

I open up the laptop and without thinking my fingers are flicking away.  My thoughts flow freely and the housework is a forgotten chore.

“What’s for dinner?”  JC has emerged from his cocoon.  I look up.  6:15pm.  Bugger.

“Not sure yet.”  I reply.

“I’m hungry.”  I’m irritated.  I’m in the flow of writing and to break for food now will interrupt the flow.

“Okay, I’ll get something started.”  I don’t want to stop.  I’ve only just found this writing thing.  Well, it’s been with me forever, but I have only just started writing on a daily basis.  I don’t want to stop.  Omelettes.  I’ll make omelettes.  Quick, easy.

JC eats it up with relish.  Luckily he likes cheese omelettes.  I eat mine with not so much relish, thinking that this is not diet friendly.  It fills the space. I retire to my spot.  I write.

Dee arrives home.  “What’s for dinner?”  What is it that people keep bothering me to eat?

“Omelettes.  I’ll make it just now.”  Dee breaks the eggs into pan.  Such a self sufficient man!  I write some more.

A book.  Could I write a book?  What would I write about?  Death and how to survive it? Autism?  Adventure? Yeah, right, like I’m so adventurous. What does a housewife who barely leaves the house write about?  I need a better imagination, I think.  So many people want to write a book.  Millions.  It’s too competitive.  Nah, I can’t write a book.  Maybe I could write a mills and boon type book.  Urgh.  Mills and Boon. So not a fan. Jordan, aka Katy Price, has written a book, surely I can get a book published.  Probably not.  I think I’m suffering from writer’s block before I have even established myself as a writer.  God, that sucks.

Categories
Autism Uncategorized

Retribution

I run to the car and quickly start up the engine.  The electric garage door is taking too long.  Damn, damn, damn!  I’m going to be late again!  I cannot believe this.  Actually, I can.  When I write/blog, time runs away with me.  JC is never going to forgive me for this.

I scream into the school car park.  He is not waiting.  Phew, I may have gotten away with it.  I rest my head back and close my eyes.  The car door opens.  “You’re late.”

“Oh hi my love.  How was your day?”

“You’re late.”

I want to get belligerent, tell him that so what, so I’m late.  But I know that isn’t right.  “I know, but only by a few minutes.”

“It’s red rooster day today.”

“No, that’s Thursday.”

“No, it’s today, remember we changed it.”

Damn, he’s right.  We did change it.  I know I have no money in my purse.  “I don’t have any money I’m afraid, darling.”  I feel like Mrs Dursley in Harry Potter appeasing that awful child of hers, Dudley.  I quickly regroup.  “We’ll have to do it on Thursday.”

JC slinks down in the chair, turns his music up loud and looks out of the side window.  He is shutting me off.  I ruffle his hair.  Touching him is risky, but as a mum I can’t help it.  He jerks his head away, but doesn’t yell at me.  That is a good sign.  I start to speak to him.  “How was your day at school?”

He pulls the ear phone out of his ear.  “What?”

“I said, how was your day at school?”

“Fine.”

“What did you do?”

“Not much.”

“Well, you must have done something.”

“Nope.”

Monosyllabic talk is routine with people with autism, but especially so with teenagers with autism.  “Did you get caught in the rain at all today?”

“Mum, I don’t want to talk anymore.”

“Well, I want to talk.  I miss our talks.”

“Well, talk to yourself.”  In goes the ear phone.

I pull out the ear phone.  “There’s a new rule in the car.”

“What?”

“No iPods.  Only talking.”

“Nope.  I’m breaking the rule.”  In goes the ear phone.

His comfort zone, that thing he likes to call music.  Am I right for wanting to fight it for his attention?  I drift off in my thoughts when Dee phones.

“Hi.  How has your day been?”

“Yeah, good,” I say.  “I wish JC would talk to me more though.”

JC must have turned down his music slightly because I catch him rolling his eyes out of the corner of my eye.

Dee and I talk a little longer and then ring off.  “I’ll pay for Red Rooster, but you have to go after you drop me off at home.”

“I beg your pardon,” I say.

“I’ll pay, but you go and get me Red Rooster – as pay back.”

“Pay back?” I ask.

“Yes, for being late this morning and for this afternoon.  And I have to have fanta as my drink.”

I recognise a manipulation when I see one.  JC is not normally allowed Fanta, or anything with orange food colouring in it.  The orange food colouring in particular tends to affect his moods, and not in a good way.  Scientific research does not back this up, but my personal experience does and as such we avoid it like the plague.

I realise I am being offered conditional forgiveness.  The question is, do I take it?  Of course, the parent of a normal child would say no Fanta and no Red Rooster with some lesson about respect, and coping with life’s ups and downs being offered by way of explanation.  But JC is not a normal child.  He has autism and what he has presented to me is, in fact, quite remarkable.

His routine dictates that he has Red Rooster on a Tuesday.  It is the only day in the week he is allowed junk food (unless I cook it!). Today has been a shambles of a day for him (and for me, as his carer) – I got him up late, picked him up late and forgot money for his weekly treat.  He thought about it and came up with a solution that would not only maintain the equilibrium of his world, but would also afford me forgiveness for the many transgressions of the day.  It would also get him the forbidden elixir.  It doesn’t take me long to decide to take it and wear the consequences.  I am proud of the problem solving skills he showed today.

I smile at him and immediately he knows that I have agreed.  “Wait here,” he says, and runs into the house.  He brings me his wallet and throws it onto the passenger seat.  “Don’t forget the Fanta.”

I drive to Red Rooster.  It is bucketing down outside.  I could walk over really, but it is busy with cars, and they have yet to build a proper pedestrian walk way, if indeed they ever will.  I return ten minutes later with his meal.  “Have you got the fanta?”  The dreaded elixir.

“Yes, it is here.  But if you so much as twitch with anger…”

“I promise I won’t.”  It is an empty promise.  I have no right to even ask it of him.  He has no control over it, the chemical that affects him so negatively.  He grabs the drink and food from my hands and slumps into his bedroom.  His world has been restored.  He is in his bed, in the dark, with nothing but his boxer shorts on, reading Naruto Fan Fiction whilst eating Red Rooster and drinking fanta.  I would say that this is JC’s version of heaven.

I  decide to busy myself with blogging.  I like blogging.  It is my own heaven, my own elixir.  So here we are, two people in the house, each alone, each in their own little world, but happy.  One has had his world restored and the other has been forgiven for upsetting that world.  It doesn’t really get much better than that, does it?

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Uncategorized

The undomestic goddess

Ed’s note:  I have no idea why, but the formatting on this post is not working.  The paragraphs are not separating for some blinking reason.  I may have to learn HTML.

 

Is undomestic a word?  It must be.  It doesn’t have a red squiggly line under it as I type the word, so it must be in the dictionary.  I look it up.  According to www.thefreedictionary.com:

  • Adj. 1. undomestic - not domestic or related to homeundomestic –not domestic or related to home; “had established herself in her career at the price of being so undomestic she didn’t even know how to light the oven”

I have to laugh at the example given.  If only that were me – establishing myself in a career at the price of not being able to light the oven (who lights the oven these days anyway!).  Alas, my undomestication (not a word, apparently), is genetic.  I don’t suppose I can really claim it is genetic because my mother was a domestic goddess, but my grandmother on my father’s side was not.  Ill health, we were told, was the reason for this, so I’m claiming genetics through her.
After my furore with JC this morning, I make my way to visit Jay.  We have decided to return to our original arrangement of seeing each other on a Tuesday and Friday, giving me five whole days to get my “house in order”.  When I arrive at her flat (for want of a better word), I see that it is as messy as mine.  I want to offer to help clean it, but after my spat with JC, I need to be out, free from drudgery, in the mall.
We go for coffee and I have a muffin, which fills me with guilt as I think of the preseason tasks I am meant to be fulfilling on the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation.  I think to myself, just who am I kidding?  There is no body transformation going on here.  See the insanity?
We wonder around the mall.  I happily let Jay chat away about how much older she feels, about the new kitten she has acquired (some 8 weeks before the due date of her baby) and how excited she is about the imminent arrival of her best friend from the UK.   I just wonder around, listening, murmuring in the right spots, quietly absorbed in my own thoughts.  I find myself thinking how a shopping mall is like one big ant’s nest – we all congregate in this one massive place, to purchase stuff, yes, but also just to be near each other.  I wonder who would considered to be the queen ant – Westfield, perhaps?
I must inform you that I am actually quite mad.  My thought processes sometimes take me in strange and weird directions.  Dee finds them amusing, marvelling at how I manage to string absurdly random things together.  I laugh at my own expense, quietly curious as to how he can’t see what I see.  This is one of those times.  As the mall fills up, I watch people as they walk with such purpose from one shop to another, darting here and there and I cannot help myself thinking of what must go on beneath that mound of dirt that we call an ant hill.  Do ants have shops, do they trade?  Probably not.
I digress.  At around 12, Jay announces she is tired and her feet are sore.  Hardly a wonder considering the size of her very round belly.  Hard to imagine that only a few weeks ago we were panicking about the early arrival of baby C, and here we are now, wondering around the massive K-mart as if nothing had happened.  On the way back to her flat, she chats about how she has so much to do before her friends arrive.  So much housework.
I am reminded of my own housework.  Inside my head, I groan.  It is a horrible task and I am so awfully bad at it.  There is a continuous list the length of my arm of things that need to be done – washing, ironing, sweeping, washing the floors (oh, why oh why, did we buy a house with so many tiles), not to mention the cupboards that need spring cleaning, the dusting, the windows that need washing.  Is it just me, or is it just crap?  It is a relentless, never ending job.  No sooner have you got the wretched place the way you like it, when someone breezes in and puts a coffee mug on the table, or you walk into the bathroom to find a pile of clothes dumped on the floor.  I’m a stay at home mum – I even have our my acronym apparently; SAHM – I’m meant to relish this, am I not?
Over the years, I have turned away from my hoarding ways.  I have minimalised and minimalised (not a word, by the way) in an attempt to clear the clutter and thus make my domestic job easier.  The problem is the more you minimalise, the more storage space you need, because you need somewhere to put stuff so it isn’t on show, thus maintaining the minimal look.  Then, that storage space needs tidying, cleaning, sorting.  I know, it is a very stressful situation!!
I once thought I would write a book on decluttering your house, and with it your life, since I had put in so much practice, but apparently it has been done before, numerous times, and they now even make TV programs out of the affliction.  At least I know I am not alone, I guess.
My mom was a domestic goddess.  She cleaned, cooked, sewed, you name it.  She was one of those who never left a room without taking something with her to put away, never ever left the dishes until the next morning, you know the type.  She ran the only bed and breakfast in her area that offered one night bookings, meaning that some weeks she could be washing and ironing sheets and duvet covers for seven changeovers a week.  Do you have any idea of the domesticity that requires?  All that washing, ironing, making beds and cleaning?  Plus, she didn’t just have a bed and breakfast, she had a four star rated B&B, and then that was awarded a diamond rating.  This woman lived domesticity.
That’s why I say it’s genetic.  It missed a generation.  I am the undomestic goddess of our clan.  It is a sad affliction, but one with which I am coming to terms.  I even offer counselling on the subject.  If you need to, you can join my club.  We can lament the domestic goddesses of the world together.  We’ll say things like, “Damn you Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart and others!”.  I think I’m going to change the title of my book.  I’m going to call it The life and times of the undomestic goddess.  I wonder if Amazon would sell it?
Categories
Autism Depression

When you miss a beat -Tuesday 15 May – 32 weeks and 3 days

I wake up with a start.  I immediately know that I have overslept.  I curse.  Bloody alarm.  I set it and it didn’t go off.  I know what is to come and I dread it.  I jump out of bed, as much as I can jump out of bed, and run to the laundry.  I grab the uniform, iron it and burst into JC’s room.  “Wakey, wakey, rise and shine,” I say as cheerfully as possible.  Maybe he won’t notice.

“What time is it?”

“It’s time to get up,” I reply, hopefully.

JC lifts his head and sees the light streaming through his blinds.  “Mum, it’s light!” he shouts.

“Well, I may have overslept a bit,” I say, trying to remain calm, “so up you get up and into the shower.”  JC himself jumps up out of bed and checks the clock in the dining room.

“Mum!  It’s ten past seven!  That’s it, dad can wake me at 5am when he goes to work.  Where is dad!”

The yelling, it’s the yelling that wears me down.  I avoid it at all costs especially as JC is now bigger and stronger than I am.  I don’t live in fear, per se, but I do live with some anxiety that things may possibly fly across the room.

“Dad’s at work, you know it is budget week and he has to be at work early.  Now, get in the shower, JC.”

“Oh no, I’m not showering, not now, it is too late.  I am meant to be woken at ten past six.  You are an hour late.  I know you were just too lazy to get out of bed.”

I ignore the hurtful remark.  “If you want your iPod any time soon, you will get into that shower.”

“That’s not fair.”  It’s the only leverage I have that I know will get him to do what I need him to do.

I have now lost my patience.  “Well, life isn’t fair!  Now get in that shower.  And make sure you use soap!”

JC storms into the bathroom and I hear the shower door open and shut with a bang.  I know he probably will not use soap and it is absolutely no time to remind him to wash his hair, since he hasn’t washed it in over a week.  I retreat to the laundry and put on some washing.

My mood is plummeting.  I have been feeling it for a few days now.  It’s that wretched mother’s day.  Mom was diagnosed with cancer around mother’s day and died 8 weeks later.  Now, I no longer have a mother to spoil on mother’s day and even now, two years later, I feel a great sense of loss.  Being a natural giver, rather than a receiver, means I no longer enjoy mother’s day.  The bombardment of “Happy mother’s day!” and “Mum, I love you.” all over the place is literally more than I can bare.

Dee came home last night to find me in tears.  He put his arm around me and asked what was the matter.  I felt silly saying that I missed my mom, that I missed her voice, the stability and evenness that she brought to my life.  Now, here I am missing her even more than when she first died.  I need her to listen to me download, to listen to how hard I find it sometimes, being a mother to a child with autism, my fears of his long term independence, my anger and sadness at my own sense of disappointment and loss of not having a normal child.

I hear JC emerge from the shower.  He shouts something at me, but I choose to ignore it, since I didn’t hear what it was.  I move into the kitchen and start making his lunch.  I go to pick up the vegemite and drop the jar on the tiled floor.  It shatters.  “Shit! Shit!” I say.

“That’s called karma!” JC shouts from his lounge.

My blood boils.  I storm into his room.  “You just show some respect!” I yell at him.  “The appropriate response is ‘Are you okay, Mum’!”  This is a futile exercise.  Children with autism, and especially teenagers with autism are extremely self-centred.  Not in the selfish the-world-is-all-about-me kind of way, but in the I-live-in-and-can-only-operate-in-my-own-world kind of way.  They have to learn empathy in the way we have to learn to drive, they aren’t born with it.  It is impossible for JC to see that I may have been hurt by shattered glass.

“You have to earn respect,” he says without looking up.

I’m human, and I have reached boiling point.  “Respect!” I yell, “Respect!” (just in case he didn’t hear the thunderous voice the first time around).  “I have earned that respect by being your mother, for carrying you for nine months, pushing you out with great pain, nurturing you and giving you as much love, shelter and care as any mother could give.  I have earned it by understanding your autism and fighting for you every single step of the way!  Oh, my boy, I have earned that respect!”

I know he isn’t listening.  Children with autism have a wonderful way of retreating into their own world.  He just says “karma” and retreats.  I walk away, knowing that it is pointless.  I broke his routine.  His routine that is so precious to him, as it is to all children with autism, and I disregarded it.  As far as he is concerned, I trashed his routine and that does not deserve respect, even when I explained to him that I did set the alarm and it didn’t go off.

I head off to the shower myself.  I am tired and I haven’t even begun my day.  As the warm water warms my skin I wonder about karma.  I head off down a self pitying train of thought of being a really bad person in my previous life to warrant a teenage pregnant daughter and a teenage son with autism.  I shake myself.  This is a dangerous road for me and I cannot go down it.

“Mum, are you ready, we need to go.”

“I’m just about done JC.  Five more minutes.”

We get into the car.  JC blares his music in his ears.  I listen to the radio.  Both of us are absorbed in our own thoughts.  God, I miss my mom.  “Have a good day at school.  I love you,” I say as JC alights from the car, as I always do, part of his morning routine.

He grunts.  “You know, I know you overslept on purpose.”

I smile, promise him that it was a mistake and drive off.  I get home and check the alarm clock making sure it works for tomorrow morning.  Missing that beat cost me, and JC, and I don’t intend to let that happen again.