Lately, I’ve been craving the old times before cell phones with all their hundreds of busy worker apps and this curse and blessing of the internet with its tasty treats and dark alleys. The social media should be renamed “sucker of one’s real life”.
My mind is worn out. I can hardly sit in the same room while a kids movie is on. I used to love Disney and Pixar movies but lately I need slow, dull colored films. I need movies that are serious, maybe even dark. I can’t take the sugar coating on the innocent films right now. I need reality. I’m not becoming a cynic (maybe a little) but I am weary of the old sparkles and unicorns I used to crave.
Coming from a dark childhood, I needed a steady diet of bright colors and nursery rhymes, and I filled up plenty with the arrival of my two boys. And then the pendulum swung to the middle and now I can finally read a book that is slightly disturbing…or very disturbing such as Running With Scissors.
As I find balance with who I am in menopause and half a century of life passed, I find my taste changing, my energy flagging, and my person turning inward. I have been very busy for all my life and now I’m tired, but a different tired. A mental and emotional tired.
The other day my eldest wanted to talk deeply. We sat on the couch for me to listen and him to vent about what I was doing wrong as a mother. I sat quietly and looked him in the eyes as I had been taught to do in healing circles through a Spiritual Center years before motherhood was even a glimmer of hope. Inside I wanted to weep deeply. All I could think as my son listed his complaints against me was that this parenting was hard, hard, hard. I feel very alone in it often. I have a husband and father for my goslings, but he works a lot and when he’s home one can find him in the garden weeding and eyeing my planting methods critically or amongst the fruit trees propping branches up with his homemade crucifix looking crutches.
Turns out…kids just need you to hear them. Not busy cleaning whilst nodding as they talk, but sitting and being 100% present. Arjan was satisfied deeply with my nodding and agreeing without defending myself and gave me random hugs through the day. Not as painful as I thought, I just had to admit that I sucked as a parent and he felt complete. Truth is I’m too tired to defend my personality anymore. What is the use, people will think what they will of you despite a brilliant case argument. I’ve learned this with former friends, trolls, husband, kids, even the dogs have their opinions.
I often feel my best is no good at times. There is yelling and feathers flying. I want peace and quiet but it doesn’t come. My boys are demanding and they want my full attention. They want to talk about feelings. This is a beautiful thing and I truly want to have that spark to encourage it, but sometimes I don’t understand my eldest. He is different and I’ve known this for awhile but just didn’t know what was the different part. My youngest went through a period of hard core whining that made me want to throw myself of the nearest cliff. I think we are done with the tantrums but with Arjan things are getting more intense.
Then we had a breakthrough recently. It all started way back with the godmother mentioning her nephew and his Asperger’s. She was hinting at something but being far to vague.
Augusten in his memoir Running With Scissors talks about his brother and his Asperger’s. This short and blunt paragraph detailing his brothers habits and personality made something click in my brain. I began putting pieces of history together. Arjan and I have a blow out last night about him keeping a promise to clean up and him saying, “I don’t have much of a choice.” This sent me there. It felt so disrespectful. I do so, SO much for my family. We argued. I woke in the middle of the night…or morning, technically, and wound up on YouTube watching Greg Braden and some Indian healer or teacher or what ever. Some where between that upsetting but good book and all the conversations with others, I suddenly realized that my boy has Asperger’s. Somewhere between the author’s dialogue on his brothers personality traits and my emotional exhaustion, I had that moment of clarity.
It explains so much. His obsession with things such as dinosaurs (six years and counting), coins, and birds. His discomfort with eye contact. His adoration and skills with elders, infants, and autistic children but a complete awkwardness with his peer group. His attachment to certain clothing. Not being good with loud, bright or overly emotional situations. The biggest is that he has always been far advanced for his age. We have called him the little Professor for years. He can talk a man to his literally death, but he can not listen that well. There isn’t much back and forth communication with him. I always thought he would be a great filibuster in the senate. They would pass a law just to get him off the podium.
These are items I thought were disrespectful. I felt my son was very self focused and had no social skills and it worried me. How would he make good friends are be a good partner one day?
He and I have been watching Ted talks on the characteristics of one with Asperger’s and he agrees. He sees himself in the descriptions. We now know what we are dealing with and it is a huge relief. Now that I understand, I can be far more patient and allow him to be who he is. He will understand himself and not try to be anything other than what he is. Instead of trying to shove him into a square, we can let him find his own special shape.
There is great relief in finding answers to problems. Just like the menopause. I thought I was going through odd and segmented depression sessions. When I grasp that it was menopause and I started taking suppliments and natural hormone creams, my world had light and song again.
So, we watch the Ted talks, we read the articles and talk. I call the father and he says what fathers say when you say their sons are different, “He’s fine, you need to change the way you act, he’s following you!”
Oh kaayy. I hang up feeling very alone in this. I handle it how I handle most times when I’m overwhelmed. Or need to think. I get rid of things. I hauled out furniture, went through cabinets, loaded boxes, pulled out bins of old gift wrap and bags and hauled it all to the street with a big fancy free sign Arjan made for the stack of goods now in the front drive. He gets me. I rearranged some furniture and cooked a big pasta meal with a fresh, handmade salad. Now I felt realigned. Melty since it’s 102 degrees outside, but calm.
Father calls later and tries to comfort his son, but we are way down the road past any need for therapy and the godmother called and had a long talk with Arjan. Her favorite nephew has Asperger’s and she knows what to say, how to comfort and hear this family. She knew all along but waited for us to be ready to find our answers. She would drop hints now and then but you only hear when you are mature enough to process it.
I’ve had people try and diagnose my children. I just love the ones that are childless but seem to have a masters in child psychology. I have a friend that has never raised a child, barely had one in her home, but she has diagnosed Arjan every time she has a few cocktails. “He may have ADHD”. “He needs to be challenged”. Oh sweet crumpets. A child with ADHD doesn’t sit for hours reading novels. And challenged, that child challenges himself far too much. I have to force him to watch a mindless movie sometimes before his brain takes off to the cosmos.
I hope to sleep well tonight. I’m not online much these days. I feel overwhelmed by a simple video or all the stuff that comes at you the minute you lift the lid on the laptop. The ads, the videos, the politics, the comments, the puppet shows and misinformation. Everyone wants to be seen and have that chunk of fame. Thanks to Tik Tok and YouTube or Instagram, Facebook and who knows what else, everyone has that chance. It feels like heavy commuter traffic in my mind.
I am happy to return to my writing and get off the wheel of creating for YouTube. It can be fun until it’s not. And I must take my hat off to those that do it all. I can’t. I haven’t the mental power, emotional vigor, or stamina any longer to nurture exceptional boys, spoil a husband, and love on needy dogs and give to a career of any sort. How parents work full time and maintain a home and raise a family is beyond me. I’m sure it helps to start a bit younger in age. Maybe a couple decades before menopause. And so many people have special children these days. It is a career in itself. Children today are coming into this world so advanced and with special skills and a new depth in their very souls that is beyond this simple world we are used to.
Tonight I sit here with answers. I feel like I will crawl into my sleep nest and rest deeply. Raising a family is work. It requires instincts syphoned from the well of Universal Wisdom.
But this family is my life. My world. The best world and life I’ve ever experienced and with each challenge there is a victory that deepens our understanding of one another and builds that bond.