Mental exhaustion. Motherhood.

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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.

41 Comments

  1. Hi Kate, I have enjoyed reading your blogs of late.
    My son is on the Autism spectrum (Asperger’s is on the Autism Spectrum). I struggled with my son from birth. I remember someone telling me he had ADHD. I took him to our GP, who told me he did not have ADHD. My son has a very good attention span. The GP told me my son would “grow out of” his behaviours. This was back in the days before the internet existed. I did not know anyone else with a child like my son and had no information about children like my son, so in the absence of guidance, we did the best we could for him. It was not until he was 19 and living away from home for the first time that SHTF. We had always accepted and made allowances for my son’s idiosyncratic behaviours, but his new housemate struggled tremendously to deal with my son, and vice versa. I was talking to one of my sisters one day about my son and his struggles and she suggested that my son might have Aspergers. By this time, the internet existed and I was able to do some research. My son certainly did exhibit lots of behaviours consistent with Aspergers. My son came back home and we took him to a Psychiatrist and Psychologist to have a proper psychological assessment done. They said that my son does not have quite enough features to be classified as Aspergers, but he was diagnosed with PDD NOS, which stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. So my son has autistic traits, but does not quite meet the criteria to be classified as having Aspergers. My son is now 31 years old. He is highly intelligent, hard working, knowledgeable, highly esteemed amongst many of his acquaintances and he has many friends. Yes, he is ‘different’. He has always been ‘different’, but ‘different’ is okay. Some people really struggle relating to my son because of the way he is, but that is okay, he has many friends. Being on the autism spectrum does not mean someone lacks emotions, it just means they feel things a bit differently to other people. My son is an excellent debater and public speaker. He is able to look at issues from other people’s points of view without getting upset. He is excellent at rationality and clear thinking. I value those skills highly. I often seek my son’s opinions on matters because he sees things differently to me and is able to give me a different perspective without getting too emotional. I find that very valuable and I have grown as a person from having discussions with my son about his way of looking at things.
    I hope that as you and your son gain more knowledge and understanding of the way he sees things and the way he thinks, you will both enjoy the journey forward and grow closer together.
    And I think you did a great job of being able to listen to your son without getting defensive or making excuses for yourself. I find it is important as a parent to be able to say ‘sorry’ and to acknowledge that I make mistakes, because I definitely do make mistakes. And parenting is exhausting – I agree with you there. Keep up the good work Kate. The fact that your son is able to freely talk to you about his concerns shows you are on the right track. And I hope you keep blogging, because I really enjoy reading your words.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Kate, love and prayers for you. I first want to say that as someone who spent her entire career in education, I have worked with many amazing children with the same diagnosis. I do think that some therapy might help him even at this age. It more so brings awareness than anything else. It sounds like his godmother will be an excellent resource. I believe that God chose you to be the mother that both of your boys need. I pray this heaviness will lift as you embrace this new journey for your son and learn everything you can to help him be successful in the future. Many of the special kids I have worked with had very special moms. If I can offer any guidance, message me anytime. Blessings.
    Valerie in SC

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  3. Kate, Very bright children are very challenging. And this will b3 a challenging journey for all of you. Just remember to be kind to yourself. Hugs. Olga

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My prayers are with you and your family, but especially you. Your post has a lot of emotions from you, not good ones. I used to tell my boys that I am doing the best I am able and they can think anything they want but keep it to themselves otherwise it is disrespectful. Families are more of a dictatorship than a democracy. Both my boys are highly intelligent with my youngest in his last year getting his doctorate in math. It was difficult raising them pretty much by myself as my husband worked 7 days a week. I hope you seek professional help for support if you need to.

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  5. Dear sweet Kate, I think you are a wonderful, caring mother. I pray that you will be guided through all these revelations. Love to you.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I think your title should be called mental exhaustion AND motherhood. HA Sorry but I’m in the boat of: its mid summer and these kids are driving me crazy. Your article was very deep and im glad you have an understanding of Arjan. Kids are the craziest thing to humble and drive a human almost mad. My husband says “I guess that’s just what you are here to learn in this lifetime.” As annoying as that is, he is right. No one else seems to be as fiercely annoyed by the dailies of raising children but me, however I keep my kids busy. They are always complimented by other adults on their fun personalities and unique abilities- that is my doing. It has not been without mental breakdowns and yelling at my whole family, blaming them for what is not their fault but an unacceptance on my part. Daily we go through the dance of trying to live 24/7 together under 1 small 1240sq foot roof. Its a process, but I trust that process to teach me to be a better person, and to raise good people. We are all doing the best we can. Cheers to you Kate! I hope your kiddos enter some sort of program soon (school, sports etc) that gives them a change of scenery so they can grow and learn and you a much needed break so you can be your own person- outside of “mommy”. Im counting the weeks, days, minutes, hours until their wonderful private school is open. Until then, its one day at a time.

    Take care!
    Ashley

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  7. Sending a virtual hug. Our oldest son has severe autism and raising him into adulthood was the most challenging thing we’ve ever done. There was tremendous sadness and upheaval when he was first diagnosed, then acceptance, then moving on to live the new “normal.”

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Kate, we met several years ago at the nature school. My son also is on the spectrum and is on his own special journey. To this day, both of my kids still ask about Argan and Sam.

    It’s supposed to be 112 today, stay cool my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Brenda! You must be in the valley. We are set for 106. We don’t go to that school anymore, they changed so much over the quarantine. If you are ever up here let us know and we can go to a fun park or hike.:)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have always said motherhood is not for sissy’s. Thirty years of mothering here. I think as women we need to support each other’s struggles,joys,and the everyday. Thank you for sharing your experience. Side note I watched cruella and enjoyed it. Quite Dark.
    We cleared the tenants hoard in 3 days. The damage to the structure is bad.

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  11. Thank you for this share, it may give clarity for a lot of mothers out there. We are going to continue to explore and see how he develops. We aren’t using it as an excuse for his idiosycrocies but it helps him and us understand him more. I will probably mention this to his doctor next visit. However, I don’t see this as a problem at all, he is unique and in a wonderful way. It will help him find his path and his tribe in the future.

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  12. Thank you, Valerie! Ah, there is much relief already. He is happier knowing that he is wonderfully unique and how to work on some of the parts that need some care. He and I do have support from family and friends that either have a child on the spectrum or have children in the family on the spectrum.

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  13. Take my writing with a grain of salt. I write dramatically, that is what a writer does. We are happy and my family will not be a dictatorship, everyone is welcome to share their feelings so we can talk things out. My exhaustion is more from working on too many projects and online. Now that I’m offline except this writing, I’m feeling better each day. Now that we have an idea of what we are working with it is even better. I will not ever seek professional help as I don’t feel traditional therapy does any good but to have you sit there and go over and over the same topics instead of learning to find solutions and grow through the challenges. I have my own ways of healing and I have some support, thank goodness. I commune with Spirit and am guided well.

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  14. I am so, so sorry! To have your property so destroyed and all those dogs. 3 days is incredible, I hope you can quickly and easily get it all fixed. Are you selling or renting again?

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  15. Arjan is such a precious little boy. I believe you to be a wonderful mother. Youth helps in being able to keep up with youngsters, but age helps with wisdom and patience. You sought wisdom and answers – that is something you should be proud of. As for the constant NOISE that is around today…I told my husband just the other day that when my mother is gone (she is 86 and not in good health), that I am NEVER taking this damn phone with me again. I have to take it now wherever I go in case she falls at home or needs something urgently. I just hate the phone! So SICK of it hanging around like another appendage. Take a deep breath and deal with issues one at a time as they arise. Sending you a hug and prayers. Cate <

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  16. Thank you. We were so lucky the eviction was quick. They left so much stuff. A local family couldn’t believe what was done to our home. They came and helped us. So, we had a group of ten with my husband and kids. We carried out enough enough to fill a huge semi to truck. 8 two yard dumpsters. We plan to sell. If we don’t, we will rent and the tenants will have to walk through the house monthly and facetime us.

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  17. Kate I am here silently reading and thinking of you, I admit I miss you terribly this year has been the best and worst of my life. Loss and Now health issues. I am learning to take one day at a time. I lost now over 40 pounds and I am starting to feel better. Stress trauma took its toll. I am recovering from Kidney infection and stones .and Terrible Perimenopause hemorrhaging I believe my fast-paced video daily recording and not dealing with my loss like I should made it all worse. But I sit here now healing I am not posting as many videos and I am taking time to just be ME!!!!!!! I only watch black and white old movies and reading my Bible. You know what remember what bothered me so much in the past you know the trolls? They are a distant memory now I let it go and I left it for God to take care of, in fact one of my biggest trolls suddenly passed away In June. I am sad over her passing Because I wanted to reach her. But she would not hear about Love and Peace. It is bitter sweet for me as I have peace now but so very sad for her soul. Her family never seemed so happy as they are now, She was very hateful to some of her children. You Taught me so Much, I am forever grateful for your Love and friendship! Tessie

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  18. Kate, the part where you said you felt like you weren’t good enough brought me to tears because I literally announced that statement to my family yesterday. Nothing is ever enough or appreciated. It’s not mature to think we should get some sort of positive emotional feedback from all we give, but yet, I wish it was there. A connection, thank you, or smile. I’m expected to just give while everyone watches with criticism.
    Anyway, Aspergers isn’t an official diagnosis anymore – they relabeled it as on the spectrum. Almost everyone has characteristics of people who are on the spectrum – different sensory issues and whatnot but when it becomes a problem in every day life’s functions is when a diagnosis is sought. I would contact a health professional to help you with this. People are out there to help and it’s a complicated subject. They can show you how to modify your curriculum to meet his needs. He may need other types of services that would benefit his development such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc… They do a screening and decide what would be needed.
    Also, most people think ADHD means a child is always unfocused and hyperactive. This is not the case. People with ADHD *DO* focus for long periods of time on things that interest them. This is why your being in collaboration with people who are educated about children would benefit you… we aren’t born knowing everything but people who work with kids know these things are want to help.

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  19. Please read a piece by jim sinclair “Don’t Mourn for us” Jim was one of the first of the Autistic activists. Also, if you look up ” Desi’s Desk; AutHaven Autistic Retreat, Madison House” you will read more about my life as an Autistic and about the Autistic retreat I created.

    I am Autistic as are some of my kids and grandkids [don’t know about the greats yet though, they’re small babies]] and you need to understand that your son has an entirely different neurology than non_Autistics [neurotypicals] He does not perceive the world or respond as a “normal” person would expect. And that’s okay…so long as YOU know that. And respect it.

    I don’t know what to say though beause there is so much I would like to share, tips for helping him be his awesome, authentic, Autistic self.First thing, and you won’t hear the “experts” say this, but if you are going to tell him that there is nothing wrong with being Autistic[and there’s not] it’s going to be fairly difficult for him to believe you if you don’t havve Autistic friends. So, please, find some.

    I hope you can tell him that f he is feeling overwhelmed or close to shutting down that it’s okay to just leave the room. That that is not rude. that it’s okay not to want to be touched without permission. That he’s not the only one who can taste and smell numbers and letters [that’s about a quarter of us] That he might have problems figuring out the social; skills so easily acessible to neurotypicals, but that when he is wth “his own” he might find his social skills are just fine, thank you very much!

    Please allow him to create and solve and learn in the ways that are unique to him. And if he stims, I BEG you to let him stim. that is how we [Autistics] feel and calm our emotions, learn, create and think.

    I have so much I want to say now but I do not wish to overwhelm you. Plus, this minute i am so EXCITED for Arjan that I can’t find my words.

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  20. Oh Kate, I knew we were kindred spirits on so many levels. I too went through something similar with my son when he was a child and who is now 39. They did not have diagnosis for any such things back then nor any help or resources for the parents. In fact, I still wouldn’t have known if I didn’t recognize the same pattern in my 13 year old grandson when he was young and did some research. They both have Sensory Processing Disorder. Knowing has lifted such a burden off my son and my shoulders. I am now happily able to help my son and daughter in law when things start to feel overwhelming to them. My grandson went to a very good counselor who was able to explain a lot about what he was feeling and how to look at it and deal with it. He liked being able to talk to someone who was a neutral third party and experienced with it. It helped him get rid of his frustration. I think the counselor was able to give him some honest answers he was seeking and fill in some blanks for him. He now knows that anytime he would like to go speak with the counselor again all he has to do is ask, but it’s been over a year now and so far he is good. It has alleviated the anxiety he was feeling about his life. Knowing what you are up against is half the battle. You have so much material and advice out there for you and Arjan. Soon you will discover the way to have a balance in your family and in your soul and you will feel so much lighter. So much I could say about the helplessness, frustration, and sometimes even hopelessness I felt when my son was young, but that all was lifted once we knew and knew how to move forward. I’m glad you discovered this while Arjan is at such a young age. He will have it for life, but it doesn’t have to create an anxious life for him. Praying for you and your family. ~Sally

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  21. Reading this post has brought back so many memories of my daughter when she was a child. First let me say that every child is made in the image of God, and unique. God doesn’t make any mistakes. My daughter always struggled in preschool. When she got to elementary school, I knew something wasn’t right. She could not read at the end of first grade. I knew she was dyslexic in my heart, but she was too young to be tested. She ended up getting a tutor for reading and math. When I finally got the confirmation that she was dyslexic and had a learning disability, it was a relief to know my mothers intuition was right but didnt solve anything. To make a long story short, my daughter had to learn different strategies on how to handle her LD. She had a tutor all the way up thru high school. But along the way she added skills necessary in her toolbox of life on how to navigate her dyslexia. She graduated in May, cum lade with a teaching degree in elementary education and will be teaching 1st graders. I tell you all of this to say that Arjan may need to add some skills to his toolbox,.but it won’t impede him from being who he was created to be. As for you my friend, all I can say is continue to trust your gut, and pray alot.

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  22. I believe he has a pretty mild case, it mostly effects the social aspect and he repeats and obsesses. I will talk to his doctor next visit. Arjie and I are doing the research and talking. We both feel a lot of relief in just knowing and there is no shame or fear. Just relief to know. Your family is so lucky to have you.😊

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  23. What is stims? We are very relieved. I knew something was up for some time but now we have an answer and that is worth gold! He knows he is not alone, he is loved and we will all learn together as a family unit. He has a very good friend that comes to play all day once a week. Arjans friend is high on the autism spectrum. His mother is highly educated in all this and has groups, friends and major knowledge. How lucky is that?! Ah, the Universe provides and prepares before we even know we need things. I have a childhood friend who’s daughter has Asperger’s and the godmother has her nephew and can help. This will help so much for school this Fall. I was getting concerned sending him because of his social awkwardness with his peers. However, now we can get support and let him be who he is completely. Now, please write back and tell me what is stims?😊

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  24. I saw your video the other day, you look great. I’m feeling better each day now that I’m not on any of the media. It’s many layered with the creating and being open and vulnerable to so many people. I feel sad for the womans’ children. I hope they have a healing now that she is gone. I’m glad you are coming back to the basics.

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  25. What is stimming? The word “stimming” refers to self-stimulating behaviors, usually involving repetitive movements or sounds. Everybody stims in some way. It’s not always clear to others. Stimming is part of the diagnostic criteria for autism.

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  26. Hello Kate, I am just reaching out to give you a virtual hug and let you know you got this. My son was diagnosed with Aspergers as a young teenager and there were many hardships but also many really positive things that came out of that. Your son is gifted! He has qualities not many people have in a good way. My son is now getting ready to graduate college with a Masters Degree in Physics. He is a well adjusted, loving, smart kid and your son is too! I am writing this to encourage you and I hope it does just that❤️

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  27. Your boys are so lucky, I truely believe on the whole we get the children we are meant to have. Challenging but wonderful, however I do feel your tiredness and sometimes I just sit there and breathe. Blessings and big hugs x

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  28. I, too, have a nephew with Asperger’s and long ago suspected the same of Arjan. But I knew you would figure it out when the time was right. I love the fact you and Arjan are studying this together. 🙂

    I highly recommend the book, “Look Me in the Eye”. I read it to better understand my nephew and found it fascinating. It also made me suspect that one of my brothers may have similar tendencies.

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