My Wonderful Hubby could see I was struggling to keep up- I have been sick- and he gave up his work weekend to spend time with MissG and gave me a rest. I didn't realise how tired I was until I stopped. I spent the first day laying around doing nothing. I spent the second day sitting around catching up on stuff I could do while sitting around. Aside from the fact that it is nice to be looked after in this way by my Husband, it was nice to have reminder of how much work it is to keep up with MissG when observing how trashed he was after spending 2 days with her!! I felt my tiredness had been validated in some way, and that I needed to take the opportunity to be reminded of the fact that I need to take care of myself.
As time goes by I am more convinced that caring for an ASD child is something you cannot even begin to understand until you have done it. Not just a bit of babysitting, but been there- as the child's primary caregiver- day after day. The language available to us to describe the behaviours is the same as for any other child- meltdown is a term widely used these days, overload is assumed to mean they are a bit past their best. But when the parent of an Autistic child uses these words they mean something different. I have talked about meltdowns and sensory overload before here. Until you have lived with it, you just can't know how exhausting- physically and emotionally- it is. And that is just from the parents perspective! I read a great blog post today on how a meltdown feels to someone with ASD. It is on a blog called 'Aspie Warrior', and you can read it here. Supporting a child through the experience of a meltdown and helping meet their needs, while making sure your other kids needs and your own needs as a parent are also met is quite the juggling act some days!
Some days it just feels like you are barely keeping up. Or not even keeping up. Yet the pressure to do so much more as well is ever present. We *should* have a tidy house, washed clothes, kids homework done, healthy food on the table, bills paid on time, smiles firmly affixed, and everything looking "normal".
Well, I'm going to say here and now that I am tired of this kind of keeping up.
I am happy to make time to keep up with the important things my kids want to tell me at the end of a school day, and to keep up with the changes in policy that are affecting my kids education, to keep up with making sure my kids know they are valuable and loved, to keep up with maintaining relationships that are beneficial for myself and my family- the relationships where mutual support and understanding exists.
But I am over the type of keeping up that puts unnecessary pressure on me and my family to conform with the normal that makes others comfortable. I am by no means planning to start a new trend in unhygienic living- but I am going to be more aware from now on of my own reasons for doing things and be more careful to prioritise my time and energy expenditure. The washing and cleaning will wait. As will being the parent who is active in this and that and spends days racing here and there looking busy and supermum-ish. My kids need my attention now. They need me to have the energy to advocate for them. They need me to be rested enough to speak clearly and and truthfully on their behalf, and I'll not be spending my energy and time keeping up with societies expectations of me as a housekeeper and Stay-home-mum when I need it for more important things.
You have been warned!
Feel free to join me if you like!