Yesterday started badly. We had an autism morning. My son became quiet, uncooperative and impossible to engage. He wouldn’t look at me, he wouldn’t hear me, he wouldn’t do anything I asked of him. For about forty minutes he retreated. I was in a bad mood too and that didn’t help. When the time to leave for school arrived, he was still standing in the family room, basically naked. I had pulled off his jammies when he failed to do it himself, but my haste, and the resulting sight of him in just his socks, only served to embarrass me and make me mad at both of us. I told him he was going to school naked. That upset him. At least he had a reaction, but I felt like a monster for saying it.
After several bursts of my raised voice, then guilt-infused cooing and return to raised voice, I finally stomped from the room in defeat against his motionless silence. He stared into nothing, or everything, and I started to cry. I couldn’t pull him back. Sometimes I can’t pull him back for an hour or more and it scares me and makes me sad. Yesterday was one of those days. I dreaded taking him to school. I hate to leave him with someone else when one of us is at our worst. This time we were both down for the count, but I knew that I needed a break and would be no good to him without it. I bribed him with some chocolate milk and gummy snacks and managed to get him dressed. We got out the door and made it to school with moments to spare. I cried all the way there and all the way home.
When lunchtime rolled around, I responded to my autism morning with a quest for comfort food. Too much pizza later, I felt even worse. The day rolled on and I accomplished little. The morning had set the tone. I picked up my son from school and learned that his aide had called in sick. In the absence of a shepherd, my little sheep had wet his pants. It broke my heart. The teacher handed him over in someone else’s shorts.
Once we returned to our house I managed to engage him in his homework. He is good at math and he seemed to come alive when I praised him for finishing each addition problem. By the end of the worksheets he was himself again. Or he was that other boy, however you look at it.
Unfortunately, I was still paying the price for my midday binge. I felt hot, lethargic and sick to my stomach. Oh, and crabby. Did I say crabby? I was crabby. I tried to wrangle myself out of the mood, but I couldn’t really wrangle myself out of the pizza, so it was useless. I felt gross all day and as I type this I know it will be a long time before I eat pizza again. As the day wound down I felt a little better. I even got a little bit hungry around 8:30, so I had a bowl of cereal. I instantly regretted it. I just ate too much food yesterday. Portion control has always been my biggest challenge.
At bedtime I still didn’t feel well and I knew I was in for a night of vivid and frustrating dreams. True to my prediction, I had several. In the worst of them my dad was still alive (a good thing), but my brother had died (not so good). The whole dream was about realizing his death and coping with the immediate loss of him. I can’t think of anything to say about this dream other than that it completely sucked and I hated it from start to finish. When I woke up in a sweat around 2:20 a.m. I was exhausted, still sick to my stomach and intensely mad at myself, but genuinely relieved to have my eyes open. Damn pizza. Damn binge. Damn old habits. I got up for a few minutes to shake off the sadness of the dream and then I crawled back in bed and slept until the morning.
Today, my son and I started over, just like always. He went to school and I had a pleasant day of lunch and shopping with my mom. It’s now 4:00 p.m. and I’m almost done forgiving myself for the failures of the past 36 hours. It’s a process, you know.