I think I’m a good mom. My son is autistic and parenting him is really tough sometimes, but I finally feel that I do it well. I really believe that, but he’s seven, it has been a long road to this point and I don’t want anyone to think I believe I’ve been perfect at this job, because I certainly haven’t been.
Just a few years ago, I used to throw cold water on my son when his tantrums got out of control. It’s embarrassing to admit that, but it was the routine of a desperate mommy and it’s real life. I’d love to tell you that nothing else worked and that the water calmed him down, but that really isn’t true.
My son used to hit us a lot. He also kicked and slapped and threw his toys and screamed and bashed things around in his room, sometimes in the middle of the night.
It almost doesn’t matter why. Maybe some step in his routine was forgotten or a bowl was the wrong color. Maybe we turned on the water before he got into the tub, instead of after. Who knows?
What is important is that his tantrums made me feel like he controlled our house. I couldn’t stand it. When he hit me I felt humiliated and abused. And he was only four. I wasn’t going to hit him back, so I threw water. Wielding a cup of it above his head made me feel for a split second like I was in charge, not him.
The feeling didn’t last. The moment I drenched him I always felt like a cheap, unoriginal piece of crap. No creativity. No control. No patience. No right to be a parent. And my son would go crazy. Crazy.
His screams would get worse. The toy tossing would get worse. The hitting would get worse. And he learned to say “No throw a water.” My heart would break and I would run my monster self into the office cave to hide from him.
Once there I would sit and cry, sometimes to a friend on the phone, but mostly to myself. And all the while he would be in the hall outside the door feeling abandoned, on top of being angry and wet. I was a horrible mom.
Those days are gone and I’ve learned a million techniques for dealing with his upsets, but I confess that on occasion all I think to do is yell right back at him. I am human and I have my limits. He makes me crazy and sometimes I can’t think clearly enough to come up with a rational course of action, so I don’t.
I think I’m committing this to my blog in the tiny hope that another parent with a kid on the spectrum will find it and feel better somehow, but I realize that’s an egotistical dream that might not come true. For whatever it’s worth, I guess I thought you regular folks should hear it too.