Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When I get super fatigued, as I was earlier today, there inevitably comes a point when I pass by myself in the bathroom mirror and stop. Who am I, I ask. Why am I?

The answer comes back the same these days, if I'm honest with myself. If you can't be honest with your own reflection you should probably seek professional help. Who am I? I am a survivor who kept alive and whole through emotional and mental storms. I came through cancer, through abuse, through despair so black that I thought I would be swallowed up by it. I came through the learning of myself. I can tell the difference between brutal honesty and self-hatred when I examine my character flaws. I am a melodramatic-prone storyteller who learned to put those things aside and be a supportive wife capable of sucking up and coping with reality when it comes to the wire, so that my husband can worry only about his military career and our children- not whether or not I'll fall apart and be useless in caring for those children who will not understand for many years (if ever) why Daddy has to go away sometimes. Sometimes for very long times. I am also a mother. If I didn't care, I would be less tired, and not as good a mother.

This evening I saw paperwork coming through with the official results from the preschooler's psych evaluation. She's "officially" autistic. Although she was so non-cooperative with the official IQ testing as to present below-normal, the shrink says that it's definitely not an accurate assessment of intelligence and the likelihood (she told me privately, not on the report) is that she's really fairly bright. Which presents it's own set of challenges for me. Between the medical and the developmental, and where is the line between those two because I sure can't find it, I read that report and say to myself, "no wonder I'm so tired". I saw the mother of another child in the preschool program dealing with her mobile younger child and the autistic student. She looked every inch of what I felt as her son was displaying tantrum behavior and trying to do his own thing. Grim, non-humorous. Just trying to get the child safely from one point to another, to go about the business of daily living without losing her sanity or temper. I guess she learned what I learned; losing our tempers doesn't do any good. Being impatient doesn't do any good. If the child sees us upset they get more upset. We lock down the negative side of things, and with that in mind it's kinda amazing that the positive side doesn't get atrophied as well.

But that's the thing- those positive things, the smiles and laughs and moments when the child is biddable and sweet. Those moments we appreciate like gold and treasure those moments deeply because they are so rare and fragile. Don't let them go, whatever we do, because we'll need those memories to get through the next twenty years.

One set of papers I have gotten over the past couple of weeks says why we need "x" hours of respite care per month on the preschooler. It's because that she, though not mentally retarded, requires the same level of supervision on every level. I've learned to be hyper alert when it comes to her mental swings. Hyper alert, but relaxed all at the same time- sounds contradictory but it's not in practice. I know where she is almost all the time and what she's doing. I know the not-sounds of her getting into mischief. I know she's bright enough to be horribly frustrated at her body's lack of cooperation with speech and language. Her body won't cooperate, she feels like it's failed her although she doesn't know how to frame that coherently yet. I know the feeling. My body has been failing me for years.

I remind myself that it really hasn't, though. It successfully produced two living offspring. For someone who was told that she would never even conceive these children, that's a miracle. I'm all about the miracles.

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