Wednesday 29 July 2015

Postcard from my not so 'normal' family

This evening I am sitting here looking out over the rolling hills and mountains from our bedroom window at our holiday cottage here’s the view I have....Stunning isn’t it?

Well if this was a holiday postcard, what would I be telling you about?

The weather... it’s been pretty pants most of the week!
The cottage..... remote is not the word! (But that’s how we like it)
And I would be telling you all the lovely places we have been to and seen this week.
But this is no postcard from a normal family lol!!
My little man has been pretty hyper to say the very least for most of our time here. Holidays are never easy for him as there is so much unstructured time, new places and changes to his routine to cope with. 
And today I am sorry to say I lost it. You see being completely honest with you, at times  my son challenges my patience and inner Zen ! He makes me think about things in ways I could never have imagined before he was born.  It’s not like he looks like he’s Autistic, or is in a wheelchair. So that challenges my concept of disability and how to deal with ‘challenging behaviour’. Because when he becomes stressed and anxious like he did today, his hyperactive and impulsive behaviours ramps up and up.....  and up!! This is really hard to get your head around isn’t it?  And even harder to remember in the heat of the moment.
So in the car on the way to the castle today; despite the day ahead being planned, he was clearly struggling and his behaviour was becoming more challenging on the journey. To the point that when we arrived he was spitting, hitting out and had gone for his sisters several times. I sit in the back with them all to keep them safe and out of his reach but I ended up scraping my backside along a part of the seatbelt that was sticking out in the process.  Owwwwwwww!!! Internally I was screaming but gritted my teeth and carried on regardless.
Then eventually we found a car park after driving through the busy town centre for 10 minutes and my husband parked the car, only to discover that he didn’t have enough change for the bloody car park machine. So he started to walk right across the car park to get some change. I managed to get his sisters out of the car (they were well and truly fed up by this point, one of whom was crying.)
I then got my little man out, well more accurately he kinda jumped out, and he continued to take his anxiety out on them barging into them and running around in-between the parked cars, he was becoming unsafe in the car park. So I lost it. I didn’t scream or shout I just pulled him off his sister and into back into the car where I then sat with my head in my hands. Hands shaking, adrenaline flowing and my heart rate soaring.
It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t my fault. I just needed to breathe and calm down away from everyones glare.  Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, and then under my breath I sighed “sometimes ....just sometimes can’t we be a normal bloody family” and he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said “sorry mum it’s not my fault it looks so busy.”
It floored me. What had I done my poor son, to my poor daughters? This was bonkers.  People may or may not have been looking at me and my child in the car park. But I allowed myself to be overpowered by the pressure of the situation, and I had put pressure on myself to ‘do something’ I gave him a big squeeze but I just couldn’t talk.
My husband then appeared waving a ticket and I took the opportunity to escape saying I needed to go to the loo. I ran in the ladies to compose myself, pull myself together and move on. No tears... just head down, don’t give me eye contact or ill cry, I need to sort my head out kinda loo break.... you know the one!
Anyway all was fine, I pulled myself together and went back out to my family, and we ended up having a nice day when he eventually found his stride. It’s a bloody rollercoaster this mum stuff. One minute you’re up the next your down and all the time you’re trying to hold it all together and appear 'normal!'
It breaks my heart cos I know I can’t always be there to protect him from judgement, as his condition is largely hidden and so complex. And its scares me that if even I as his mother find it hard sometimes to accept things and see what his behaviour is telling me, how can I expect other people that may look and stare at him to better understand how his autism affects his daily level of functioning? He doesn’t walk around with an “I am Autistic” t-shirt on.
And sometimes just sometimes I lose my patience cos I am human. His few words made me realise what I had done. It’s my job to teach him how to cope in situations like that not punish him for when he can’t. So although in that split second I wanted 'normal'..... I cant help but wonder what is normal anyway??
So I am going to take my own advice and be kinder to myself. I make mistakes and get things wrong. Today was one of those days. But I won’t dwell. I am going to move on and enjoy the rest of the week despite the crappy weather with my wonderfully crazy,  not so 'normal' family!

Mrs M x

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