When you become a parent, if you do it like me and have your first when you’re still living in the college town that you got trashed in every weekend, then it can be tough to transition to your new life. You find yourself trying to fit this new life in your old one. Of course it doesn’t work.
It actually blows up in your face quite spectacularly.
Still, you’ll try, and you’ll fail and you might become bitter and you’ll work through a whole mess of emotions because suddenly life is different and you have to become different.
One of the biggest obstacles is, if like me you’re the first of your friends to have kids, is figuring out how to relate on this new level you’re on. It’s no longer about anything familiar, because now its about this. And this new this in your life is everything. You can’t come up with the words for it, so when people ask how you are and how is that baby you say mundane things because your every day can be filled with the mundane repetitive nature that is tending to someone’s every need. Diapers, feeding, crying, why won’t you sleep, and how is this dirty again. You forget to put pants on or where your hairbrush is, and it’s so unlike the person you were that you lose friendships. It’s inevitable. Life becomes so much bigger.
Of course you knew that. Anyone who has ever birthed a person has reminded you of it.
Now turn the calendar pages because days have turn to months which have become years. Your child is older. Your days are different and so are your responsibilities. Your kid is pretty self-sufficient and then bam! you’ve got another baby. Here you are elbow deep in diapers again, but this time it’s different. You knew what to expect. You’re not changing a whole life to fit this one, but rather invited another into your nuthouse. And this one is sort of stabilizing you. Everyone is settling into their role; bedtimes are becoming more routine and you’re Mom and you’ve got this. Whatever it is, you’ve got it.
Now, let’s say you’re older child isn’t neurotypical. Your days are different than those who had babies at the same time as you. Your path took a different turn and instead of doing the expected things you’re juggling speech therapy and finding a specialized Pre-K program. You’re chasing your kid, navigating the playground, praying for some sort of conversation, because something as simple as eye contact is a victory. Life is different, but it’s your normal and as long as you don’t stare too long at what everyone else is doing then it’s just another Thursday. But soon you realize you’re a bit lonely. It’s tough to do the group activities because other parents don’t understand your kid and your kid doesn’t understand their kids. It’s a battle of social cues and conversation and your poor kid is losing at it. You’ve got meltdowns and sensory issues to worry over while they’re just heading to the park for a breather. Situations like that are not breathers for you. They are time to arm yourself to the best of your ability.
This time it’s not like the first time your life changed. It’s not about you this time. Now you do have friends with kids, but their kids are typical. They’re on track with their development. They might try to understand what you’re going through, but maybe words like autism scare them. You can’t fault them for it, but it grates on you to have to explain. To have to suddenly ease their worries. To have to run interference because your kid runs up to theirs and tackles them out of Too Much Everything.
All you want is unconditional acceptance for your child. That’s all anyone wants, but you’re starving for it. More than anything you want to be enough for them. To be able to take him to the park because he wants to play and not stand guard because he doesn’t understand when they ask questions, because please don’t throw sand, and that toy is not yours. To not have the other parents look and not have to explain the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum, and for the love of God, please don’t run in the street, because as funny as you may think it to be, I’m going to have a heart attack.
Just please, Playground Gods, let me be enough. Let him play and let me be enough.
Life continues to change and all you can hope for is to be lucky enough to have people committed to the ride. Committed to your nuthouse. It’s a loving sort of chaos. Otherwise known as Thursday.