We all have good and bad days, but some seem worse than others. So much of our time is spent talking about our experiences, sharing what went wrong with another in hopes of finding support and comfort. Just the other day, I was talking with another mom, and she claimed that she had the absolute worst day. As a concerned friend, I asked if she wanted to talk about it. She proceeded to tell me all about how she found this new recipe that she wanted to try out, so she went to the grocery store to buy all of the ingredients. She then proceeded to make her casserole only to forget it in the oven and burn it. I almost laughed out loud…are you kidding me? An overcooked casserole is your “absolute worst” day??
While we are both mothers and I consider her to be my friend, I can’t identify with this woman at all right now. In fact, I am jealous and almost angry that she does not have anything worse in her life to complain about. You see, while we are both moms, I am the mom of a child with Autism. My days are not spent trying out new recipes, but rather driving from therapy to therapy and putting out fires along the way. I can’t complain about sitting in the carpool line because my child is not developmentally or socially ready for school. So I spend each and every long day running between therapies and home, struggling to try help him in the limited ways that I know how. I feel like a hamster spinning around in its wheel, constantly working and trying to only fail and not get anywhere. I am overwhelmed and exhausted.
My bad day doesn’t have casseroles in it. Gosh I would be so thankful for the time and opportunity to actually cook something new and exciting…or just to cook anything at all!! Instead, I will watch my child spin in the corner and then line up his toy cars in a perfect row and have a complete meltdown if one is out of place. I’ll play the same scene from a movie over and over because he will scream at the top of his lungs if I don’t. I’ll watch him lick the metal of our stainless steel appliances and know that it is not appropriate, but not know how to get him to stop. I’ll make him a dinner of plain Eggo waffles because he has oral sensory issues and won’t accept any foods of color or different textures, meanwhile not having any clue what the rest of my family will eat because I have not had time to plan. The worst is when I go to hug him and tell him goodnight…I hear no response from him and he stiffens at my touch and is unresponsive. Oh how my heart breaks and aches for normalcy in these moments…THIS is my “bad” day.
My days are long and hard, full of stress, tears, and worry. I live in crisis and fear for my child’s future. Autism is uncertain and therefore so scary. But I don’t want pity and I am not going to let this fear take control. I have recently discovered RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) and I know that my journey is changing. I am learning more about how to Guide my child, how to better connect with him and foster a meaningful relationship. I have found my path, my mission, my purpose and I am hopeful for the first time in a while. I know that through RDI, my days will eventually look and feel different. I am ready to fight and feel empowered to help my child reach his fullest potential.
Maybe the time will come when life feels different. Maybe it won’t consist of occupational, speech, and physical therapies. Maybe we’ll go to the movies and watch something new together. Maybe we’ll play cops and robbers with the cars instead of stacking them in a line. Maybe he’ll say he loves me and hug me back. Maybe food will become colorful again…and maybe, just maybe one day, I’ll get to try to make a new casserole. Only if it burns, it won’t be the “absolute worst” day ever…it will be a moment to stop and be thankful.