Monday, May 2, 2011

For Better or For Worse

My husband and I are sitting next to each other on our family room couch. The tension in the air is thick, and we are both exhausted.

It is the calm after the storm.

We argued not long ago over something that probably didn't deserve the energy, but the argument is never really about what it is about, is it? I was "riding his ass(ets)". He was being "insensitive."

Cringeworthy. It's so cliche.

The bottom line is that each person is giving his and her all, and the needs keep on coming.

I will admit that our arguments are few--much fewer than they were in the early days when we were still adjusting to this life and defining our roles. Those early days were hard on every front.

For better or for worse, we promised our lives in marriage to each other all those years ago. What we didn't know, on that blissful wedding day, was that we would be tested with "worse" so quickly, and that even our definition of "better" would forever be redefined.

The divorce rate for marriages of parents to autism hovers somewhere over 80 percent. I can understand why. The disability has ripple effects on many levels. It touches many people, creates many problems and it is all thrown back onto the shoulders of the parents.

Sometimes, like tonight, the pressure is so great we just need to release it.

And, no, I'm not worried about my marriage. Little did I know that when I decided to marry my boyfriend all those years ago, I was also marrying an excellent father to special needs. We have had our tension, but with two children and multiple special needs, so far we have weathered the storms.

I watched some of the royal wedding this past week as I prepared our older son for school. I would measure his medicines the watch a little of the wedding. Write in the communication log, then watch a little wedding. I'm surprised I actually got him out the door on time.

Amidst all the incredible fanfare was a happy young couple with the look of joy on their faces, a look that I would only hope for them to have. I wore that look on my wedding day. I think that I still have it, too, buried somewhere under the pressures of daily life.

If the Mom Cave is good for nothing else, may it be counted upon for straight talk. it goes:

I always look at newlyweds and send a silent wish to them to enjoy the stage before having children. Savor the romance and the freedom. Because once children enter the picture, so, too enters the whirlwind of midnight feedings, sleeplessness, baby playgroups, insanely large plastic toys, dancing lessons, karate, swim lessons, soccer, school plays, a slew of disposable pets, birthday parties for them, birthday parties for friends, birthday parties for classmates they barely know, bigger cars to haul all the stuff, battles over what food will absolutely not be eaten today, the reality that you are no longer cool, hair loss, back pain, functional clothing, earlier bedtime, out-of-date music and comfortable chairs.

Heaven forbid one or more children has special needs. Then you add to the mix things like seizures, chronic pain, melt downs, multiple dosings of medicine throughout the day, incontinence, feces smearing, tics, compulsive behaviors or aggression.

Parenting is tough. No wonder my husband and I snapped at each other tonight. I should really just turn to him now and tell him what a great job he is doing. This family couldn't survive without him.

Hmmm. Still sitting here on the couch and haven't said a word. I'm not good at humility. Note to self: Tell husband he is doing a great job some time in the next few days.

Sadly, I am a work in progress who married a patient man.

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