Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I Learned From the Toilet

It seems as though the proverbial hurricane of the past week or more has hit land and was losing speed. The F5 tornado has been downgraded to our usual operating level of F3. Yes, the storm was lifting.

Yeah, I have been shut up in the house with the kids way too long. My ever-chatty in-house weather man, younger son, is wearing off on me. While cleaning an accident from our sick older son the other day, I attended Hurricanes 101 in our breakfast room courtesy of younger son.

These are the varied paths taken by Ike, Katrina, Wilma and Emily.

We seem to reference everything in relation to weather these days.

"Did he just barf?" my younger son has asked of his older brother this past week or so.

"Yep." I'd answer.

"Was it a hurricane or just a tropical storm?" he asked.

"More like a whiteout." This answer was very pleasing.

However, by yesterday afternoon, I saw a glimmer in our older son's eye that told me the storms were passing. We had weathered them.

I don't believe I breathed fire at anyone the entire time. Not even once.

With one child in bed and a chattier child dunking in the tub, I opened our bathroom door last night to discover this:

Yes, for sure, our older son was feeling more like himself. And, while I have only circumstantial evidence that this was the product of his doing, I have a mommy's intuition about this. This is not the first time that child has experimented with bubbles in the toilet.

Too tired to even deal with it, I closed the door with a giggle and walked away. (Thank you to my husband for cleaning it later). And, at this point, I must have mentally relaxed. Except for the powder room toilet, we were out of crisis. What a wonderful feeling!

I sat down on the couch in our family room, and the cold chills began.

For more than a year now, I have been battling symptoms similar to the flu and incredible fatigue. After countless tests and many doctors, I've been told that I have fibromyalgia. I don't know if I buy it (I'm a skeptic), however, I do see the connection too many times now, ten years into the life of special needs, that when I exit a time of crisis/stress in my house, my body shows that stress with physical symptoms that can leave me pretty useless for anywhere from a day to a week.

I'm writing about this because I know, I just KNOW, that there are other Mom Cave readers out there either similarly situated or have yet to hit this stage in their path. One thing that can be said about this blog, I would hope, is that it is an honest snapshot.

I am not Mother Theresa. I do not have super-human strength. I don't have super-human anything, for that matter. lol.

I am a mom. I'm a mom who has run hard and fast for a decade to carve out a glimmer of hope for the future of her children.

Early on, the psychologist that worked with out older son's early intervention team was watching me in action in our house. And, she said to me, "You just can't keep this pace."

"What?" I asked. I was shocked. I was HORRIFIED. She is the ultimate professional, a woman gifted at what she does. And, she called me out on something I had yet to see.

"You simply cannot keep running this hard. You will run yourself into the ground and make yourself sick." She said kindly yet with a hint of urgency in her voice.

"No way." I'm sure, in my head, I added an expletive. "I CAN do it. I will. And, you just watch me."

What I wanted to scream was that THIS IS MY SON! This is my child! I can't give up on him! If I don't fight, who will?

And, so, fight I have. I've done so with MUCH laughter, some wine, a great husband, a superb group of friends and a ssupportive family. And, still, over the years, my body has shown me that it has an opinion about the way my mind is approaching this.

Parents reading this blog will be able to remember the early days of parenting---when the newborn first came into the home. The stress of first-time parenting when we sleep with one eye open and one ear on the pillow for fear of SIDS or a fever or a cry we don't understand. Trying to figure out how, just HOW, does one make it to any function on time with a newborn fed, clean and dressed and you not looking like the walking dead? Yes, I'm talking about the adrenaline rush of those days.

I've never left it. My breath is constantly caught in my throat. I'm constantly primed and ready to dart at any time. And, now, my body is saying to me that it has had enough.

Cold chills, burning joints, aching muscles, numb feet and fatigue that will put you in bed for days: this is how my body feels about my approach to autism for the past ten years. When I am in the company of other autism parents, other common topics are ulcers, acid reflux, anxiety, depression, chronic insomnia and migraines.

Yes, one can say that I keep going in the name of my kids. One can say that I don't complain of the fatigue and that I find humor where I can to lift the mood. However, my glaring failure is that I don't stop.

To any parents in my shoes who happen to read this blog, I'm writing it for you. Maintenance, with the help of medication, vitamins, supplements and diet are all good things. But there is also one very important thing that I want to say:

Stopping is not a luxury. In fact, it is a requirement of the job that I have lacked. It is OKAY for us to figure out how to take a break from special needs.

In a little more than a week, a new school year will begin here in upstate New York. This is a skill that I am giving myself the task to learn.


  1. Proud of you for arriving at a critical juncture on your road! If you don't take care of yourself, you aren't worth as much to the boys. And, they deserve the opportunity to try without you on occasion. It will be a win/win situation. WIth love, Missy

  2. Missy--we can learn TOGETHER!!! (not-so-subtle hint!) Love you!!

  3. Good girl! (Why does saying that make me feel like I'm ninety-seven?) You really do have to take care of yourself. Flight attendants on airplanes instruct parents to put on their own oxygen masks before putting them on their children for a reason.

  4. Oh, and I know this is crazy, but I have a really strong desire to dump a box of Mr. Bubble into my toilet now.

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