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Mom, Are You Sad?

by Anne of "Glass Half Full"
Photo by: Shutterstock

Monday night was not a good night. The worst I have had in a while, actually.

Our routine has been slightly (read: so-much-more-than-slightly) “off” these last several days. We have had a little bit going on at our house, not going into detail on that, but the point is – holy crap, we are a little stressed.

I believe all of this culminated into what I’m referring to as the “Epic Meltdown of ’13.”

The boys and I were happily playing outside. Easton would literally stay outside all the live-long day if we let him. But, alas, it was time to go inside for bath and bed.

And the Epic Meltdown began. It was more than just crying. It was more than a temper tantrum. It was screaming to a level that actually made me cringe and want to cover my ears. He was definitely mad about coming inside, but there was something else. Something, I don’t know what. All I know is he was rubbing the top of his head obsessively and screaming. He was grabbing tissues and rubbing his head. He was scratching at it. He was grabbing my hand to apply pressure to it (the only thing that made him stop screaming). If I so much as moved my hand, he would grab it and pull it toward his head.

But he could not tell me why.

I searched his hair for a bug, a blade of grass, a speck of dirt (yes, those are the types of things that would make him freak out). I saw nothing.

He screamed like this for a little over an hour. The only moment of silence in that entire hour was when I sat next to the bathtub and put my hand on his head. But I eventually had to get him out of the bath, and the non-stop screaming continued.

About 45 minutes in, I lost it. I started crying.

I looked over and Keegan was watching me. I don’t like him to see me crying, so I tried to calm myself down.

“Mom, are you sad?”

“No, I’m not sad, Keegan. I’m just really frustrated. I want to help your brother, but I don’t know how. He can’t tell me what’s wrong and I just wish he could.” In hindsight, a more accurate answer would have been, “Yes, I am a little sad.“



“Do you think the neighbors can hear him?”

“Yes, I know they can. What do you think they’re thinking right now?”

(Shrugs) “I don’t know. Probably wondering what’s going on.”

“Yes, I’m sure they are. Does your brother frustrate you sometimes, too?”

“I guess. Sometimes.”

At this point, it was time for bed. And at this point, the melting down was getting worse, although I didn’t know it was possible.

The boys share a room. Keegan got in bed and was trying to talk to his brother about getting into bed, too. In response, Easton hit him. I took his hand, told him “no” and said, “I’m really sorry he hit you, Keegan. He doesn’t mean to hurt you, he’s just really frustrated and overtired”

“It didn’t hurt, Mom. Easton, we know you’re tired. You just need to go to bed and then you’ll feel better.”

For him to finally stop screaming, I had to lie in bed with Easton on top of me, my hands pressing on his head.

And then I completely and totally broke down crying. The quiet cry. You know, the kind where you’re trying to stifle it so no one hears you. That kind.

“Are you okay?” Keegan whispered.

It totally caught me off guard. My oldest child, the one I always say is oblivious to everything, noticed my quiet crying from his bed across the room. And here’s the shameful part of this whole thing. The entire time I was thinking, “Dammit. Sometimes, I HATE AUTISM.“

If you look back at my previous posts, I am pretty adamant about saying, “Autism is a part of my son. I wouldn’t change him for anything. He is who he’s supposed to be.” And yet, Monday night, in one of my weakest moments, I hated autism.

It is part of him. It doesn’t define him, but to know him, you must know autism.

Autism is intriguing, fascinating, and amazing.

And autism is heartbreaking, complicated, and all-consuming.

I love Easton, but do I always love autism? Absolutely not.

And that, my friends, is my “April is Autism Awareness Month” post. Not what I originally had in mind. I wanted to write something uplifting, something about my perfectly abnormal kid. But it’s honest. And honestly, I am very, very aware of autism these days.

Anne is the mom of two stubborn, smart, hilarious boys; one with autism. She writes about the ups and downs of parenting on her blog, Glass Half Full.

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