Yesterday I told my son to shut up. Yes, my autistic son.
And it wasn't a quick demand. It was drawn out... Shut.... Up.... and it was loud.
I could have slapped him across the face and he would have looked less stunned.
Did I feel awful? Yes. Am I still kicking myself for doing it? Yea...
My hours changed where I work. I used to be able to go in after my husband got home. Since January, I've had to start at 5 pm and that means taking the kids and putting them in the babysitting room at work for an hour or so while Rich makes his way through traffic.
I dare not leave them home alone yet. Surely, I was babysitting by the age of twelve but that was over 30 years ago. Things are different today. Life is different.
Besides, the uncertainty of Rich's commute is too great. He works too far away from home. Most days his drive is a breeze. But there are those times... the accident, the weather, the construction... that will wreak havoc along the way.
What if Sean freaks out because the phone rang? What if one of the girls gets hurt? What if the doorbell rings and they answer it?
Too much to think about... Too many "what ifs"....
So I bring them to the babysitting room on the nights I work. Sean doesn't like to go. He barely gets off the bus and we have to get ready to leave. He needs his down time.
Yesterday was just one of those days. Sean was exhausted. He wanted to stay home and relax. Carissa and Ashley were fine with going but Ashley was upset about the intrusion into her sacred playtime with Carissa that the drive would cause. I had other things on my mind and a million things on my to-do list.
The last thing I needed was resistance from the troops.
Sean put his coat on first and zippered. Ashley started crying because Sean had won the coat-putting-on contest that only she is allowed to triumph at.
When Ashley started crying, Sean got upset. He gets frustrated with her because he doesn't know why she cries or screams. He'll yell back at her, "Ashley, what do you want?!" You can almost hear the crack in his voice, see the tears in his eyes.
It's so hard to go to work - something that I have to do - knowing that I have to put Sean through a difficult transition and the girls have to be uprooted in the middle of their playtime.
But I have to do what I have to do. And I only work a few nights a week.
So yesterday while trying to get out the door, trying to hurry along in order to avoid being late due to construction, Ashley started crying and Sean started to scream.
And I shouted.
And I instantly felt bad.
Not because I lost my cool. I'm human. I am not Super Mom.
But because I knew why Ashley was crying... and I knew why Sean was shouting.
And for a split-second, I did not give my son...my autistic son... the compassion and understanding that he deserves.
The look on his face said it all and no apology or hug could ever erase that.