Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Controlling the Control Freak

I did something the other day that was completely against my control freak nature.  It was against every fiber of my DNA… against every cell of my being.

I walked away and let someone else handle Sean.

I know!!!!


Believe me, it wasn’t easy at all.

My stomach still has that sick feeling in the pit of it from that day.

But everything’s ok and that’s the important thing.

Sean was having a horrible day at high school.  He called me after 1st period and told me about how hard his class was.  He was down… felt he couldn’t do anything without asking someone for help.

I told him to shake it off…it’s Friday….the class is over…go on and have a good rest of the day.

I thought that was it.

And then he called again an hour or so later.

He was trying to hold himself together.  Finally he got to a bathroom and started sobbing.

Math had done him in.  He had a test and he felt like he couldn’t do the problems.  He had no idea what they were about.

It was gut wrenching to listen to.  Absolutely gut wrenching.

Sean needed to pee.  That’s his “go-to” thing when he’s overwhelmed.

He needs to pee….

I had visions of the cell phone falling into the toilet so I instructed him to hang up with me, go pee, and then to head down to Student Services where I knew he could talk to someone.

Student Services and the nurse’s office were supposed to be Sean’s “safe zone.”

I told him to call me back as soon as he was done pee’ing.

He hung up.

And then silence.

I called down to Student Services to tell them to expect Sean.

But Sean never arrived and he never called.

I was freaking out.  Why didn’t I stay on the phone with him?  Where was he? 

I had my sobbing son on the phone with me while he was in the bathroom and I told him to hang up on me.

What was I thinking???

I called down to Student Services in between trying to get through on Sean’s cell phone.

They hadn’t seen him yet.  Did I know which bathroom he was in?


Why didn’t I ask him?

The minutes ticked by while the school had security do a bathroom sweep.

They finally found him… in class.  Meltdown or not, Sean was still worried about missing his next period.

Nothing like sticking to a routine, huh?

The staff brought him out and down to Student Services where a bunch of people spoke with him about everything that was going on…his classes, the bullying, his life.

They called in the Cavalry and I was thrilled.  Oh, not because Sean had a meltdown.  Rather, so Sean could see that there’s a whole team there to help him when he needs it.  I hope he knows that now.

You’re probably wondering where the control freak in me is in this story, aren’t you?

While this was all going on, I called Rich at work.

“Sean’s missing.  He’s upset.  What should I do?”

Rich said I should go to school…see what I could do.

I grabbed my cell phone and ran out the door.  I arrived at the high school in just a few minutes.

I pulled into the parking lot…maneuvered into a space….

And sat there.

I wanted to go in.  I wanted to find him myself and hug him tight and tell him that everything was going to be ok.

But I sat there instead.

Then I backed my car up…pulled out into the high school driveway…and drove away.

It killed me inside.

What if I was doing the wrong thing?  What if they didn’t know how to handle him? 

Sean’s only been there a couple of months.  How would they know what to say or do to calm him?

Do I turn back?

I drove home and waited.  They said they would call after they got done talking with him.

So I waited.

And then waited some more.

Every minute was like torture. 

I didn’t know what was going on and for anyone who knows me, knows that that kills me.

Kills me…

After a couple of hours I finally gave in to my instincts and called the school.  Sean was fine and back in class.  His schedule was going to be altered and some more help put into place.

Everything was ok…or going to be.

And aside from a few phone calls, I didn’t have to do a thing.  Other people handled it and they did just fine. 

Imagine that?

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not about to give up my title of Ultimate Control Freak. 

But maybe next time I won’t beat myself up in the car so much about not being there.

Then again, maybe next time I’ll just run into the damn school!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another 'A' Word

The other night I was talking with another mom.  We were discussing the “early” years with Sean. 

What a trip down memory lane!  Not one that I wanted to take but necessary all the same.  Now that he’s 14 years old and mainstreamed it’s important that I don’t forget those times.

Then again, how could I?

It was hard…so, so hard.  And it wasn’t just one moment or one day or one year.  It was years and years.

Sometimes I still think it’s hard but talking with that mom… today is a cakewalk compared to back then.

When I say it was difficult I’m not necessarily talking about dealing with Sean.  Sure, the three-hour long tantrums were daily or more than daily.  I remember the scrapes and the bruises…the broken mirror still exists.

I remember how I couldn’t touch him or else he’d swat at me or the hours we’d spend in silence because it was too much for him to hear our voices.

But all of that wasn’t what had me sitting at the kitchen table every day and crying.


It was the schools…the “professionals” who knew better…and all those people who had an opinion and just had to let me know it – especially if it was negative.

How many times have you been told that you needed to be a better parent?

How many?

Is there a parent of an autistic child out there who hasn’t been told that?  Is there??

I doubt it.

I went through a hell that was undeserved, unwarranted and almost killed me.

It took a long time to get Sean diagnosed.  It wasn’t because I was in denial or anything.  Oh, I knew.  For a very long time I knew.

It was everybody else I had to convince.

You can ask for evaluations and they “fall through the cracks.”

You can visit psychologists and they will tell you that they can cure your child in 3 or 4 visits…. I just need to discipline Sean more.

Or you hear from friends that if only I had socialized Sean more…taken him to restaurants or hauled him all over the place… that he wouldn’t be like he is.

You can ask for letters to give to the hospital regarding your son’s behaviour and then find out that the person ripped you and your parenting skills apart in them.

And then, of course, are the people who blamed me for using fertility treatments when “God intended me to be infertile.” 

It was always my fault. 

I had one professional tell me that Sean manipulated me…that I spent too much time with him.

They told me to put him in daycare and get a job.

Nice, huh?

Who they hell are they???  Seriously?

But they get to you.  The comments get to you. 

You’ve been a bad parent and now look what you’ve done to your child.

They eat away at your soul, your spirit.

And you just want to die.

That’s what kept me at the kitchen table all those days.  I’d sit there all day…paralyzed…staring out the patio doors with tears streaming down my face.

And I’d wonder…

Would Sean be better off without me?

I could never leave him.  No….

The only way I’d leave my son was to kill myself.


You read that right.

You get beaten down by the people around you…family, friends, the “professionals”… and you get to that dark place and you don’t know how to get out of it.

So yes, it got that bad.  It was that hard.

And it had nothing to do with Sean’s autism.

It had nothing to do with the meltdowns, the doctors, all the what-ifs of autism and had everything to do with the assholes in life.

That’s what they are…Assholes.

Eventually you realize that. 

I realized that.

And they didn’t know better.

I did.

I was Sean’s mom.  I didn’t cause his autism.  It wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t going to let the world blame me anymore.

And you know what?

I’m a damn good parent.

So screw them.

I eventually stopped crying and got up from my kitchen table.  I stopped letting them get to me and I started fighting back.

And I found my voice.

Thank God I found my voice.

So if you get to that point where I was and you feel that “alone” that is so scary to feel, then I’m here to tell you that you’re not.

Our kids may be on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Our lives may be vastly different.  But the frustration, the anger, and the guilt… it’s all the same.

While some may not admit it… I will.

I’ve been there.

And that’s why I write.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Am I THAT mom? Hell yea!

The “Big Night” finally arrived…

It was Homecoming for Sean at the high school.  Huge event.

I knew this day was coming but agonized over what to do…how it would go down.  Dang, I sound like a cop.

Would he go with a date?  Would he go with a group like most high school kids do nowadays?  Would he go alone?

Would he go at all?

Would he care?

When Sean brought up the idea my husband said, “No.”  I’m not sure if “absolutely not” was added but you get the idea.

I don’t think my husband ever went to Homecoming.

But Sean wanted to go.

And I wanted him to change his mind.

He didn’t.

Thus, off I went to school one day to buy his Homecoming ticket.  It cost only $15 so if he changed his mind it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

But he didn’t.

And Rich and I were left wondering what to do.  All sorts of things ran through our heads…imagined and real horrors of experiencing high school dances way back in the 80’s when security was lax.

Drinking, smoking, kids making out….

Now it was my turn to say “Absolutely not!”

But I didn’t.

No… instead I volunteered to help out that night.

Yep, you read that right.  Helicopter Mom to the rescue!  Some of my family chastised me for my altruistic efforts.  My friends made fun of me.

“Cut the chord.”

“Let him have a life.”

“Don’t be THAT mom!”

But I am.  I am that mom who worries and wonders.  I am that mom who wants to be there for their child…needed or not.

And so I was. 

I put my best respectable mom clothes on, some semi-sturdy shoes, and volunteered to work at the dance.

OK, give me some credit…  I asked to be far away from the action…in the coat checkroom.  At least I didn’t volunteer to watch over the dance floor from the balconies!

I could have but I’m sure if I actually witnessed what went on on the dance floor…well, I’m positive this would have been his LAST Homecoming Dance!

Set up in a corner of the cafeteria, I worked a glorious three hours checking in six-inch heels and babysitting cell phones. 

Sean came by a couple of times – looking amazingly handsome in his borrowed tie - to tell me how his night was going.  Did he dance?  Yes.  Was it with a girl?  Sometimes.

For the most part though he hung out in the lobby.  The music was too loud in the gym and it hurt his ears.  Next time he wants to wear earplugs. 

Next time?  Seriously?  I have to endure all the what-ifs of tonight all over again? 

To quote Sean… “Great”… but put a groan on the end of mine.

As the night came to a close and the tie came off, I asked Sean if he had a good time.  He did.  He was so excited to experience a major milestone of being a teenager in high school…going to his first Homecoming Dance.

It wasn’t the experience of most of the kids that night.  No big groups of dancing sweaty kids.  No shouts of “Seniors! Seniors!” from the dance floor.  No sneaking off to the back staircase for a quick kiss (at least I hope not!).

He was by himself the majority of the night….pacing at the top of the stairs leading to the gym… alone amongst over a thousand of his classmates.

But he was there and that was the most important thing for him…being there.  Oh, and of course, all the girls, too!

And I got to be there as well…safely tucked away…but always at the ready.

I am, after all, THAT mom.