Every so often, I tell my family that I am taking the day off. Even mom's need time to re-charge their batteries. To be able to take care of our families, we moms need some time to enjoy non-mom and non-wife things. Kids and husbands don't always realize it, but they get a lot more play time than their wives and mothers. (I'm not sure how this works in same-sex relationships... and I'd be interested to know if one partner feels like a traditional "mom" and needs to set boundaries down harder to take a day off...)
I prepared the kid earlier this week that Saturday was going to be an "entertain yourself day". or at least a "don't expect mom to succumb to your every whim day". I told the kid, of course, that I'd provide three meals for him, but snackage was his responsibility (and possibly my nightmare). I also reminded him that I'll be around for boo-boo mending, but otherwise, pretend your mom is at the spa.
I said the similar lines to my husband. His response was supportive, with a hint of "why is she telling me this?" because he doesn't truly realize how difficult it is for me to get away. That's understandable since he's sequestered more often than not in his convalescent area (aka our bedroom). He'd love to need to day off instead of dreaming of having everyday on, so to speak.
I thought I had everyone prepared. Thought being the operative word. You see, my little social aspie creature, who a year ago would be happy to go an entire day without having to have a conversation with anyone around him has turned the opposite direction. The poor child is used to having someone entertain him in some way, shape or form. He's spent the past few months with family and/or friends, visiting or being visited, at home doing something extraordinarily fun or out and about doing summery things. It's great and has been a huge distraction in the absence of his father from his daily life, but it does not bode well when we have a chance for down-time... or I have a chance for down-time.
While I got to sleep in until eleven in the morning (sleeping in was more like I couldn't be roused due to sheer exhaustion), I haven't had much other time off. As a matter of fact, I spent the greater portion of today doing what I always do. Then when I reminded said kid about said day off for mama, he promptly called his aunt to tell her I needed him to go spend the night with her. Cause, you know, I'm taking the day off?
She wasn't game and she shouldn't have to be. My boy has plenty of independent play skills (despite him forgetting he has them) along with plenty of games, books, movies and toys to provide a rich, fun experience when no one is around to play with him. Instead, he was bored (which is code for "help me cope with not getting my expectations met").
And he started to meltdown... so Mom swooped in, took him outside where he was more able to keep himself together. We reviewed the misery which is his life (Sam's not home, Dad is having a bad pain day and Moster said no to staying the night). I told some stories of my childhood that revolved around having to entertain myself when I didn't want to. I'm not sure those stories help as much as the change of scenery and talking being used as a way to cope do.
I love that my kid is relishing in socialization while hating that he isn't prone to moderation. It's all or nothing. One extreme to the next... for now. The boy has learned a lot in the past year, especially in the past three or so months. He's been asked to deal with a huge amount of stress, more than any kid should have to bear. Through it all, he's been absolutely amazing considering all life has thrown our way... thrown his way.
Now that Daddy is out of the woods as far as he knows, we are seeing the kid's stress manifest in strange new ways, like this no longer being able to keep himself company anymore and not wanting any downtime at all. He's all go-go-go these days. Of course, that makes it harder for me to take any breaks because either I'm going with him, shadowing him with his peers and on the days he's sleeping over at my sister's, I'm running the husband to appointments, running errands and taking care of non-kid related things.
I knew he's been in sorta Asperger's pressure cooker all this time. I just didn't know what the result would be or when the lid would blow off-- I just knew eventually we'd find out! Well, this is part of it. The child doesn't want to be alone... at all. This isn't anxiety related, or not like it was before the Paxil (irrational fears keeping him prisoner), but its something. It's not wanting time to dwell on the what ifs, perhaps?
In any case, I'm trying hard to help him cope through this period, to remind him of his wonderful imagination and other outlets he has that are fun, yet independent. And I am encouraging him to do little things with his dad, like have lunch in bed together. As a matter of fact, I've been able to write this because the two guys went to the store together-- Daddy was finally feeling up to it.
Yet, I'm thinking with the manifestation of this newest symptom-- the inability to do anything solo-- it may be appropriate to go back to therapy. As a mom, I see this as a regression back into toddler-hood, when I couldn't take my eyes of my boy for a second without disaster. We are just a small step away from bringing him into the bathroom with us because he refuses to occupy any room by himself for more than two minutes. We are also a small step away from losing the ability to sleep in his room by himself (or self-soothe at bedtime). As the stress creeps out of his little (okay, bus sized) head, I worry about regression.
We've worked so hard for so long on all these independent and socialization skills. Matt has worked hard, extremely hard on acquiring skills and coping mechanisms, managing his behavior and expressing himself and feelings. I saw today his own frustration seep out. Yet in this, he recognized and expressed that he did not like how he was feeling. My heart breaks for him in these moments.
Facing the mortality of a loved one is hard as hell for a normal adult. For a kid with Asperger's Syndrome... well... is there an expression worse than "hard as hell"? Whatever you can come up with would fit.
So while I didn't get a true day off (which I never really expected anyway), I did get something that is important to moms: I got an understanding, a clearer picture of my son's reaction to his father's Chiari recovery. The only way I can help him get through this is to see the big picture. It's just one piece to the newest puzzle we are putting together.
We'll just keep working on it until he can find that balance between introversion and extroversion, always wanting to be alone or never wanting to be alone. Until we get it right, we'll all be taking a lot of deep breaths and taking things one second at a time. Like boy said just a few minutes ago (they came home a little while ago) "We'll try again tomorrow for a day off".