Susan's Blog

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Through My Glass, Darkly

I am just blown away by the people out there who connect with me. Way back when, W.C., (Without a Clue era), I felt so alone as a new mom. I felt like I was going through the motions, pretending to be a mom, smiling at my tiny boy Natty while inside, just wanting to cry all the time. Why was that? I still don’t know. Was it because he was not responding to me the way I needed him to? Was I post-partum depressed? Or was it because I was simply unhappy living in Yenemsveldt (which for me was Arlington Heights, MA, no offense to you Arlingtonians. It just was no Brookline, forshtays? I needed my ten different bagel bakeries, Kosher butchers, Mel’s Shooz, Linden Park, Cypress Field, Emerson Park, Devotion School Firetruck Playground, Chestnut Hill Mall, and all the other places to take my neurologically-challenged little boy. Instead, I had street after street full of ugly little Cape houses with vinyl sidings of dusty yellow, mint green, and beige. ) I used to sit there in the sandbox with Baby Delight and I would just talk and talk to him, regular voice, telling him how unhappy I was living there, how I had no friends except Merle, but she lived in Boston so I didn’t see her regularly, plus Quinn sometimes depressed me because he actually played with toys and was interested in Nat, who definitely was neither. I used to talk and talk to him about how much I loved him and how he deserved a better mom, one who was happy. I would recite my Pro’s and Con’s list out loud, about why we should move back to Brookline even if it meant taking a loss on our crappy little house and buying a condo. I would weep into the sandbox, hoping a Real Mother would not show up and shame me with her play expertise and her child who used a dumptruck correctly. How I hated “normal” moms who seemed to go around unconscious of anything except their wonderful, responsive child! Then suddenly they would be startled by the odd things Miniman did, like throw wood chips and watch them shimmer down on him, or stuff his mouth with sand or the shovel that I steadfastly brought with me.

If Nat’s toys could talk, what would they say: “Why are we so rejected by this boy? What the heck did we do to deserve such a boring existence? Could you believe it the other day when he put us in his mouth? What, do I look like ice cream to you? I sense a trip to the Salvation Army in my near future…”

Anyway… Where was I? Oh yeah, connecting with other parents. It finally happened, years later. I had to write a $#@ book for it to happen, however. Others find support so much more easily than I do. Sometimes I think I am as prickly as Ben. Maybe I give off a little, “F*** off,” air, when I really don’t mean to. What I really mean is, “F*** off if you’re going to hurt me, you Pr***.” Here is the depth of my pathetic history: I used to even feel alienated in certain autism support groups, for God’s sake, always comparing my kid secretly to the others, thinking thoughts like, “Jeez, so-and-so thinks he’s such a great dad because his kid responds to all that, what’s wrong with me/Nat?” or “Gosh, why doesn’t she get a clue?”

This was way back when. I no longer do that, (well, almost never! πŸ™‚ because I feel so much more of a kinship with the other parents now. I feel like I paid my dues as a young mom. Nat is now 17, and there is very little worry left in my soul about where he is going with his life. I think all of my judgement and lack of connection with others was born out of my own fears and tremendous sense of inadequacy, which by now has shrunken to a bearable size.

For today, anyway.


i also have a hard time connecting to people. i have depression forabsolutelynoreason and i have friends only because of the mercy of the ones who tolerate my friend rules: we don’t talk on the phone, i go to bed early, and rarely spend time with you.

inviting isn’t it? so i think what you said in this post is true for many people. thanks for writing it. πŸ™‚

— added by Amanda on Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 9:10 pm

You’ve eerily described my current mental state. It sucks to be a new mom and feel all alone and it really sucks to be a new mom to a child newly diagnosed with autism. I have a really hard time at our neighborhood play dates (which I’ve begun to avoid) I hate feeling like a failure to my two-year-olds — like, if only I did this mom thing better they’d engage with me (or at least one of them would). Every now and then I try to give myself a break (I mean, there are two of them AND they’re only TWO – how much can one person do?) But still, the guilt nags.

And I had to laugh about you living in Arlington, which happens to be the very ‘burb I lived in so long ago… I know exactly the cape houses of which you speak, but we lived in Arlington Center. How funny. I haven’t been back there since the 80s.

If I haven’t said so before, I very much enjoy your writing, and am so impressed that you’re able to write to it every day. Wish I had similar discipline… keep on!

— added by KAL on Friday, December 1, 2006 at 12:14 am

Amanda Sue – I am certain there are many excellent reasons why your friends are there for you!

Kal – It gets better, trust me. I personally found the young mom thing difficult with each of my boys. I enjoy them far more as I and they get older.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, December 1, 2006 at 6:49 am

KAL, are there other twin moms you can do stuff with? They’ll at least get the “twin” issues. Also, I’ve found my local Mothers of Multiples club to be helpful, not much autism there but all kinds of other problems with kids, and some solutions generalize (e.g., get recommendations on where to take kids for speech therapy from other moms). (I get advice that I can apply with my older son, who is nonverbal, and have been able to help others with younger kids who could use some of the resources I’ve found on my own.)

— added by Julia on Sunday, December 3, 2006 at 4:55 pm

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