Susan's Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Staying Here

I was crying a lot this past week, but it ended well. Does that make it okay? At some point, do we run out of I did this, but at least it ended like that. Is there a limit on how many bad days one member of a family can have?

Writing this now I can scarcely remember why I was so weepy. But I do know that it had a lot to do with feeling disconnected from my family. I felt so irreconcilably different from the four of them. They — we — are all such islands. But I’m an island that wants at least to be a peninsula, attached somehow. (What an ugly, stupid metaphor.) Ben is enjoying his winter vacation from inside the depths of Hyrule. He surfaces occasionally for  12 o’clock breakfast or a 3pm lunch. He has too many oreos, not enough exercise. Yet he is increasingly muscular, taller than me, lanky, gorgeous acne’ed teenager. He still lets me in a little, showing me cute or freaky stuff on the Internet.  He is deeply attached to me, somehow; I feel it.

Max is home from college for the month, out every night, up late, sleeping late, when he’s here he’s with his girlfriend. We did have him to ourselves on Thursday, and on that day Ned and I got him to take a walk with us. We went, of course, to Starbucks. Even without Nat that is a perfect short walk, up our street, down the hill, across Route 9, and into The Village. I get a skinny vanilla latte, Max gets a hot choc, and Ned gets decaf and a slice of the cake-like bread. We share it, cramped around a small table. I love this.

I don’t know what we talked about; maybe the different genres of computer games. Some about Max’s classes and floormates. I just drank in the beauty of him and his life, along with my toasted-marshmallow-flavored drink. We walked home and got there just in time for Nat’s van.

That night Ned made dinner, not me. One of the things we realized, he and I, was how much I’ve been hating dinner. Really hating it, not like funny-hating it. It’s been almost painful for me, from 3pm on, to come up with an idea of what each person will actually like, something not too fattening for me. To then wait until around 6:30 to start it, because Ned has to finish work. Not to snack until then.

And then, the dinner itself. If all the boys are there, it can be just as bad as if none are there, because they all have their own things going on, and they are not sharing nothin’. I sit there, with my spare plate and look at their full plates and their full lives — even Nat’s is full and ahead of him, but is it the life he wants? — and not knowing that, and yet seeing them in their fullness and potential, I want to leave.

The geography cure, a long-ago therapist once called it.  How can I be this ungrateful for everything I have? But there it is, I’d been getting in my car all last week and fantasizing about driving and driving, away.  I finally told Ned; “told,” ha, that’s a good one. We had a huge nasty fight. They all heard it, Goddammit.

How much more can I say I’m sorry?  All I can do is keep trying harder. But then my life feels like one big TRY.  All that helps is for some time to pass, for them to see that I’m okay, it was just a bad day.

Usually I clear my plate before everyone else and clean, clean, clean while they eat. My mind is on being in a different room, away from them. That makes me sad, and I don’t know why I feel that way. What I know is it is so different from when I’m in Starbux with them. Our  Starbux date is a moment in time, aware and crystalline, surrounded by earthy chocolatey smells and people on break, just wanting to be there for that brief time. Creature comforts of heat, of sweet aroma, and of satisfying our hunger and thirst. Starbux is the new communal cave, where the hot drinks bond us like fire.

When Ned made dinner Thursday — and it was a dinner that Max came up with and helped with — I felt so privileged. I felt royal. I was the Princess, the one female in the house, and it was special that night. I found I could sit, and stay, linger and listen. I could live there, after all.


I love you for sharing it all with us Susan. Thank you .

— added by Jody on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 9:02 am

Sue–Beautiful, beautiful. The geography cure. Love it.

— added by Judy BF on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 10:12 am

Susan… the more I read these, the more I worry. Extreme mood swing are not healthy and can be caused by a million reasons that have little to do with stress/depression and everything to do with general illness (thyroid, blood pressure etc).

Children grow. Teens and young adults don’t talk to their parents… and in some ways I truly hope that’s true of my eldest (12) who NEVER shuts up and just rambles…. 🙂 Mine like to do their own thing a lot of the time, I just go and stick my nose in. Usually just sit and watch.

As for meals, I simply make and serve. I try to have something I know everyone will eat and beyond that they can find the bread and butter or whatever else all on their own.

I use to worry a lot more when everyone was small and Dh was gone a lot. Dh is gone even more now and the kids are grown. I’m due for another weeks holiday – without them, Mom comes to help at home – and I’m learning to do for myself. Still haven’t found my “thing” (like I have time to fit me into it) but I like to read and play on goodreads so for now that works.

I’m actually looking forward to them growing up and becoming more independant. There is still a long ways to go. Lots to worry about. But I find things a lot less stressful now than I did then.

— added by farmwifetwo on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 10:12 am

I SO appreciate everything you write—I have been feeling weepy recently–I very often feel as if I am the only neuro-typ in my home….it gets so frustrating but your post helps me realize that I need to focus more on the positives—and cherish what I have!! Happy New Year!

— added by SarahC on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 10:18 am

I once wrote about “taking my tired minivan for a continental ride.” It says we have the need for a break. I don’t often recognize that need in myself till I am past the point.

You’re in a time of transition on many levels. You will figure it out. But give yourself the gift of a break in some way. Sometimes the need for a continental ride is really just the need for a weekend away.

— added by Dixie on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 10:55 am

FW2: I understand where all this is coming from. I won’t say “don’t worry.” But I will say that I understand myself very very well and that I need to write it out to keep understanding. I am healthy. I know what I’m about. I know what is natural for children and teens to do. Knowing might be enough for you but it is not always enough for me. There is still wanting and feeling, which you can’t control, or push away with pure reasoning.

We all have to be careful not to think we know just what each person should do to improve their lives. We cannot know. What works for you may not work for me.

But, all that being said, I do thank you for caring about me!

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 11:21 am

Glad you are feeling better. Domestic drudgery can really be a drain. Maybe there is a way to simplify the dinner thing. My guilty secret is I often use paper plates… bad for my carbon footprint but good for my “sanity footprint” as I think of it. My twins have a lot of sensory/eating issues and I have to streamline things as much as I can.

The trip to Starbucks sounds wonderful! Sons can be so mystifying, and whenever you can really connect it’s a gift.

— added by Alice on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm

This may be a little too new age-y for you, but I think there is something ‘in the field’, this last week of 2011. I have seen it in my own life and those of my friends, some living with autism and some not – each having a day or a night of coming undone. 2011 has been a unique year…

With respect for your bravery in sharing your direct experience.
With support and not needing to change or fix it for you.

Thank you for all that you share in your writing – it is a window into many places for me. My son is 4 and has ASD. My mother has grown children and I sensed similar islands at times during our holiday time. I cherish those moments we shared like your Starbucks moment. I honor the rest in their mystery and complexity.

— added by Laura on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

As always, what you write is so important for me to read. Thank you for sharing this.

— added by Susan on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Susan, thank you for your honesty. I’ve never heard it called the geography cure before, but boy do I know it. I suspect most mothers do.

“Knowing might be enough for you but it is not always enough for me. There is still wanting and feeling.” YES.

— added by Liane on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I lost my dear aunt on December 17th so this has been a weepy holiday season for me as well. She was so special to me and has always made me feel incredibly special, ever since I was a kid, even though she has six kids of her own. The world feels dramatically different now without this seemingly invincible person as part of it and I have to somehow accept that. Made no sense to think that she would always be there, but somehow I did.
Susan, do you use your crock pot often? Throw some stuff in it in the morning and forget about it? I do the majority of my cooking this way. There’s nothing better than coming home to an awesome smell and dinner just waiting on you:) Happy New Year my friend, hope it’s a good one for all of us.

— added by Eileen from Florida on Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 7:39 am

I’m sorry about your aunt. Hope you’re okay.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 7:44 am

I think what you are lamenting here is just the passage of time, and it gets to me, too. Whenever I see a pack of preschoolers walking together, I think “were my children ever really that little?” I know when my daughter goes off to college in the next few years, it’s just going to seem . . . weird. (She is taking the test to get her learner’s permit today). I was so busy during those preschool days, working full time, trying to get Matthew the services and into the schools he needed, always on the phone or writing letters or emails I didn’t have many stop and smell the roses moments. But, maybe every mother feels that way, I don’t know.

— added by sharonjones on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

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