Susan's Blog

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ain’t Wasting Time No More

We’ll raise our children in the peaceful way we can,
Its up to you and me brother
To try and try again.
–Allman Joy

It’s not that Nat isn’t ready to go. It’s that I am not ready for him to go. We went from zero to 60, just like that. Yes, last summer was hard, so hard, with all of his outbursts, so inexplicable to us. So much would bother him. Ben was so afraid of him, no matter what I did. If I said too much to explain things to him, it would only serve to invalidate his feelings. I don’t know how much fact sunk in. All I know is how he grew to hate Nat, to hate just about everything in his life, to mistrust us, to withdraw into sarcasm, goth clothing, gaming, cynicism, tears.

I am not blaming Nat. I would never see it that way. I don’t blame autism. That is a condition of nerve cells, like a part of his body; it would be like blaming my own belly for having cellulite, or blaming humidity for causing rain. You can see connections and causes, but you can’t blame. It is apart from him, and yet, deeply connected to him, so how could I blame autism? Autism, to me, is not a capitalized word, like some Being. I blame myself, more than anything, because I do not know what to do to provide balance and safety for all of my children, and that is my primary job as their mother.

Why are we created to fail our kids? Why can’t we figure them out? Why can’t love overpower all the mistakes, all the hurts? We are too complex for our own good. And so it twists and cuts so much to watch the repercussions of our inadequacy.

I realized at some point, in my mind, that Nat had to go. He was old enough and could learn more about how to be with others, from others. I had to focus on Ben — and Max. Ben was crying for help. Max, well, no crying, but — I always worry. Is he quiet and accommodating, like Ned, or is he this way because he had to become this way? He was always this way. But is it okay? Like Ned, he seems happy, but like Ned, I always wonder about someone who handles things so internally, so unlike the way I do.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it is much, much more. Still waters, and all that.

With Nat’s school, we now had a place that I could trust, which is saying a lot. I don’t trust easily. It has taken me years to get to know his school and how they do things. I know their flaws and I know their postive attributes. Teacher after teacher seems to fall in love with him, and why wouldn’t they? He’s bright and beautiful, laughs easily, and he’s so funny.

Oh, God, I am going to start crying again! I was just in his room, straightening for the cleaning women (such a strange thing we do, clean so that they can clean). Looking around at the toys, from 18 years of life, the class photos, the art, just sucked my heart downward. The abortive attempts to teach him this and that: sentence-generation puzzles; construction toys; piggy bank; baby doll; math fact flash cards. The toys he used to like, but that now are dust magnets: Funny Bunny (tattered gray rags shaped vaguely like a rabbit); books on tape; Disney CDs.

Nat, Nat, Nat. Baby pictures of you, preteen, chubby 9 year-old. I know, I know, here come the strains of Sunrise, Sunset. Ned says I am just a big pile of sugar. But I’m just saying: it all happened way too fast.


All children should be so fortunate to have a parent who is so concerned about their children’s welfare. Nat, Max and Ben are blessed. It will work out and bring new challenges and opportunity for victories.

— added by diana on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 10:30 am

Keep your chin up, Susan, this is just a new chapter, and a new adventure for all the players. I bet you a large coffee beverage that in the coming months that Ben will let you know that he misses his brother. You and Ned have raised a good bunch. Put Funny Bunny in a safe place, just in case you or Nat need him for a cuddle, and keep smiling at your boys. They are all up to these challenges, as are you. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 11:22 am

I wrote something for you. Give me a few more days to polish it.

— added by Someone Said on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 11:27 am

Such a beautiful, honest post — so full of love. Made me cry.

— added by KAL on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Yeah, being imperfect sucks, but it’s also what makes our successes actual successes, and you’ve got tons of them with your kids.

As for the internal/external stuff. I still go through this with my mother, who is an external person. It’s hard for her to understand that, for me, doing emotions, and particularly negative emotions, externally, takes a perfectly manageable thing and makes it more complicated. Like people who like to keep their desks messy, we internal folks have a perfectly good system, even if other people can’t see it.

— added by VAB on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 1:29 pm

My mama heart is just breaking in two reading that. Hugs to you in this time of transition.

— added by ASDmomNC on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm

I love this post. It is so hard sometimes to parent and let go. I can totally relate.

— added by Marla on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 3:38 pm

In my experience you are now at the worst stage.

This part is akin to pulling the bandage off…really slowly…feeling every hair pull as it lets loose.

This is a really tough part but the good new is it will NOT get harder. Mother Nature will kick in and she is very kind.

Anonymously a fan and long time reader of your blog.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Thank you, everyone.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 6:25 am

I may still be in little boy stage but I remember the first day of daycare, the first day of school, the first day of…. and you know.. those little boys settled in a lot quicker than their Mom did and I wondered “why did I lose so much sleep worrying about it??” B/c we do, it’s our job to make certain everything is a good fit, and their lives run smoothly.

You’ve done your best, now it’s time to let him go and show you what he’s learned. And yes, for a little while, you’ll lose some sleep b/c you care.


— added by farmwifetwo on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 8:39 am

I actually wish there WERE some place for my 11 year old autistic son to live safely and independently away from me when he turns 18. No such place exists here and I doubt there ever will be. I am sure he will always be living with me when he is an adult and when we pass away living with his twin sister. I also would grieve at his moving out, but also feel so much pride that he is moving on to another stage of his life, as it would be if he were going off to college.

— added by Sharon L. on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 10:16 am

Autism or not, it is the hardest thing to let your child REALLY grow up and move on. Imagine how our parents felt-and now we have to do the same. You are doing what is best for the NEXT phase in Nat’s and all of your lives.
You did good mamma.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm

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