Susan's Blog

Friday, July 17, 2009


I feel sad about Natty today. I had heard from his teacher that he had three outbursts before noon at school. He kept yelling about “going home.” The theory was that he was confused as to whether he was going home or not.

I’m not so sure. I think Nat knows exactly where he’s going to be when. But he knows that he is not coming home next Friday, because we’ll be in France — and he won’t. I don’t think he cares about France; to be honest, I don’t think he knows what France is. But I do know that he loves to travel, and he knows he is not coming with us. We made the decision months ago. I don’t want to go into it.

I cried today, and Ned pulled me onto his lap. I said, “I wish it wasn’t this way.” Ned said, “Oh, Susie.”

I was crying right in front of Max and Ben. Not good. Do they know that I feel like that sometimes? How does that make them feel? Do they wish they could make me happy? Ben springs to help me and make it better whenever he senses my sadness. I didn’t want that for my kids! I didn’t want them to be burdened by my depression.

Nat walks around like a ghost on this visit. No smiles, lots of thumb-sucking. We took a walk to Emack and Bolio’s for some ice cream. He scarfed it, as usual. It was cake batter, one of my favorites. I had chocolate non-fat frozen yogurt. Everytime I asked him if he wanted to do something, he’d say, “No do ___!” Not even with an exclamation point. Total indifference. I felt like a nagging mother. I suppose that should make me happy, because that is “age appropriate.” Yay.

He didn’t want to hang out with us, but that’s normal. He walked around, room to room, until I said, “Do you want to go to bed?” He said, “Yes” right away. Okay, maybe he’s tired.

Why is coming home such a huge deal to him that he has outbursts, and then when he is here, he doesn’t know what to do with himself? Does home not feel quite like home anymore? Or was he always like this?

Sometimes I feel like I don’t make a difference to him. I want to make a difference. I want to know. I just want to know.


Yes, I know. It is not fair to them or us and there is nothing to be done about it. It just is. I feel this way often, Susan. I too want to know.


— added by Anonymous on Friday, July 17, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Hi Susan,

There is lots of love and trust in your family and your son knows where home is, who loves him and that when you go away you always come back.

The tragedy of this whole situation, is that you missed out on indulging in a perfectly good full fat ice-cream comfort food binge!

It will all work out okay.
Enjoy France

— added by Sue on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 4:38 am

Hi Susan,
Maybe it's ok, right now, not to know. Maybe there will be a day when you will know. Maybe you can have faith in that. Hopefully it will be enough.

You are a wonderful mother to all of your boys.
Enjoy your trip to France,

— added by Penny on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 7:47 am

Susan, I think it's ok for your boys to see you sad sometimes. Life isn't always easy. Surely Max and Ben have occasionally had negative feelings about Nat? I'm sure they understand.

You do make a difference…you do! I'm sorry you're having a tough time with this right now. I hope you're able to enjoy your holiday. It's so hard sometimes to do something for yourself.

I've had to convince myself of this. Sometimes I do things alone with Patrick. Often, actually. When I think of all the therapy, etc. So, when he gets "left out" I try to think of it more as doing something with the other people in my life, for their benefit (and mine).

I'm not a big hugger online, but I'm sending hugs to you today.

— added by mumkeepingsane on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 10:42 am

Nice. A week on Cape Cod and now Paris. Wow-where do you find that kind of time? I know I could never leave my child behind (and would never want to) and enjoy myself. I much happier when I am focusing on her and with her.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

I agree with every single one of the above comments. It's okay to cry. It's okay for your kids to see you cry. They're old enough, and you're human.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there is NOTHING wrong with this trip to France without Nat. He will have a blast at camp. We are sending my autie to camp for the very first time in 2 weeks. The FIRST question his therapists asked when we told them we'd taken their advice and enrolled him in camp was, "Are you going to go on vacation that week? Lots of families do that, they use this week as respite."

It's okay. Nat surely senses your unease about all of this, and probably has some of his own, and that's what's led to his behavior. But you are NOT a bad mother, and you and your family NEED this trip just as much as he NEEDS to go to that camp while you are away.

Deep breaths, in and out. Let go of the guilt. ((hug))

— added by ASDmomNC on Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Thanks, all! I am so far having a great time, and will try to talk to Natty soon!

— added by Susan on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Um, okay, I agreed with the comments BEFORE that last one. Wow. Judge much? Susan, ignore that. There's nothing wrong with taking a WELL EARNED (yes, she EARNED it…ever second, every penny) vacation.

— added by ASDmomNC on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Of course you make a difference to him, all loving parents do… it's that our kids don't always show it, that's all!!

Since Meghan has been away at school this year, we've gone on a few vacations with our other child, without Meghan. I felt guilty for it, but also knew that she was where she preferred to be; vacations away don't seem to make a difference, but family time does especially in the comforts of their own home.

Have a good time, Paris is wonderful!!

— added by Holly on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Hi Susan, Don't beat yourself up. You are a great mom. Nat knows you love him, of course he does. You know this. You described how his face lights up when he sees you in a prior post. He tells you. Now tell yourself. It's okay to do things separately. Especially things that would be overwhelming for Nat – like international travel. My youngest son and I are going away – just the two of us – I'm a single mom with one autistic child and 2 NT boys 12 & 19. My 19 year old has commitments and cannot come, my daughter cannot do extended leaves from school, away from home – it puts her in a tail spin. She will be in my heart each trail I hike, down the whitewater in a raft and when I return in two weeks, she has a happy refreshed mom – which is good for EVERYBODY!

Be gentle with yourself and have a great trip!

Mary Ellen

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I agree with ASDmom. Wow, what a judgemental thing to say. Susan is not abandoning her child. Obviously, this was a hard decision for Nat to go to camp instead of France and one that she is still having a tough time with. It's so hard to know how our kids will react and what will be best in the long run without acting like it's so terrible for Nat to go to camp. Jarrett does camp for a week every summer and goes to the beach with his dad for a week . Sometimes major things are more easily handled when Jarrett is not home. Cleaning out his toys, painting his room etc.. are all things that are easier when he's not home. Things have a way of working out for the best (usually!).

— added by cameramom on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I just heard that Nat went to see a sandcastle contest at a nearby beach! I just love the way his House treats him.

He would have enjoyed climbing all the way up Notre Dame today, but I can't imagine how he would have felt about being on that hour-long line to get in! I do not feel guilty; I just really miss him and I wish so much he could simply go with us to all these things.

— added by Ned Batchelder on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I bet that Nat will have a better time doing activities suited to him, that Paris probably wouldn't be his thing at all….imagine the flights?! And you all need a break. Can't pour from an empty pitcher, put the mask on yourself before you aid the person next to you, etc.

Have a great time and have faith that Nat is surrounded by good people and he will be fine. And ignore that nasty comment….I hope I get to Paris or similar for my twenty fifth!!! Just twenty years to go…….:)

Em's Mom

— added by Anonymous on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Hooray for the Batchelder-Senators, recharging their batteries, and enjoying. Period.

Anonymous bomb-throwers are lame. Period.


— added by Anonymous on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm

I feel like such a better autism mom after taking a whole indulgent week with my husband for the first time in many years — at least it's still working for me a month later now! We're already plotting for next year and France is on our list! Our daughter did fine without us, and we feel so re-energized. It's good for everyone. Also, I know your boys are all the richer seeing the full range of your emotions. Enjoy your time in Paris.

— added by toadysmom on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

Susan; you are a wonderful mother! I agree with all of the above comments (except for the negative one by the Anonymous poster). Nat is in a good place and sounds like he is having a good time. It can be very stressful traveling with Nick (loud, screaming meltdown at Safeway this week comes to mind), and yes, sometimes it is easier for everyone to go without him. I think more than guilt, I just feel sadness that he cannot enjoy some simple things like we do. I want so bad to be able to share things with BOTH of my boys-but sometimes it is just not feasable, and I don't feel like dealing with the tantrums. You are not a bad mother and you are doing right by Nat,Max, and Ben. Right now, I cannot even fathom taking Nick on a long plane ride like that-I would need a week just to recover from that alone!

— added by Amy on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm

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