Susan's Blog

Monday, February 22, 2010

That’s What It’s All About

I believe I enjoy my boys much more now that they’re becoming independent people in their own right, than when they were roly-poly toddlers. While the baby phase is just cuteness galore, and kind of a delicious bath for the senses, there is not as much room or material for actual relationships. But now, my sons as young people are fascinating to watch and get to know.

I remember, in my early 40’s, discovering that I found people more attractive in middle age than when they’re young and ripe. As much as we like to diss Facebook, I am having a great time reconnecting to high school and college friends — and even enemies! There is something delightful about getting closure now that we’ve all been softened by life a bit. Being enemies — I have discovered that I don’t even know why I disliked one person or another in high school. So easy to dismiss, to move on. In one way or another, I think that the overweening, largely undeserved egoism of the teens and twenties becomes seasoned and more humble. I think this has to do with encountering disappointment and even tragedy. This is the other side of my hardship: I get to value what’s good in life when the hardship is absent. I don’t take things or people as much for granted. As I get older, I understand that the charmed life does not really exist.

There is no way you can teach this to younger people. No one could have told me what motherhood — or adulthood — would really be like. The beauty of youth is that you don’t believe bad stuff is going to happen to you and your bearing and body reflect that. When I was a young adult I could simply look the other way when something ugly or not fun came along. I think that’s important to go through because you learn the depths of pleasure and get strong for when stuff starts to go wrong.

On my good days, like today, I have this kind of clarity. At times like this I see autism as one of those kinds of things that brought me down from that rosy era. I was wrecked. I broke. I thought I was dying, actually. I had OCD for a while about germs, aches, pains. Washing, checking, worrying. When really what was going on was sad feelings, my innocence ending, my son revealing himself to be human, not perfect. Those realizations were so hard to bear that I fought them and ran away from them. Sometimes I think the race, the pressure to cure is about not being able to stand what is happening. And I don’t mean parents should give up! Cure is another word for help, for heal. But my life could not be about that forever, because it always gave me a second consciousness when I was with Nat. I’d be with him, trying to enjoy him, but there was also me standing apart and worrying, wishing, wondering what to do next. Separate, cold, and missing him.

I am not telling anyone else how they should perceive their situation because they will feel what they feel. All I know is that eventually this tide of pain and disappointment receded and I could be warm again, just being with Nat. In his own very atypical way, he is becoming an adult in the world, making his own sense of it, doing what he can, growing out of old destructive ways, trying to find his joy. And that, I believe, is what it is all about. At least today.


that very poignant. and wise.

— added by kyra on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I just finished filling in some "functioning" forms for the little one… To write/circle "can do"… is an amazing thing.

I too find the older they get… the easier it gets. It's not perfect, currently in the middle of a school/classroom change for the little one… But, it doesn't have that overwhelming feel anymore.

— added by farmwifetwo on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

My only regret about middle age, is its dirty little secret: through its course, time *accelerates*…

— added by Phil Schwarz on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

For me, you hit it just right in saying that autism was one of the things that brought you down from the rosy era. I was telling my, oh-so-much-more-attractive-now-that-he-is-well-into-middle-age friend that my kids forced me to give up the notion of being a perfect SAHM with a beautiful, perfect looking home and perfect children. And I am grateful that I have something that matters more than that.

Thanks–Cathy A.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 2:51 am

We had Jared's IEP meeting yesterday. The early IEP's were brutal, Jared was kicking teachers and his outbursts were loud and frequent. Yesterdays meeting was the other side of the coin. Jared is doing his work, helping in class, and exceeding expectations on the LA standardized tests. Huh? We are working on counting change right now, and that boy is motivated!! His father and I floated out on a cloud, bursting with pride. When he was younger, I honestly didn't think that we'd ever get these kinds of reports.

Keep your chins up, as hard as it gets, remember to cherish and celebrate the good things, it bolsters you in tough times.

Yea Jared!! Hooty Hoo!!! Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 9:43 am

you are hitting the nail on the head on so many points…I read an interview with Pat Benatar, who was brought up in my hometown…describing her upbringing in our town as Norman Rockwell or it was, for many years and into my adulthood I expected things to be perfect…and for the most part, the seemed to be. I think I am a much better person now that I have had to view the world thru a different set of glasses! I definitely look at things completely differently, for the most part. And yes facebook!!!! I am having such a ball reconnecting with my HS friends….it is just too good to be true, love it!!!!!!!!!!!

— added by eileen on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

Ah, you always post such good blog posts just when I need it the most. Today sucked in autismland, and I so needed to read something positive.

— added by ASDmomNC on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Love (and totally relate to) the phrase "softened by life a bit" and have also enjoyed the equanimity towards all I feel nowadays as opposed to the intenseness of my early years. Facebook reaquainting with folks has been an unexpected pleasure here as well. Another great post. Thanks.

— added by toadysmom on Monday, March 1, 2010 at 5:08 pm

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