autism

Transitions: April 2021 NaPoWriMo, Day three

I love you, in a sweet, soft, sigh
From the mouth that once
Pierced my heart
With painful words of hate

Embraced in arms
Firm with soothing assurance
Used to pound fists
Of punishment on my back

Eyes warm with love
Their gaze brightly meeting mine
Used to glare in anger
Over nothing I understood

Soft lips kiss my cheek
In tender sentiment
Had cursed me
In angst and turmoil

Intelligence and curiosity
Shine in the beauty of
My neurodivergent
Tweenager


You may have thought this was describing the cycles of an abusive relationship, at first.

You’re not wrong. But, there’s a lot more to it than that.

In this case, the “abuser” was my child. My brilliant, creative, and inquisitive child, who happens to have an autistic brain.

There was a time before the identification of the autism, when I was struggling so hard, as a mom…mostly due to my mental health and relationship problems with her father.

I have attachment disorder due to the emotional neglect I experienced from infancy onward. Nursing her until she weaned herself was one of the most challenging choices I ever made. Especially since her “period of PURPLE crying” lasted the first five months of her life. She was essentially inconsolable. I was the only one who could hold or soothe her, even a little bit…much to her father’s angst and anger.

Then, one day I was no longer the preferred parent.

The first time she called me a bitch she was two.

Fast forward to her fifth birthday when all hell broke loose between her sister and father. That event was this camel’s straw and I left, taking her with me three days later.

For the past seven years we have been in almost constant conflict. Yelling, name calling, hitting, kicking, scratching, and biting. multiple meltdowns a day. There were days I hated being her parent.

Anger, frustration, guilt, and helplessness were my constant states of mind. My spirit felt defeated.

Then pandemic. I got my first real job in nearly 8 years. Then distance learning. I changed my shift to weekend grayards so I could support her school. Going back to middle school was something you couldn’t have paid me to do. Thanks to COVID-19 I did it for free.

Then Winter Break…two weeks of not having to login. I stopped fighting her. It was destroying us.

I decided that waiting for f2f school to start again was the thing to do. We aren’t the only family or special needs family not being able to make it work.

We started having conversations…mostly about her art and online activities with her preferred programs. We also discussed as many aspects of LGBTQ+ gender identities and sexual orientations as I am familiar with and researched others. Overall, things starting getting better with us. She’s much less combative and exponentially more affectionate, both verbally and physically.

“Mommy, I think quarantine has been good for us.”

Writing Prompt: Finish the story

Idyllic Retreat

“She holds his hand and smiles. No words, just a big, happy smile. He smiles back and they walk on, without a word. As the sun is going down…”

They sigh as one, turn around, and take their first steps back toward their mundane lives, their frantically busy realities.

She, back to spinning her wheels in the roller coaster life of parenting, grandparenting, and navigating the twisting paths and pitfalls of accessing services to meet the needs of her youngest child. Mothering a pre-pubescent child who interfaces with the world through the Autism Spectrum and experiences ADHD, is challenging on the best of days. Doing so while battling the intermittent symptoms of chronic physical and mental health disorders of her own requires Herculean strength and effort – strength and effort she feels are sorely lacking. Back to her life of desperate inspiration for thwarted writing of prose and poetry.

He’s heading back to his creativity draining job as a brand copy writer, which is meant to support his ex-wife, their three children, and his aspirations of being a published novelist. A life where he juggles the responsibilities and desires of a part-time father of two teenagers and a younger child who also travels life on the Autism Spectrum. A life where the characters of his unwritten novel scream and cry, rant and rave to be let out.

They stop and stare intently into each other’s eyes…neither one wanting to be the first to say, “goodbye.” Neither one wants their shared, idyllic respite to come to an end, as it must. The retreat hosted by The Autism Society and sponsored by a dozen local charities and businesses has come to its end.

They lean into each other and share a bittersweet, lingering kiss, holding each other tight. Slowly, reluctantly, they step back. His phone rings. Her phone buzzes. Their lives are calling.

They drift apart without exchanging contact information, both knowing there’s no room for the other in either of their lives.

Every once in a while they revisit that time together in their minds’ eyes and reflect on their epic love that never was.