One of *those* days

I just lost my very long and very whiny post about today. It's probably good that I didn't impose that upon you.

It has been a hard day. Up til 5:30 with Charlie, woken by Melody just before 7. Dowlan, Charlie and I went mattress shopping and it was one of those days where he didn't look like a slightly immature three-year-old. He looked like a kid with autism. I'm getting used to Charlie being Charlie. What I can't seem to get used to is handling how strangers deal with Charlie.

Instead of repeating my ramblings, I am going to share something I wrote in May, when we were very new to this idea. I didn't share it here then because I wasn't ready yet for this audience to see into that part of my life. Please remember that it was written months ago, so the details of our family life have changed. Don't let it confuse you.

This is one of those things I feel naked after I post. So I'll quit rambling and hit the orange POST button.

Creating an Alter-Ego to See If I Can Handle My Self, My Son

As someone who has never been overly girly or all that well put-together, a manicure seems against my nature. It seems too fluffy and indulgent for someone so focused on practical side of life. I intentionally live a environmentally low-impact lifestyle that includes things like canning my own jams and applesauce, composting, organic gardening, cloth diapering my children and eschewing commercial beauty products. I may not have used shampoo or toothpaste in seven weeks because of the chemicals, but when it comes to a good french manicure, I lose all logic.

Bring on the chemicals, the stinkier the better.

One of my few escapes from my pressure-cooker of a world is going for somewhat-monthly manicures. While I would prefer the luxury of a pedicure, the $12 is a lot easier to come up with than the $35, so I go for the cheaper, if less relaxing option.

In my ordinary life, I find that I am perpetually repeating the same answers: I have three kids, the oldest is adopted. She has some significant special needs. The girls are five months apart. My middle feels squished by them both, is obnoxiously gifted and better than your child in every way. (Just kidding about sharing that last bit.) My youngest has breathing problems and food allergies. My husband has been unemployed for eleven months. Yes, the job market sucks. No, my economy doesn't feel all that stimulated, either. Well, I have two jobs and, yes, I am exhausted. I used to teach, but I've been home with the kids, so now I tutor and score tests. Yes, my hands are full. Yes, it is wonderful that he is a stay-at-home-dad (but only if you don't consider it from the housekeeping angle).

Same questions, same answers. Rinse, repeat.

So I play this little game. Every time I go to get my nails done, I make up a different life for myself. Sometimes I am single, sometimes we have no kids. Sometimes my kids are older, different in number or gender, or maybe I just found out I'm expecting my first. Sometimes I'm an attorney, sometimes a chemist, others a dentist. It isn't that I don't love my family and the life we have--just that it is nice to have a different answer for the same old questions.

Today, I tried out a new one. I tried out my family, exactly as they are, only that my son is on the autism spectrum. Because, well, I think he is. I've talked to my mom and a few good friends about this, but I needed to audition it on strangers. I needed to know just what combination of sympathetic looks and idiotic comments I was in for. I needed to know if I could even bring myself to utter the words, "Charlie's almost three. He has autism."

I am happy to report that it went better than I thought. I think the shield of testing out reality in the confines of my game helped significantly. It also helped that the proper Southern woman at the station next to me had a grandchild also on the spectrum and that the lady doing my nails had no idea what I was talking about because English is not her strong point.

But I said it out loud to a stranger and it didn't hurt as badly as I thought. I've handled a lot in my life. Maybe I can handle this, too.


Rowdy Girls Mama said...

I love this post. I'd like to share it if that's ok? I've had those days, too. And I well know the feeling of best stated by Miss Clavel. 'Something is not right!'

~Gretchen~ said...

go right ahead.

Kristin said...

I used to be able to talk about Autism (in a general sense) and then talk about Lauren but to mix those to worlds together is hard. Now, we are over a year out from the diagnosis and it's easy to say it but that first time the words got stuck in my throat.

To many, she's some autistic kid. I am adamant that she's not. She is not Autistic. I can't describe my two typical kids in one word, why should I begin to describe my oldest in one word