Those words are the ones I hear the most often once people know that I have a child with Autism, a 2.5 year old, that I’m a special education teacher, and that I’m a wife.
“I don’t know how you do it.”
The argument for my supermomness is that I’m a wife, a mom, I work with special needs children all day long. After work, I come home to clean, cook, and then exercise all of my skills as a mother and even as a special educator with my children and that I never stop. Maybe some of that is true. Maybe 85% of that is true. Or 90. Something like that. I mean, Super Dad does quite a bit of cooking and cleaning, honestly, while I continue to work at home on what I don’t get done at school. I suppose it doesn’t matter. Either way, I guess I’m not stopping the break-neck speed at which I’m working.
The school counselor and I talked the other day. I didn’t even mean to get into this conversation with her. I’d made this contract with myself that personal business would remain personal. I guess counselors are skilled at digging. I only went to borrow a sheet of paper to quickly draw out the layout of the classroom I use 2nd period. Her office was right next door to the classroom. Anyway, she asked me about my children–about Squeaker. Eventually she started asking about whether I had support in the area.
I tell people that, honestly, things really aren’t that bad. We have good and bad days. Our bad days get pretty darn bad. So maybe I expect my morning to start out with him hitting or biting me a few times. Maybe I expect that he’ll greet me that way every afternoon. It’s not so bad, honestly. Right now, he’s sitting peacefully beside me with his headphones on and he’s picking glue off of his hands. It keeps him from picking his skin and he’s calm. During this time of day, he’s subdued, usually. I’m not really allowed to touch him for more than 5 seconds right now, but he’s not hurting anyone. If I give him more glue to pick off, he’ll reward me with a kiss on the cheek, which is kind of sweet.
I told her that we do have friends that help out every once in a while. Of course, friends come and go, so you never know whether to rely on that. Sometimes, if we drive 2-3 hours, family can take the kids so The Manager and I can have some time alone. And, yes, we have access to Respite services. However, that takes advanced planning and if we’re to go out by ourselves, we have to pay for a babysitter for Big Guy, and availability is limited since we live so far out. As a result, we pretty much never use that. That’s 20 hours a month of never-used services.
She told me that we should go out and take Big Guy with us. He could probably use the time with us. And we’ve done that before. It was actually really nice. The poor kid hardly ever gets any one-on-one time. We fight to keep their bedtime routines separate so he can at least have that. Mom-guilt took over when she brought that up and I turned away a little while I fought back tears. His development has been a little delayed. Is it because of lack of attention? We’ll never know because we can’t isolate the variables. We’ve always read to the kids and I do my best, but the truth is that one will always demand more attention than the other.
I’m not great at asking for help. So, how do I do it? I just do. We do. My husband and I. Together.
We do what parents do. We take care of our children, we provide for them, we pick them up when they fall down, we teach them right from wrong, we nourish them, we support them, we protect them, and, most of all, we love them.
And, really, I think that’s the most important thing. Maybe that’s the how–the driving force. Love.
No other force is greater.