Summer has been good for the boys. In June Anwar and Savion went to summer school while Taj went to Flint Hills Summer Fun Camp. A camp for kids on the spectrum. Anwar and Savion joined Taj at camp in July. I was ecstatic that all three were accepted. It was a huge difference from the summers where I woke up every morning between 3 and 5 am. Knowing I had to be ready with their schedule for the day: breakfast, puzzles, trampoline time, snack, books, etc…All activities entered into Anwar’s AAC device as a checklist that he tapped as we did them. Every day like that. Long, lonely days stretching into the next, with nobody to go and visit and my husband at work have left me in need of mommy dates.
This summer has been different. In June, Monday through Friday, Anwar and Savion took the bus for half day summer school. A caregiver took Taj to camp from 8:00 am to 4 pm. In July they all attended. Their days were full of drama, Lego therapy, swimming, field trips, and academics. We received a camp scholarship and each child had a caregiver at camp. Taj received hours for a provider from the Kansas Autism Waiver, Savion and Anwar through the Intellectuals with Developmental Disabilities Waiver. It was nice having some days to breathe. Usually, during the summers, I felt like a full tea kettle all day, boiling with tension, stress, and fatigue. I could relax for a part of my day.
Yet still. I was lonely. For mommy dates. It would have been great after dropping the boys off to go over to a friend’s house and chat or play tennis at a park, do…something. But I live in a neighborhood where people rarely go outside. My parents are here, but I didn’t grow up in this area. I am friendly, involved in the community, and have many acquaintances, but not friends.
Not that I haven’t tried befriending people. There was a group at the elementary school for parents of autistic kids(babysitting provided), but few people came so it was terminated after a couple of years. I was so disappointed. When the boys were preschoolers, there was a playtime offered by Infants and Toddlers group, for parents of autistic kids, but once again, rarely anyone came. I’d swap cell numbers with other moms, but either they never returned the call or it was, “I haven’t forgotten… I’m just so busy.”
I was eager to talk with parents of kids with special needs. Did their kids smear feces on the walls too? Stand naked in the window? I wanted to hear other parent’s stories about their kids wearing clothes backward or having to stop vacations because of behavior. I craved community. But after hearing one person say, “I have enough problems of my own, why would I want to hear anyone else’s?” I realized many people in my community didn’t want to share. Or maybe they didn’t have time and didn’t see the importance of it.
The people I see the most are paras, caregivers, and teachers. Those conversations tend to center around the boys. But there is no one(outside of family)that I would trust to call and say, “I’m stressed can we talk?”
I don’t feel sad and lonely all the time, it’s just when I’ve had a day where one of my boys has bitten me, or bolted into the street, that it hits me hardest that I have no one around here to talk to about it. Except for my husband and parents. Or in the evenings where the weather is perfect for tennis and I would love to play (depending on our kids need’s of course), it’s an empty feeling.
But maybe things are changing. In early August I asked a mom whose son had known Anwar since preschool( Anwar is now in 6th grade), if she wanted to go bowling or something. I didn’t expect much. I had seen her at the special needs rodeo and she had said she was bored out of her mind with her boys’ being at their dad’s house for the summer. Happy to say we texted back and forth, and we met at a restaurant.
My first official Mommy Date. Hopefully the first of many mommy dates to come.