I freaking hate you.
I hate last night. I hate the blindsiding meltdowns. I hate lifting him from off the floor where he fell asleep, tears stained on his cheeks. I hate punishing him for something wrong he has done, because I can’t tell if it’s his Autism or blatant disobedience.
I hate that everyone knows me, not for Becky, but for “the mom with the Autistic kid”. And that isn't his fault. I hate that Rowen is known for having Autism, and not for his amazing forgiveness. Or for his kind words and giant hugs when he sees his mother crying. I hate that no one sees his huge heart- instead they see a clumsy, unfiltered five year old boy.
I hate the fact that you are his constant companion. He doesn’t get a break from you. The good thing is there are times he forgets you are there, when he is extra happy or concentrating on a task. But those are rare moments. Sometimes I forget about you, too, but it doesn’t last long. You never take vacations, do you?
Autism, you make waking up in the morning really, really hard sometimes. You make falling asleep at night really, really hard. Even when I close my eyes to rest, you are there in my dreams. You never go away; not completely anyway. And I am tasked with the job to make sure my son succeeds with you. Do you want him to succeed? Are you here to make sure he doesn’t? Who and what are you really? Sometimes I think if I knew you better, then I’d know my son better. But you are two different entities, and I feel like I am constantly in a battle to keep you off his back.
I don’t appreciate you. I don’t enjoy you. It is days like this I wish you did not exist. My eyes are swollen and I’m tired, and Rowen is barely making it through the day because of yesterday. Yesterday we had “a bad day”. That is what we call it. A day when everything seems to go wrong and his little emotions get the best of him. And the next morning we are left tired and sad and edgy.
I hate bad days. He hates them, too. He understands. He knows. He asks me how many meltdowns he had that day and I’ll be honest with him. Then, at the end of the night he asks me if we are going to have a better day tomorrow. I encourage him and excitedly tell him we are. I can feel the determination in me when I say it out loud, and I see the hope in his eyes as he smiles and pulls me in for a tight hug.
And in that moment I’m not thinking of all the things he did wrong that day that drove us to having a bad day. I’m thinking of all the things I did wrong. And the things I didn’t do. I go over in my mind all the mistakes I made and how I should have been easier on him. Because he is not like other kids. He has a special companion with him who doesn’t give him a break. A companion who will forever be the thorn in his side. And even I, the wonder woman he truly thinks I am, cannot get rid of you. And I hate you for it, Autism.
So I tuck him in, tell him goodnight, and remind him to stay in bed. As I descend downstairs for some quiet time I know it is just a matter of minutes before I hear his little feet tiptoeing down the stairs, coming to find me for one last hug. I tell myself not to be mad and usher him back to his room.
Then I say a prayer that tomorrow won’t be “a bad day”.