***This post discusses autism. At ABQ Mom, we seek to use whatever language reflects the inherent value of all people, and we also seek to honor the choices of the people within that community. However, a clear consensus does not always exist on preferred terminology. In this post, the writer (a mother of an autistic child) chose the terminology that she uses and prefers.
You know when your kids scream at the top of their lungs and lie on the floor? Yeah, me too.
I went to the eye doctor with both kiddos recently. It was a last-minute, much-needed check-up for my son. He is five now and on the autism spectrum.
His eyes have been dilated at strange times. His doctor was concerned enough to refer us for an eye exam. They were able to get us an appointment ASAP. This was great, but our routine changed, which was mistake number one.
Autistic people thrive on routine. We went to this appointment early and didn’t go straight to school/daycare. My son was having a hard time listening and paying attention as this was a new place. He wanted to touch everything and was overwhelmed by all of the noises and different lights.
He did okay for some of the evaluation, but then it was time to get his eyes dilated and really look at the back of his eyes. The light was too much for him. He squeezed his eyes shut so fast!
Then, he started touching all of the doctor’s tools. He couldn’t sit still.
My son was done, but the doctor needed to ensure that his eyes were healthy. She could not do this as he was too uncomfortable. I tried intervening by holding his hands and having him look at me. Nothing was working.
He eventually got out of the chair and started slamming the office door. The doctor told him very firmly that that was not okay.
Meanwhile, my two-year-old was on the floor crying this whole time because I thought it would be a good idea to make a quick stop after this appointment for some breakfast–she was hangry!
Having two children meltdown while we are trying to do something serious for my son’s health is no fun. We ended up checking out while I had my screaming daughter in one arm and my son’s hand on the other side.
He tried to run around and grab glasses out of the display cases. I had to practically drag them to the elevator and across the parking lot to the car. Oh yeah, and they were screaming and wiggling the whole time.
I felt defeated as a parent in this moment. I was doing everything in my power for my son’s health, but it didn’t go as I had hoped.
So I sat in the car and took a few deep breaths. Breathe . . . In. Out. In. Out.
I heard somewhere that only one person can have big emotions at a time. So, if my daughter is laying on the floor screaming for food, my son is overstimulated with dilated eyes and slamming doors, I am trying to get out of there and process what my children need, and the doctor is fed up with my children, then there were too many big emotions in one place for anyone to handle.
I’m supposed to be the mom. I’m supposed to be able to handle these situations. And I am supposed to keep my children in line while in public. These are all my responsibilities.
Children need to be quiet. Children don’t need to touch things in the doctor’s office. And children need to stay still in their seats. Children need to know how dangerous situations can be. Children should know better.
This is what the pressure of society tells you, right?
But, children will also be children. They are notorious for living in the moment. Kids take every opportunity to explore their curiosity.
» » » » » » RELATED READ: To the Brave Mom I Encountered in the Grocery Store « « « « « «
But what do you do in these moments? Moments of embarrassment and feeling lost because you aren’t sure what to do and you are worried about your son’s health and feeling like you didn’t feed your children at the right time and feeling hungry myself and trying to regulate everyone’s emotions and trying to ensure that my son understands that he can’t touch everything or slam doors! Or am I just trying not to scream and cry myself . . .
You go with the flow. Let it happen. Feel every moment.
I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I felt that my kids were running around all over. And I felt so overwhelmed. I felt my children’s hands as I tried to usher them out of the medical building and to the car safely. I felt the pressure of trying to budget but also spending money on food for my family and the pressure of needing to be at a certain place for work, family, or myself.
In that moment of reflection and focusing, I realized I hadn’t showered in three days.
Everything felt like a failure at that moment. This overwhelming moment of chaos. This moment when only one person is allowed to have big feelings.
But I am the mother. I am the only person to take care of my children in this moment. We grow and learn from these moments. This is what makes us mothers. This is what makes us stronger. And this is what makes us invincible.
And I took so much from this mom moment.
I learned to schedule things so that I could feed everyone breakfast first. I learned that I might need to have other games or toys to distract my children. And I learned that autism and sensory sensitivity are important to address and work through, not ignore. Every child is different and the same. Let them be children.
Also I learned that I need to take a moment for myself. I need a partner who works with me and takes the other child to school. I need self-love.
Don’t forget to love yourself. You are doing great. You are a mom.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.