Recently I had the chance to attend my 30th high school reunion (how that is possible when I am still sixteen I’ll never know,) and I have a confession to make.
I liked high school.
I know there are probably many of you rolling your eyes right now at the fact that I both enjoyed those four years and am happy to see my classmates every half decade, and I’m truly sorry if you didn’t have a great experience. I grew up in a small town with a graduation class of just over two hundred, and many of the people I saw that Saturday night I’ve known since I moved to Fair Haven when I was six. These are people who “knew me when,” who remember my parents and my brother. More importantly, they knew me when life was relatively simple, before autism came calling to my household.
They knew me when I was still fun.
I have to admit there were months (hell, years) after each of my kids was diagnosed that that fun girl went into hiding. I pretty much lived in fight or flight mode for a long time after my kids received their autism labels, completely caught up in therapies, dietary supplements, insomnia, and what seemed each time like an inordinate amount of crying (both theirs and mine.) Fun was not even on my radar during those periods. Survival was paramount.
And as I’ve slowly emerged from that dark place (twice!), I’ve found over the past few years I’m remembering who that girl was. Or I should say, who she is.
And I’ve decided she’s going to stick around.
I’ve learned over the last twelve years living with autism that almost everything with the boys is cyclical. I’ve been told this is true with typically developing kids, but I would argue that most of the unpleasant aspects of child rearing most parents experience don’t last until our kids are eighty, so I think I have a different perspective than 98% of the population. In truth, one of the hardest aspects of living with two kids with autism for me has been accepting that some issues will never go away. Even harder than that has been my learning to let in hope even when our situation seemed devoid of it, to entertain the possibility that whatever strife we’re experiencing might eventually dissipate, or disappear. When we’re going through a difficult period I’ve learned to conjure up those triumphs, to cling to them, to remember things usually do improve. More importantly, I’ve learned to take better care of myself.
And as insignificant and silly as that may seem, that includes getting out and having fun.
Whether you’re in that interminable wait period to see a developmental pediatrician, or you’ve just received a diagnosis, or your teenager is now combing puberty with autism (!), make sure you take care of yourself. Whether it’s yoga, a drink (or two) out with the girls, prodigious amounts of chocolate (one of my faves,) or simply staying in bed and doing nothing, carve out time for whatever pampers you and makes you happy. It may seem impossible if you are totally overwhelmed, but do whatever it takes to make that fun happen. Find that girl (or boy,) the one who stayed up past ten and didn’t have a plan B (and C) for every situation with their child. Find that person who embraced life and banished dread. Find that person who envisioned endless opportunities lay ahead of them.
Find your fun.
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