Monday night was not a good night. The worst I have had in a while, actually.
But I learned something about myself, I was painfully reminded of something about Easton, and, most of all, I was incredibly proud of Keegan.
Our routine has been slightly (read: so-much-more-than-slightly) “off” these last several days. We have had a little bit (read: a hell of a lot) going on at our house. Not going into detail on that. The point is: holy crap, we are a little stressed.
I believe all of this culminated into what I’m referring to as the “Epic Meltdown of ’13.”
The boys and I were happily playing outside. Easton would literally stay outside aaaaaall the live-long day if we let him. But, alas, it was time to go inside for bath and bed.
And the Epic Meltdown began. It was more than just crying. It was more than a temper tantrum. It was screaming to a level that actually made me cringe and want to cover my ears. He was definitely mad about coming inside, but there was something else. Something. I don’t know what. All I know is, he was rubbing the top of his head obsessively and screaming. He was grabbing tissues and rubbing his head. He was scratching at it. He was grabbing my hand to apply pressure to it (the only thing that made him stop screaming). If I ever-so-much as moved my hand, he would grab it and pull it toward his head.
But he could not tell me why.
I searched his hair for a bug, a blade of grass, a speck of dirt (yes, those are the types of things that would make him freak out). I saw nothing.
He screamed like this for a little over an hour. The only moment of silence in that hour was when I sat next to the bath tub and put my hand on his head. But I eventually had to get him out of the bath, and the non-stop screaming continued.
About 45 minutes in, I lost it. I started crying.
I looked over and Keegan was watching me. I don’t like him to see me crying, so I tried to calm myself down. I felt very weak.
“Mom, are you sad?”
“No, I’m not sad, Keegan. I’m just really frustrated. I want to help your brother, but I don’t know how. He can’t tell me what’s wrong and I just wish he could.” In hindsight, a more accurate answer would have been, “Yes, I am a little sad.”
“Do you think the neighbors can hear him?”
“Yes. I know they can. What do you think they’re thinking right now?”
(shrugs) “I don’t know. Probably wondering what’s going on.”
“Yes. I’m sure they are. Does your brother frustrate you sometimes, too?”
(shrugs again) “I guess. Sometimes.”
“Yeah. I know.”
At this point, it was time for bed. And at this point, the melting down (although I didn’t know this was possible) was getting worse.
The boys share a room. Keegan got in bed and was trying to talk to Easton about getting in bed. Easton hit him. I took Easton’s hand, told him “no” and said to Keegan, “I’m really sorry he hit you. He doesn’t mean to hurt you. He’s just really frustrated and over-tired”
“It didn’t hurt, Mom. Easton, we know you’re tired. You just need to go to bed and then you’ll feel better.”
I had to lay in bed, with Easton on top of me, and my hands pressing on his head, for him to finally stop screaming.
And then I completely and totally broke down crying. The quiet cry. You know, the kind where you’re trying to stifle it so no one hears you. That kind.
“Are you okay?”
Keegan whispered this from his bed across the room.
It totally caught me off guard. My oldest child, the one I always say is oblivious to everything, noticed my quiet crying from across the room and quietly asked me if I was okay.
I said “Yes, Keegan. I’m okay.”
And here’s the shameful part of this whole thing. Do you want to know what I was thinking while I was quietly crying in Easton’s bed, with him on top of me, finally catching his breath in little sobs from screaming for over an hour?
I was thinking, “Dammit. Sometimes, I HATE AUTISM.”
This is where I’m worried about what people will think. Because if you look back at my previous posts, I am pretty adamant about saying “Autism is a part of my son. I wouldn’t change him for anything. He is who he’s supposed to be.”
And yet, Monday night, in one of my weakest moments, I hated autism.
It is part of him. It doesn’t define him, but to know him, you must know autism. Autism is intriguing, fascinating, and amazing.
And autism is heartbreaking, complicated, and all-consuming.
I love Easton. But do I always love autism? Absolutely not.
And that, my friends, is my “April is Autism Awareness Month!” post. Not what I originally had in mind. (I wanted to write something uplifting, something about my perfectly abnormal kid.)
But it’s honest. And honestly, I am very, very aware of autism these days.