Earlier today Ciaran came home from school. My just-turned-six-years-old-on-Tuesday boy came in, demanded my tablet so he could play Angry Birds (I said no), sang a song, then went into the playroom with his brothers where he immediately peed his pants and stripped naked. Welcome home, Ciaran.
He peed his pants twice this evening. In my mind I could see what I'd like to do. Like Mommy Dearest with the wire hangers, I wanted to smack him with his own wet pants. Can't he see how crazy it makes me when he does this? On purpose? When he knows how to use the toilet?
No. Of course he can't. Autism has many things that make kids truly special, but one of the drawbacks is that he has trouble seeing anything from my perspective. I count it a minor miracle that he'll say sorry if he thinks he's stepped on my foot. After all, it didn't hurt him, and he didn't mean to, so why should he be sorry?
So, I can't act like that. Not that I would even if he didn't have Autism. Now, I'd be lying if I said I've always kept my cool. I'm human. But I'm their mom. It's my job to love and protect them even if they're making me want to flee to the nearest girlfriend who has an open bottle of wine. And there is a certain kind of parent that I can never be.
When I was very little, I had a caregiver who obviously didn't like children very much. She had two of her own, and I think she loved them. But us? The kids who spent their days with her? I don't think she liked us at all. And she made us all unhappy because of it. I can still remember how each day I'd leave her house thinking, "I like her. I'll be extra good and maybe she'll be nice to me tomorrow." With a child's innocence I continued to try to love her into loving me back. But I couldn't do it.
I'm lucky. She was just my caregiver. And when I was in Kindergarten, she quit, and I went to daycare instead. I think, even now, that experience colors who I am as a parent. I want my children to respect me. But I don't want them to fear me. I don't want them to feel they have to earn my love. I always want them to feel safe with me.
Tonight, Bridget has the stomach flu. Liam is attached to me as if he were made of velcro, and sleeps only short periods if not in my bed. Okay, he sleeps for short periods even when he's in my bed. Piper is sleeping on the couch since her room smells like a sick Bridget. It's probably going to be a long night. And I'll get through it, while taking care of my kids (with the help of an awesome husband, of course). Because that's what you do as the parent. I know there are women out there who don't do this. Women who abuse and neglect their children. I will never understand them. Ever.