Friday, October 29, 2010

How Do I Deal With Stress?

This is part of a blog hop about what I do, as a parent of a child with autism, about stress

I guess there is a lot of stress involved with raising a child with autism, but I tend to focus on the stress that occurs when one's two and one year old daughter crawl up one's butt every damned day of her damned life, so I can't even think of what stress Anthony causes me.  

I know that it is a near constant worry, that we have about Anthony.  I think about him all day while he is at school.  I worry more now than I used to, because of the tantrums that he has now.  Sometimes I go get him at school and his eyes are so red and I know that he was just crying hard and it kills me.  I hate that he is at school, being upset and maybe wondering where I am, and I'm not there.  I'm down here, miles and miles away, trying to pry Maria or Veronica off my leg.  Logically, I know that he's fine, but since he started having these tantrums, I can hear him crying in my head, even when he's not.  

In the mornings, Mike goes in to get him and he always says "Hi, Buddy!", so cheery and happy and I wait, poised and tense, to see how Anthony will react.  Often, he is upset in the morning.  Often, he'll cry and yell and Maria will say to me, "Anthony doesn't feel good, Mommy?", and I'll say, "No.  No, he doesn't".  

Lately in the paper we've been reading - well, Mike reads it and tells me - about some sad autism stories.  A five year old was saved from drowning in a retention pond, after he left his apartment while his mom was lying down (I think to myself, NEVER LIE DOWN).  Parents of adult children with autism are told to leave them at homeless shelters, if they can't take care of them.  This is in Indiana, which is AWESOME, right?  It puts a whole different light on commercials when the Governor talks about how we are in such great shape, financially.  

Soooo, I guess I'm saying yes, there is stress.  How do I handle it?  I pray daily and almost hourly.  I pray for Anthony, I pray for a miracle, that he can handle his life in the world.  I pray for strength, and I pray for Mike and me.  Please note, this does not always work.  Sometimes, I get so mad and I think, how could God want my little boy to be screaming and crying like this?  What does this mean?  Why should Anthony be punished like this?  But that's only sometimes.  I know that mine is not to reason why, I know that I can just do the best I can by Anthony and that's that.  He'll have to live with us forever, he may never get a job, he'll never be toilet trained - these are things I worry about, but really, they could all be true of the two girls, too.  They're not *probable*, but it could happen.  Anything could happen to anyone's children, it's just that Mike and I know a little bit more about Anthony's future than we do about Maria and Veronica's.  I'm always saying I want to know the future, so maybe this is the way that I do?  

I do try to go out, I probably go out too much.  I like to go out and talk to other people, I like to go out with Mike.  The reason it seems like it's too much is because whenever we go out, it seems, the children know and punish us by waking up early.  Last night, we went out and were home before 11:00, I watched a little bit of a movie and fell asleep by 11:30, and then at 3:45, Veronica woke up and was up until almost 6:00.  So, it's fun to go out but it's never fun to be so tired, so that actually ends up adding to the stress and not alleviating it.  

I read, we watch a lot of escapist television, I try and work out.  I eat ice cream.  Honestly, we just plug away and try to plan a lot and not think too much.  We have put a lot of thought and work into what we are doing with Anthony right now, but we have to have faith that we have made the right decision and let it go, a little bit.  I love his therapists and I know they treat him like he's one of their own, and that's all I can ask.  I also try to not look for fights (believe it or not).  I can't look for offense in every single thing.  For example, right now there is this quiz going around Facebook about "Your Autism Quotient" and a lot of my friends have taken it.  They have taken a test to see how autistic they are.  It makes me mad, kind of, because I think if you are taking an adorable quiz about it, perhaps you don't have to worry that you have AUTISM.  But I am not going to be mad about it, I'm not going to look for things that separate me from my friends who have only typical children.  I'm going to look for things that make us the same.  We are all parents.  We have more similarities than differences.  

He's a beautiful, lovely boy.  He never screams at me or gets mad at me.  He works so hard.  He tries all the time.  Why should I be stressed out about that?  He is just who he's supposed to be, right now, and I get to be his mother.  Sometimes I can make him feel better when he feels just *awful*.  I always try and remember that, that I am here to help him, and that I have been given the ability to help him.  I don't always succeed, as I said, sometimes I get really mad.  But if I'm honest, I am mostly always mad at Maria.  Ha!  


Dani G said...

Even though you feel like you get punished for going out, it's so important to get that respite for you. I often think about getting on a place and being told we must put on our own oxygen masks before helping others.

Hopping by from the Sp needs blog hop :)

Stimey said...

This post really captured a lot about autism and the all-the-time-ness of it. You and I have very different children, but nonetheless I recognize so much in this post.

Also, I have a younger child that I want to strangle most of the time too.

Joanne said...

Stimey, ha! These poor younger ones who walk around not even knowing how their mothers want to strangle them! I always think we have a lot in common, but I guess as I said, I am always looking for that. But come on - three kids, gov't attorney husband, one kid has autism, those are similarities, right?

Jana said...

Every time I see that autism quiz on FB, I think of you and what you must be thinking about it. Ha!

I think the way you write about your relationship with Anthony is just lovely - and a good reminder that behind every face is a story.