Monday, March 14, 2011

A Lot Like Love

"We danced too wild, and we sang too long, and we hugged too hard, and we kissed too sweet, and howled just as loud as we wanted to howl, because by now we were all old enough to know that what looks like crazy on an ordinary day looks a lot like love if you catch it in the moonlight."~Pearl Cleage

This is me at the end of an ordinary day as I try to find my equilibrium on the predictably unpredictable roller coaster ride that is mothering a son with SPD. So few people know about SPD nor how it affects the behavior of the children who have it.

Even though Satch has done remarkably well and has been discharged from occupational therapy, the part of the brain that controls the way he receives data is still playing catch-up. He still senses things differently than the rest of us and thus behaves differently than one would expect in some situations. It's painful to witness my beautiful son continue to struggle with finding a way to fit in this world. He struggles to focus, struggles to remember boundaries, struggles to understand body language, struggles to remember the rules of conduct.

It's painful to watch him act the fool because in his mind, laughter is good, laughter means happiness. He struggles to understand when laughter is appropriate and when it's not. I once saw him drop trou because the child he was playing with was terribly upset and crying and it caused him such anxiety that he was willing to do anything to make her laugh, to make her "happy". Laughter = Happy in his world. It took some work to help him understand that his friend was entitled to her sad feelings and that it is not his job to make everyone laugh. I explained that sometimes just listening and being present for sad feelings is the best gift we can give. (Satch has an aversion to hugging anyone other than his family because of his sensory issues, so offering a hug is out of the question for him).

It seems that no matter how many times I explain things, no matter the consequences, the message is not retained. He still gets his wires crossed, so to speak. Satch describes it as feeling like "his gears get stuck". The bottom line is that he is like a spirited impulsive toddler living in a 5 year old body with an intellect more than twice his physical age. We guide our toddlers with grace knowing that they will outgrow certain behaviors, and impulsivity. It's hard not to have greater expectations from such an articulate and intelligent 5 year old.

What my son needs is simply the grace of time. I have to remind myself continuously, and try not to get wrung out by emotion when he is misunderstood.

He can be perceived as bossy or controlling and this is true on the surface, but beneath that is the reality that he is so confused by all the data that the rest of us so naturally process, he struggles to maintain his own sense of balance and grapples for things that he can control. Imagine how powerless you would feel if you were at a business convention and everyone there seemed to know what was going on, what to do, where to go, and how to act. Imagine that you kept getting lost, kept doing things wrong, and made people angry because you didn't get the memo. That is what it's like for my son - he didn't get the memo - and he goes through all the same emotions that we would in trying to deal with that. He gets embarrassed, he pretends it doesn't bother him, he gets angry at himself, he gets angry at the world. He struggles and it hurts. He's not misbehaving, he's misunderstanding.

There are times when I think that I lack the patience and fortitude it takes to mother him the way he deserves and then after the whirlpool of emotions rips me wide open, I come full circle into knowing that I have more patience than I give myself credit for, that I'm stronger than I know, that my capacity for love and understanding grows in direct relation to the extent I feel depleted.

I trust that my boy who is disruptively uncomfortable in groups will grow to be the man who prefers to spend time with his family and close friends rather than at a party or at noisy crowded events. My boy who tries to ignite laughter at inappropriate times will grow to be the man who skillfully uses humor to diffuse difficult situations. My boy whose senses are so heightened that he perceives the world around him differently, more slowly than others will grow into a man who has fine tuned his perceptions in a way that can only be seen as a gift .

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posted by Wendy at 5:28 AM


Blogger Josette Gutierrez said...

May the Lord of peace grant you peace that surpasses all understanding! You do mothering so gracefully!

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading your posts and feel in many ways, as a grandmother, I learn from your precious ways of mothering. Your Satch WILL grow to be a beautiful kind young man and this world will be a better place because you have given him the gift of life. Barbara

6:13 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

thank you, josette.
thank you, barbara.
much love to you and yours.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Magicaldamselfly said...

God gave you Satch because he knew that you would know how to love him, how to parent him and most of all how to accept him just as he is. He knew because he made you for Satch. Draw strength from the everyday miracles that exist all around you.
Thank you for being so raw and wide open in your writing here. You are a graceful and wonder*filled woman, be proud of that. Always know that you are God's gift to Satch.

9:45 AM  
Blogger denise said...

"The bottom line is that he is like a spirited impulsive toddler living in a 5 year old body with an intellect more than twice his physical age."

Yep. My 8 year old Aspie/SPD. Brilliant, but can't navigate emotions well. It is so tiring, every day is hard. Even good days. Laying on the floor doing full body hugs with an 8 year old screaming that he hates me and shut up because HE had a moment he couldn't handle...with no friends or support.

Ack. I totally sympathize, and it is hard to be in the moment, patient, calm and everything they need, all the time...especially because we moms need a break too. And with intense boys it doesn't stop, or pause, or go away. It is 24/7!

They will grow up and figure out how to navigate their feelings, their days, their emotions. They will grow and adjust and some things will end as they 'grow out of it', while some will be a part of what makes them who they are into adulthood.

It is quite a ride, but it is an honor to be a part of it. Hugs to you mama, you are amazing and inspiring, and your son is lucky to have you. xo

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Ray T Cook said...

Many years ago (more than I care to remember) I had this adorable niece who would come and spend the day with her grandparents and me. I had this little black kitten named Pi.
My niece would wrap the kitten in a little blanket, put her in a little stroller with a milk filled mini baby bottle and push her all over the yard. The cat being as weird as the rest of the family absolutely loved it. Eventually the kitten would doze off and my niece would put the carriage under a blooming cheery tree for shade and pull the netting over the top to keep the falling petals from disturbing the kitten.
Even while playing in the yard - my niece would keep a watchful eye on her "baby". She had amazing maternal instincts then and now many years later she has become an AWESOME mother. I know these things because I am your Uncle and you are my Niece.
Satchel is a very lucky young man - God hand chose his mother. The world is a better place with the two of you in it. And I am a better person for having both of you in my life.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous pixie said...

Wendy, are you kidding? You are the perfect woman for the job! You are both on a tiring, crazy, amazing ride of life together. I love you.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Honey said...

First off...the comment from your uncle was absolutly beautiful. I'm so glad you have supportive family. That's very important.

Second of son has SPD too. He just turned 12. He wasn't diagnosed until he was 10. Today I was a bad mother. I lost all patience with him. He was acting a 'fool' and I actually yelled at him. I asked him WHY he had to act the fool. I was so exasperated and honestly, kinda angry that he's not like the other boys. He still acts like a little boy so much...

He replied,"Because it's funny." And I said, "No's not." His just fell. And, I felt like such an ass.

After reading your post I had a moment and something changed. I've been focused on all the things I wish he'd do like the other boys his age when I should have thought of all the things he does do that is different from boys his age.

I see boys his age not wanting to spend time with their family...he actually hugs and kisses me just because all the time...and even in public.

He donates all his allowance to the 'poor kids' jar... And never fails to notice folks in need on corners so we can give out bags we put together with a shelf stable meal and money.

He compliments people all the time and says anytime I put on makeup..."You're beautiful without it you know." How sweet is that?!

He's protective of his sisters. One morning the meter reader showed up incredibly early. I didn't know it was a meter reader. When I came back in from investigating he had his sisters under the bed and he was standing in front of it with a baseball bat. When I asked him what he was doing he said,"No one will take the girls."

He tries to reuse and recycle everything.

He asks strangers if they need help loading their groceries/lifting a heavy box and he'll hold a door open forever for people.

I've seen him turn around and say to a group of 16ish yr olds who were saying, "That's gay!" over and over that his cousins' mom is a lesbian and that'd hurt her feelings to hear someone saying such mean things. (What was mind blowing was this group of boys actually apologized to him for being mean.)

I worry so much about him when he's grown...will he find love...have children...get married...hold a job...own a car and drive...go to college...But, I never thought about WHO he'll be. He's so gentle and protective...he'd be great with animals and children...he's so with those who are lost...something environmental...what person wouldn't love having a partner who loves them as just them? What person wouldn't love someone who'd put their self in harms way to protect those he loves. Maybe he'll live in the city or will live his ecolife hiking and riding a trike. And, who says you HAVE to go to college to be successful?

My world had become about what isn't but it's now about what is. Thank you. I'm writing a reminder on my bathroom mirror that says...'Remember what IS' to help every morning have the right start.

Thank you,

12:15 AM  

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