The Effects of "Keeping It Together"

Ethan was so excited to show Daddy his
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree hat
that he made at school!
It was all so adorable!!!
Have you ever been in a difficult moment? Attending a horrible meeting at work, awkwardly running into someone from your past, or giving a presentation when you are afraid of public speaking?

How do you cope?

Me? I keep it together in the moment & then fall apart when I get to the safety of my home....sometimes my car or the women's bathroom. Then, I either cry or call someone. I have always been one to fall apart in private.

I see the same thing in Ethan.

Can he make it through children's church? Yes. Can he attend a birthday party? Yes. Can he sit in a stadium & cheer with other fans? Well.....not just yet, but he is showing signs of that happening soon!

But what happens after he has endured these events? When he gets home, he exhibits a lot of self calming behavior. Usually spinning, crashing, screaming & crying. Occasionally...big meltdowns.

The effects of participating in these activities are necessary in order for Ethan's systems to "reset" or calm down. BUT......it is VERY HARD for us (Corey & I) to witness. And I'm sure it's even harder for Ethan.

There is a huge swelling inside my heart whenever Ethan overcomes a challenge. I'm so proud of him & his hard work. However, when we come home, the air is let out of our sails a bit when we once again witness increased autistic behavior. It's hard to watch...not only does it give me yet another reminder that Ethan is different, but I also feel like a horrible mother for putting him through an activity that caused him such stress.

But we continue to push through such things because Ethan HAS to learn how to cope in this world. And I knew that all day Kindergarten would be a challenge that he would HAVE to face....and that moment was on my mind every time I would encourage Ethan to try/endure another activity.

That moment is now....that time has come. Ethan has been in all day Kindergarten for a week now, and we are definitely starting to see the self-calming behaviors emerge in the evenings.

What does this all mean for our family? Well....we won't be participating in any after school or evening activities on a regular basis for awhile. Mrs. B (Ethan's school aide) says that these have been very long days for Ethan, but we are hopeful that he will soon get used to this new routine.

It also means that I need to....once again....grow another layer of tough skin. Tonight, Ethan was frustrated, and a small meltdown occured. As Ethan was crying, he kept repeating, "I don't know how to be a good boy! I'm just a bad boy!"

I have NEVER used those words in my house. We have a strict "no-name calling" policy in our home. So hearing Ethan call himself a "bad boy" just about did me in. As I was holding my crying child who was repeating this horrible mantra, I also began to cry. I started saying my own mantra to him..."You are not a bad boy. You are a very good boy." Finally, Corey stepped in & took him to take his bath....and they have been playing in their for about an hour now.

As I sit here sharing this with all of you, I do want to remind myself of the positives that we have in our life everyday....and there are many.

1. Ethan is attending an all day typical classroom.
2. Ethan has been blessed with a personal aide.....we love you, Mrs. B!
3. Ethan is LOVING Kindergarten! And we are over the moon crazy for his new teacher!
4. I am able to take care of my sister's kids during the day. One every afternoon & one on No School days.
5. Ethan & I walk to school in the morning together. It is my new favorite part of my day.
6. I love that when Ethan is upset, he still crawls up on my lap for comfort.
7. Corey has flexible work hours & can even work from home occasionally when I am sick.
8. I'm living the life I always dreamed....being a wife & mother. I am truly blessed.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, I was telling my mother-in-law a little bit about this, and she told me that people need to know about it. And I think she's right. It's great to share in the victories...they keep us going! But, there is still a hardship that corresponds with it. For all of us.