Always–A Special Guest Post

Jenna and I bonded over many things when we first met: our love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, the dream of living in a loft in NYC. One specific thing that my VBFFLSMSW and I shared was a love for the written word. We took creative writing classes together, wrote poetry and prose together, even took a one week writer’s course in NYC together.

(What? Oh. It stands for Very Best Friend For Life Soul Mate Sister Wife. I thought it was pretty clear.)

Jenna and me

After school, I continued writing, pursuing the career I’ve always dreamed of having. Jenna got married, started a family, and writing fell a little to the wayside for her. She has always supported me in my endeavors–she was the first to jump in line to read my novel, and she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to the blog. But I know, deep down, she misses that creative part of herself. I’ve given her journals over the years, encouraged her to jot things down when they come to her. But as we all know, life sometimes gets in the way.

So when she sent me an email this morning with a word document attached, I couldn’t help but cheer. And then I read what she sent, and knew immediately it needed to be shared with the world. And so, in honor of my Soul Mate, and National Autism Awareness Month, I give you Jenna’s first guest post.
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My name is Jenna.  I have two beautiful, brilliant, sweet, hilarious children: a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old daughter.  My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when he was two.  I can’t believe how far we’ve come since then (especially as I look back over his assessments and old IEPs in preparation for his IEP review – the first since his original intake.  I feel very much like a general planning for war or like a poker player trying to decide how much of his hand to tip … somewhere in between those two … and maybe to the left a little.)  Like all good moms, I strive to give my children the best of everything, which is why I chose for them the perfect godmother.  Her name is Abby, and this, as you know, is her blog.

Here we are again.  We haven’t been here for a long time, so long that I’d almost forgotten.

But it all came crashing back when you fell apart.

The grocery store didn’t have any green race car shopping carts left.  We always get the green cart.

Always.

Every grocery store trip used to be like this.  Me pulling the cart behind us, at first pregnant, then very pregnant, and then, later, with Ellie in her carrier, sometimes sleeping, sometimes crying.

You, slung over my shoulder, thrashing, kicking, and screaming at the top of your lungs.

It wasn’t your fault.  You had just gotten overwhelmed; too many colors, sounds, lights, people, textures.  I know all that now.  I didn’t know it then.

Then, all I knew was that I somehow had to get all the groceries on my list from the shelves to the cart.

Just five more things.  Just five more things. Just five more things. Just five more things.

Just four more things.  Just four more things.  Just four more things.  Just four more things.

And the screaming.  Screaming.  Screaming.  Screaming.

The green carts are all being used, sweetie.  The carts are for everybody.

You were smaller then; people expect a one year old, a two year old, to have melt downs. Avoid eye contact, head down, get it done, just get through it.  But people were mostly supportive, “You go mom!” “You got your hands full!”  You were smaller then.

It’s different now.

We haven’t been here for such a long time, so long that I’d almost forgotten.

We have a system now.  We talk through transitions.  Routine.  Routine.  Routine.

We always get the green cart. Always.

Just four things. Just four things. Just four things. Just four things.  Just four things.

Just three more things.  Just three more things.  Just three more things.  Just three more things.

The screaming.  Screaming.  Screaming.  Screaming.

Now they’re the ones avoiding eye contact with me.

Studiously looking anywhere else.

Pretending they don’t hear.

Which is better, really.  One judgmental glare and a flood of rage would pour out from all the dark places where I keep it carefully, tightly packaged.

It’s better. I would attack – maybe physically, probably verbally; either would involve spittle.

We had to get the red race car cart.  We always get the green. Always.

Waiting in line.  Waiting and waiting.  Waiting and waiting and screaming.

Almost done.  Almost done. So carefully, tightly packaged.

We have a system.  Routine. Routine.  Routine.

Only Mommy can touch the cart.  Remember to use your words; remember what to say.

Please don’t touch the cart.  Please wait and let Mommy push the cart.

Please wait and let me push the cart; the kids get upset when anyone else touches the cart.

Almost done.  Almost out.  Almost over.

Ma’am, please don’t …

Not her fault; just force of habit.

You, slung over my shoulder, screaming and screaming and screaming.

Routine.  We always get the green cart.  Only Mommy can touch the cart.  We have a system.

You did a good job using your words, Buddy.  I’m sorry she didn’t hear you.

So carefully, tightly packaged.

I’d almost forgotten, but here we are again.

We have a system, but it all came crashing down and you fell apart.

3 thoughts on “Always–A Special Guest Post

  1. Jessie

    It gets better with time. One day you’ll realize it’s been a month or more since you’ve used the green cart, but it will be something else in his routine that has taken its place. It was the black Police buggie for us, replaced with a free cookie and his own hand held basket. Hugs. Our children are amazing with all their many quarks and, yes, their little flaws. They become perfect because of them, and we become better because of our children. You’re doing wonderfully, Jenna.

  2. Dad

    I struggled with my stepson for seven years. He has ADD/ODD. I fought the school system, the doctors, the drugs, the family and his Mom. I watched him kept drugged up until it gave him voices in his head. Puberty hit and they switched him from Ritalin to Adderal. Bad move. I wanted him to learn coping skills. I wanted him to get better. He’s on his own now and I worry about him every day. I read all the books. Watched all the videos about ADHD. I know what you’re going through and know what’s ahead of you. You’re in my prayers. All of you.

  3. Carrie Baughcum

    WOW!!! I have so much to say. First, you are amazing. Your words are amazing- their flow and cadence bring feeling and emotion to me as I read, your strength is amazing- all moms know the stare but the stare changes as they get older and it hurts more when others don’t understand and your deep perceptiveness is amazing and beautiful- you are in tune with your son, understand his needs, are respectful of them, empower him and you love him deeply (yes I can tell that from these words). And while this may sound weird to say the fact that you move forward when things aren’t just as they need to be (and can only begin to understand how ridiculously hard it is to go through this) does show him that the world is not always perfect and as expected and it teaches him resilience and will bring new skills with time. In the mean time I hope that you have wonderful people in your life you can continue to share these types of stories with because you are not alone. In these moments, the ones that almost break us, it is important to know you are not alone and it will get better.

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