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.)
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.
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.