Mother’s Day is one of those days that I like staying off social media (well, as much as I can anyway). It’s an endless stream of pretty pictures of perfect looking families, handmade cards and cute craft jewelry.
Norrin doesn’t know what Mother’s Day is. And while he made me a sweet gift and card, I found it in his room, on the floor. He didn’t understand he was supposed to give it to me. I know that Norrin loves me, I don’t need a day for that. But sometimes I wish our lives were a little like everyone else’s.
Joseph offered to take Norrin out – to give me a few free hours to myself. But it was a beautiful day and I wanted to be with them. I suggested we go to the beach. I literally said the words, “Let’s go fly a kite.”
Norrin loves the beach. Being near the water puts me at ease. Though it’s hard to be at ease with Norrin so close to the water. Because he loves that too.
We wanted to walk along the boardwalk to the end of the beach where there were less people. As we got closer, Norrin bolted to the sand and started running toward the water. Joseph and I called his name, telling him to stop. But he kept running and we ran after him. I know Norrin wouldn’t have made it to the water, but that fear is still there. He has no awareness of danger. And it makes me painfully aware of how vulnerable we all are. How letting go of his hand – even for a moment – could have perilous results.
“We’re going home,” Joseph told Norrin. “You have to listen. When you don’t listen, you will not get to do fun things.”
Joseph was frustrated. Norrin was on the verge of a meltdown. And I wondered why flying a kite on the beach on Mother’s Day had to be so difficult.
As we walked back on the boardwalk Norrin began to cry. I sat him down on a nearby bench and tried talking to him. He threw off his sunglasses. I asked him to pick them up and bring them back. Norrin walked to the sunglasses and kicked them. I asked him again to bring me the sunglasses. He kicked them again. We went through this two more times until Norrin brought them back. Then he started spitting and scripting and crying. We sat together on the bench until he calmed down.
It’s that mother moment where I wonder if anything we are doing works. I question how much Norrin really understands. Can he truly not control his impulsivity? Or does he not care?
I wish that I could read his mind. Because during these times, I have no idea what he’s thinking or feeling. My child is a stranger is to me. And it’s a game of twenty questions without ever getting an answer.
“Do you want to try to fly the kite again?” I asked.
After Norrin said yes, I told him he had to listen.
We walked back to the sand and I watched as Norrin and Joseph flew the kite and took pictures. (I have zero kite flying skills.) After a while, Norrin got bored and started playing around in the sand. Then he made another run for it.
Joseph and I ran after him. But this time, we gave in and walked him as close to the water as possible. He pulled on our hands trying to break free from our grasp. A casual stroll along the beach felt like a tug of war.
And then we left.
For the rest of the day, all I could think about was the what ifs and what wills? What if he got lost? What will it be like when Norrin gets too big to physically control and hold back? As much as I try to live day by day, the future always creeps in.
Later that evening, after Norrin was asleep. I crawled into bed beside Joseph and I cried – grateful to have someone to console me and cry to. Raising a kid with autism isn’t easy; there are good days and bad days. Mother’s day was neither. It was just another day. And I went to bed hoping for a better tomorrow.