Friday, July 12, 2013

He bit. I cried.

I'm wallowing in sadness today. It's a pity party all my own, with a little glass of wine and self-indulgent moping with lots of sighing. I feel bad on so many levels.

We went to our church's family camp this week. And let me say first off that most of it was wonderful. We had moments to really connect with other people, to refresh old friendships and make new ones. I got to go to the "adults'" program, which fed part of me that's been pretty neglected lately. People were amazingly supportive of us and of Soren, asking how to help, including us whenever they could, asking about us and our journey and excusing our not-so-quiet early exits from most events.

And Soren did great in so many ways: he got used to eating in a huge dining room filled with chaos and noise (okay, he ate mostly grated cheese and saltines, but whatever, he ATE!); he adapted really well to the babysitter we had arranged for the mornings; he loved swimming with his daddy in the lagoon.

But on Wednesday evening, he bit another little boy--hard. And then I cried. A lot.

I cried out of embarrassment and empathy for that little boy and his momma. For a little guy who was bitten for no reason that he could fathom and for the momma that had to explain autism to a six-year-old. For knowing how it feels when our children are hurt by others.

I cried out of mortification that we made a scene. Ending a lovely conversation with other adults mid-sentence to deal with the chaos. Soren and I both crying as I shooed him into our cramped little room that all three of us shared and sat bewildered on the sagging bed.

I cried that the week had been hard. It was hard for Soren to sleep and eat and keep himself busy. It was hard for us to manage night waking while worrying about waking up everyone else (Soren is still doing night waking for one to two hours at a time, usually accompanied by happy and LOUD jumping). It was hard to not have adult time with Erik or other church friends because one of us is always on and following Soren around, especially mid-meal. I was resentful that we took time out of adult sessions to check a six-year-old's diaper.

I cried out of jealousy of all the other parents who gloried in the fact that this was such a safe place for their kids to run around without parental supervision. That that will never be our experience.

I cried out of isolation. That we needed to provide so much alone time for our kid that we were really hiding in our room much of the time. That I couldn't have deep conversations with others that lasted longer than Soren could finish his saltines. That so much of my identity and daily occupation is caring for my son and how limiting and boring that feels some of the time.

And then. And then I cried with crushing guilt because I was raging about all of this to Erik in front of my son. He may or may not have understood me. But I know in my tantrum I said phrases like "why is this so hard" and "I'm just exhausted" and "I'm so embarrassed." And my child should not hear that from his mom.

And finally, I cried out of shame for leaving camp early, avoiding talking to others about why we were leaving. I felt like leaving was a failure on my part--of planning, of emotion, of not reading my kid's overstimulation, of not having enough energy. Of expecting so much. Of quitting.

I've taken a day to process all of this, and I think I have a bit more distance and peace about the past week. I'm tempted to tie it all up with a nice bow and declare something like "we did our best" or "lessons learned"--something that will feel resolved for me and you. But the truth is I'm really sad, and right now, I'm going to leave it at that.


  1. I cried reading this.

    You're incredibly courageous to share what you likely prefer remains hidden, to invite us into your grief, sadness, frustration, guilt, anger, embarrassment, exhaustion, compassion and humanity. Who among us hasn't experienced a perfect storm of emotions when something happens that leaves us reeling with its impact and the realization that we simply have nothing left?

    Who among us hasn't been scared and/or mortified that we harbor such a beast within us and that it sometimes breaks loose and creates havoc before exhausting itself? All of us to one degree or another, but I know far fewer who have dealt with it as you have: with respect.

    Maybe that's not quite the right word, but I mean to say that (in my opinion) by acknowledging all the ugly feelings that emerged and letting the the residual sadness run its course rather than trying to stifle it (or dress it up with a bow), you're also recharging and renewing yourself, allowing yourself to absorb the peace you've gained as a result of the distance.

    I hope you know that your strength of character never abandoned you--it simply provided an outlet when the time came. I hope, too, that the feelings of guilt, shame and failure have diminished and that you are recognizing and embracing the better angels of your nature. They are legion.

  2. So beautiful, Wendy. Thanks for this.

  3. I'm just now catching up with this post...I hope it's okay to post a comment and that you keep saying the hard stuff. I soooooooo admire you and am always, ALWAYS glad when you share the realness of it all.

    And it pushes me to share my apology that I really had no idea what was going on that evening until Tara checked in with me be super, SUPER clear that she wanted to be a part of any and all support that could be extended to you and Soren and that she felt horrible and apologetic about how her son which my response is also a bit apologetic, it's just as likely that MY son would have gotten ramped up and hit another kid. I think it was after you left that everyone in our cabin was subjected to hearing my son scream bloody murder while I was forced to hold him down because he LOST it and was hitting and throwing so many things.

    Ideally, he would have bitten Benjamin and we'd both be commiserating over a glass of wine and feeling relieved that at least the wounds were equally given and received. I know I'm not supposed to feel that way but as long as you're being willing to be so honest...

    There's a reason church camp is still paid time for me...because if I *COULD* leave in the middle of the night there are may years I would have been out of there.

    We love you. We are sooooo glad you risked so much to come.

    - Amy



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