Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed.  That’s how I’m feeling at the moment, with no real right to be.  Nothing has happened, Emma continues to make nice strides, yet even as I say that, a little voice is muttering, “Really?  Is she really making strides or are you just grasping at straws to make yourself feel better?”

Sometimes I just want to rant and whine and complain, yet as I write this, I know that’s not really what I want.  Okay, maybe a little. But it’s more the feeling of wanting to turn the volume down in my head.  If they had a worry lobotomy I think I’d sign up.  Or maybe that’s what a lobotomy is.  I just don’t want all that other nasty stuff that comes with a full lobotomy, just take the worries away, thank you very much.  What I really want is to not feel this way.

When Emma was diagnosed and still two-years old I remember after a long training session in which Richard and I were supposed to continue with her ABA program after the seventh or eighth therapist left our home for the evening, I thought – I don’t want to be my daughter’s therapist.  I want to be her mother.  Being her mother doesn’t seem to rate high on the importance scale of most of these methodologies.  A few years later when Richard and I went down to Bethesda and trained with the late Stanley Greenspan in his DIR/floortime, I felt the same way.  After Stanley advised us that we should each be doing seven or eight 20 minute floortime sessions with her a day, I thought – I don’t want to run interference, constantly launching questions at her to encourage language like rounds fired from a .44 magnum.  (Yeah, I just googled that, because I’m completely insane AND a stickler for accuracy in the similes I use.)

The point is – if I’m being perfectly honest – I’m feeling a little lazy at the moment.  But laziness with an autistic child is really not something I can afford to be.  I mean her life is hanging in the balance while I’m whinging about how I don’t want to take the time to map out her next study session.  (Don’t you love it when people use words such as “if I’m being perfectly honest,” and “frankly” and “truthfully” or my personal favorite, “if truth be told” ?  To preface a comment with “Truthfully” implies that one is NOT usually truthful, which, for some reason, strikes me as hysterically funny.  Okay.  I’ve had my moment..)

I know that feeling of overwhelm is like fear, or worry or any number of other emotions that do nothing positive, in fact serve only to keep me deeply embedded in the stagnating cycle of fear and worry, like air that’s being recycled through a dirty filter.  (Stop with the similes!  This should be said in a high pitched Monty Pythonish voice.  But I can’t help myself!)  I know the only way to break out of this is to do the thing I keep putting off doing.

Just do it.

I know.  I know.

I think I’ll go make a list.

It will be a very long list.

I hate long lists.

Ugh.

To read my latest piece, Emma’s New Shoes, in the Huffington Post, click ‘here

And if you haven’t already done so, do vote for Emma’s Hope Book by clicking this ‘link‘ and clicking on the “like” button opposite Emma’s Hope Book.

20 responses to “Overwhelmed

  1. You know, whenever I think of you, the first word that pops into my mind is…LAZY! Ha!

    If you’re feeling that way, the best thing you could do is something nice to take care of yourself — cause guess what, you bust your butt every day of the week — and you deserve it!

  2. I agree with Richard…that;s the way I always think of you LAZY! Just sitting around doing nothing, just whining and complaining. HA! My gorgeous daughter? What she is “truthfully” is caring, loving, working “like a dog” (I like that expression too, because when my dogs are not playing, or sniffing at something awful, or romping, or barking at imaginary monsters, they’re sleeping and of course that’s not my daughter), and she’s thinking and working at ways to improve Emma’s life, and for that matter everyone’s, mine included.

    And you know what? My daughter Ariane is succeeding. But again as Richard says, maybe you need to have a massage? A facial? A day off? A day just to indulge yourself in frivolity? So that the next day you can go on loving, caring, working, worrying, and being a Mother.

    Mom

  3. Ariane – you are far from lazy… and you’re right – Emma needs her mom, too. Yes, it’s important to have therapists and help develop skills, but it’s equally (or perhaps moreso) important for Emma to know she has someone who loves her unconditionally, who will help her grow, but who also just takes her where she is… that’s the role of parents. 🙂 I think a lot of methodologies get caught up in the “all therapy, all the time” mode… it sounds great, but brains need time to rest and assimilate the information before they can apply the lessons. So your gut feeling of “I want to be her MOM” seems right on. I know it’s super hard to say “ok, I’m *not* going to do more therapy sessions today, even though it *might* help” – because we’re trained to think that “more is better”. But sometimes more isn’t better. Definitely not NONE (there is lots and lots of good that can come from therapies being reinforced), but there comes a point where there is diminishing returns.

    • Oh E, I really, really appreciate your comment. Because it IS hard to tell myself it’s okay to just be with her without working on some aspect of her language, writing and reading, etc. But when I think about it from her point of view, she must feel pretty overwhelmed with the constant barrage of “work” too. I will remember that – “but there comes a point where there is diminishing returns.”

  4. Good morning Ariane,

    I see the answer written in your post, you should watch Monty Python (Holy Grail is my personal favorite) while making the list, especially since it will be a long list you will have plenty of time to wtach the movie. And, you need to spend the day speaking in an “outrageous french accent.”

    The point is my dear, “in all honesty” (I don’t think you referred to that one) you need to laugh, laugh hard and laugh long. I say this not to belittle your mood, but because I KNOW YOUR MOOD, I know it well, and as as a “friend” (an internet-ish one) when we get into certain moods we need someone who knows, someone who cares, to say, take care of yourself! Because you need and Emma needs a whole, intact, and contented (or at least mildly so) mom!

    As my favorite all-time musician and philosopher Jimmy Buffett sings, in my all-time favorite song, “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”

    So get out there and LAUGH! 🙂

    • Love this, Charlotte. “Outrageous french accent” is something Richard and I have done and while it may seem completely absurd to anyone overhearing us, WE think it is the funniest thing. We’ve even riffed on the idea of going to France and speaking English with a heavy french accent while feigning horror and indignation when no one seems to understand us. It is one of my all time favorite silly fantasies.
      Laughter, yup, the best remedy of all!

  5. Hi Ariane,

    Oh, my! Lazy is definitely not a word that I would think of when reading any of your posts! Any parent willing to go and learn how to do therapy at home, and try to implement it is working very hard. Don’t forget all of the “mental energy work” that plays out with having a child on the spectrum. (I am not excluding all children, they all require a lot of mental and physical energy….Please know what I mean! 🙂 )

    Feeling overwhelmed, tired, and wanting to take a rest from it all is actually a healthy outlook. Your mind and body are telling you something and it’s ok. It doesn’t make you lazy – it is the warning signs of needing a little break. That is easy for me to say, and I will be “completely honest” I do not do it. (Really, I am being honest though.)

    You do not need to add the pressure of feeling bad for feeling overwhelmed, or wanting to hang out with Emma as her mother and not her therapist. Sometimes the best therapy Daniel and I have had has been sitting quietly together. 🙂

    However, I do know this feeling and have plenty of my own words confessing some similar feelings. Just remember not to be too hard on yourself, and hold onto all of the accomplishments! Never negate them – too much work has gone into them.

    I think E and Charlotte are both spot on! A French accent makes anything better. Lol!

    Hoping for a lift of spirits for you!
    Angel

    • I just left a comment on your mother’s day post over on your blog! All these comments have made me feel soooo much better. Thank you for joining in. Now I have to go read your post on guilt as that is something else I know a thing or two about!

  6. From day one in to our journey with therapy, I said the exact same thing….”I just want to be his mother.” That being said, being just a mother is in no way lazy! You will never be referred to as lazy and guess what, if you ever decide to be some day, that is OK too! I really enjoy a good Sunday afternoon nap! :O) I really think we all need our down time. I let the therapists and the teachers do their thing and I let him relax and watch his videos and do whatever he finds relaxing as soon as he gets home from school. I think we all benefit from knowing how to relax. I would hate for someone to be in my face as soon as I got home from work! :O) Just like any kid really…..my daughter gets plenty of downtime too. We are a very unstructured family and sometimes people frown upon that but we are laidback and easygoing and I think those aren’t such bad traits either! :O) She get’s straight A’s and Brett does good at school too. So we can’t be too bad! 🙂 I felt guilty this morning too because Brett’s caretaker showed up to take him to school. He was awake early for him so I said, “Brett…since it is early you can play on your ipad a bit before school.” She nicely stated, “After he gets dressed and makes his waffle, he can play if there is time.” Now bless her because she has taught him so many things and self help skills. I felt ashamed at first and then I thought…you know what, I enjoy watching him in his jammies on the weekends, sleeping in some and making his breakfast for him. Just like I enjoy doing on the weekends. So, good for her and good for me. :O) We both do our parts! :O) Take some time for yourself!! So important!

    B~

  7. I’m also a huge fan of when the highest regards for a person is followed by the most horrendous personal attack on them. “I love her to death, but she’s such a lazy sack of horse manure” or “she’s the absolute sweetest person I’ve ever met in my entire life, but her writing is sooo boring.” It seems hysterical how saying something kind about someone first will then allow any atrocious comments to follow. When it’s a really, really nasty remark, you might hear the initial sentiment repeated (“I love the guy, but he’s as useless as a screen door on a submarine, but I still love the guy”).

    What I’m trying to say is that you’re the least lazy person I know. You’re the greatest go-getting mother of any autistic child that I’ve ever met and there’s no nasty comment to follow! Your insatiable desire to help Emma progress is what keeps moving her forward. Emma’s success has come from your tenacious research and solution-seeking, which is truly admirable. You’re the brains of this operation, I’m just the muscle.

    I know you’re reluctant to give yourself credit since there’s so much more that you want for Emma but please know how invaluable and irreplaceable you are to your family, especially Emma.

    Continue to see the light and be the light.

    Go-get. You do it so beautifully.

    Don’t worry about falling down along the way, there are so many people who love you who’ll be there to get you back on your feet.

  8. Pingback: Frustration, Self Injurious Behavior & Autism | Aspen Post

  9. Its okay to fall down some times. Just be sure to let others in to help you get up. Be sure to use all the support from family and friends you have around you Ariane. It’s something I am learning to do and it isn’t easy. Big hugs to you.

  10. Pingback: Look! She’s a Therapist, She’s a Teacher, No She’s a Mom | Aspen Post

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