Friday, June 13, 2008

Frustrations of Motherhood

I've known this woman for about a year. We run into each other on occasion at parties of mutual friends and whatnot. At one point we got to talking about our kids, and she disclosed her son is autistic when I disclosed that Kiki has DS.

I ran into her again this last weekend, and we started talking again. Her son is school age, while Kiki is only a year old. Even with the age difference though, I'd have to say that I can't imagine what she goes through as the mother of an autistic child. She warns me that I'll have some of the same problems when Kiki is school age -- teachers who won't want to deal, kids who isolate and mock -- and I'm sure she's right. But right now, it's hard to imagine. Hard to grasp. And I still think she has it harder.

Kipp I think nailed it last night when we talked about it. What little I know about autism -- Kipp has more experience; his ex worked with autistic children and often included them in family holidays -- I'm aware that they have difficulty connecting, interacting with others. And this is why it's hard for me to even think of myself as the parent of a child with a disability. I'm aware that Kiki has a learning disability, believe me, but it seems so inconsequential compared to how engaging she is, how social and fun and funny she is.

And some things she just picks up and keeps. She has this growl she does, which was her first noise and her preferred noise, and we've learned to work it into context. Every time she did it, we started saying, "Kiki, what does a lion say?" And now, when you say, "Kiki, what does a lion say?" she growls on cue.

But other things. The babbling for example. For months now we've gone through this cycle where she'll babble incessantly for about three days straight. We'll reinforce it constantly, babbling to her, even to the point where she would babble on cue back to us, ba-ba-ba and ma-ma-ma and da-da-da, all of them.

Then one day she will wake up and -- just not do it anymore. And we have to start all over from scratch, as if she'd never learned it before, starting with ba-ba-ba, painstakingly for weeks until she's back where she was for those three days before.

And yes, it's happened again. Her babbling, after three days of absolute mastery, completely ceased on Tuesday or thereabouts. Today she's started hesitantly, almost accidentally, started ba-ba. So at least the stretches of time between amnesiac bouts seems to be lessening, but.

It's frustrating. And I am not a patient woman. And I'm a control freak.

I told Kiki today while we were playing, "I hope God had YOUR best interests in mind when He gave you to me. He certainly had my best interests in mind, at any rate."

And it's true. Like I say, I'm not a patient woman and I am a control freak. But if you were to compare me now to what I was a year ago? I'm not going to say anything drastic like "night and day" or anything, but there is a profound difference.

Um, I hope anyway (as I catch myself yelling at Bri to close the door behind her. Does she live in a barn?)


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