By LJ Goes
Recently my daughter Mads and I headed off to the neighborhood mani pedi place for a day Fancy Nancy would have considered the ultimate in posh (that’s a fancy word for ritzy!).
The Daddy Daughter Dance sponsored by our local high school was on the calendar and Mads wanted to look divine. From my seat in the salon I observed her budding confidence. The nail artist painstakingly created a perfect white flower on her bright neon orange nail. “Thank you! Wow, that is amazing!” She preened, smiling the widest most brilliant smile, following her amazement with infectious giggles. I wished with all my supernatural maternal power that the joyful feeling of beholding her in that moment could last forever.
Meanwhile, at home, our son, Noah, who was misdiagnosed with autism, worked on toileting with one of his caregivers. He hates toileting. It annoys him and since he is often hard pressed to find the language to express his distain, he often acts out with slaps and screams. We’ve seen great gains with his most recent treatment protocol, but, as anticipated by his physician he’s recently hit a period of regression. I savored my time with Mads like a prison inmate appreciates time in the yard.
Hours later I was working her up-do like a pro, putting hair pins in all the right places and spraying strategically. Her little brother Liam kept grabbing the hair accessories and clipping them to the new Harley Davidson sweatshirt his father had purchased for him today at the Motorcycle of All Motorcycles stores. “I want a fast bike mom! The big one!” Greeaaat, I thought. A little Dave. Handsome, super smart, and DANGEROUS! “No you don’t.” I said. He walked out of the room with his head held high chanting, “yes I dooo-oooo!” I heard him relay the exchange to my husband who yelled up to me that I shouldn’t squelch our youngest son’s free spirit. Niiice.
Around 5:30 my in-laws arrived for pictures and I hit the wall. Anxious, angry, sad and overwhelmed would accurately describe me between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 on any given day. My Mood Ring, Noah, demonstratively began to project how I felt to our guests and anyone within earshot of our house. He acted out, whining, screaming and slapping. My mom-in-law, sensing the tension, offered to take Liam for a special trip to her house so I could manage his behavior (and my own) without distraction. Thank God for the village.
Moments later the door shut behind them all - just me and my Mood Ring for the remainder of the evening. What to do first? Five loads of laundry? The dishes? The disgusting…and I mean—DISGUSTING floors? Tackle the filthy bathrooms? I have an article due next week, papers to read and sign for our non-profit, phone calls to return, emails in need of attention that have been sitting in my inbox for weeks; IEP reports to review and 2 new protocols to research. Playdate requests. RSVP’s for children’s parties to send out. Doctors to track down. Test results to interpret. That bloody blinking light on the home phone. You have 9 new messages, 42 saved…
What to do, what to do…
Defeated, I headed for the pantry. Chocolate covered almonds? Organic margarita? Nah, too festive for my state of overwhelm. Plus, my Mood Ring was not interested in my attempts to self-medicate. He slammed the pantry door and grabbed me by the shirt. “No! No! Go!”
“What do you want?” I asked, not even hiding my annoyance. (Bad mommy) Today Mads got the best of me , kid. We just gotta get through the night, see? “Use your words buddy, tell me what you want?”
“UPSTAIRS!” Okay, well, he used his words. Loud and clear. That meant he wanted to go jump on the counters in our master bath and lick the mirrors. Not tonight. I’m beat. My back hurts. No. Only, I can’t say no, because that triggers a meltdown.
“Bud, we are going to stay down here, where’s your iPad?”
“No, no, no, no, no.” He’s pulling me now and I am already half way up the steps. Should have made that margarita when I had a chance.
We arrived upstairs and I was immediately distracted by the state of my closet. Clothes, clean and dirty comingled on the floor. Gross. I bent over to sort.
“No, no, no, no, no!
“Okay, Noah, what?”
“SHIRT OFF.” Oh, a bath. It’s not quite time yet, but, fine. I helped him take his shirt off.
“No, no, no, no, no!”