Tag Archives: crying

Why I’m Not Wearing Mascara

7 Feb

“You look tired,” said my mother-in-law gently. “Why don’t you put a bit of makeup on you?”

She meant well – of course she did – but what she had way of knowing is that I never wear mascara to airports. Because no matter how I try to talk myself up as this brave, strong person, at airports I turn into a blubbery crybaby.

The plan this evening was that I would check in for my flight, and then spend time hanging out with my family. But we all knew, with George’s autism being what it is, that this might not happen. Even at relatively quiet times like this, airports are loud, busy places with lots of people and bright fluorescent lights. Airports are a recipe for sensory overload for a child with autism who’s already bewildered by the idea that his Mommy is going away.

And so I checked in, and then George tolerated a few minutes of looking at the planes before they had to go. I hugged my mother-in-law, and then clutched onto my children without wanting to ever let them go. A hug and kiss for my husband, and then they were off.

I stood in the middle of the wide terminal and watched them go. I didn’t move until long after they were out of sight. I savoured every glimpse of them that I could get, trying to get enough to last me for the next twelve days.

And then, just as my eyes were starting to overflow, I bolted into the Ladies Room and hid myself in a stall. When the flow of tears had subsided, I washed my face, surveyed my worn-out looking self in the mirror, and remembered just why it is that I never wear mascara to airports.

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The Parent Who Disappointed

31 Jan

This weekend I had the dubious distinction of being The Parent Who Disappoints.  It’s not a nice feeling, I tell ya.  In fact, it’s downright awful.  I feel like someone’s reached down into my throat and twisted my heart around when I see my five-year-old son standing in front of me with fat tears rolling down his cheeks because of something I’ve done.  Or in this case, failed to do.

James was supposed to go to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon.  The party was being held for a little girl who goes to school and daycare with him.  She is a really, really lovely child with equally lovely parents.  James was excited about going to the party, but the catch was that I would have had to stay at the party with him. He’s not ready to be left without either of his parents at an unfamiliar house (and frankly, I’m not ready for it either).

It’s not that I mind staying at these parties.  In fact, I kind of enjoy sitting there chatting with the other parents while our kids run around and play.

On Saturday, though, I was sick. I was streaming with a cold, using up Kleenexes at the speed of sound, inhaling cough drops like they were Smarties, and feeling as if my head was about to explode.  And by Saturday afternoon I had started developing pink-eye, and my eyes were oozing in a very unsavoury manner.

Would you have wanted me hanging out in a house full of moms and kids in that condition? Would you have even wanted me driving in that condition, with my eyes pretty much sealed shut with gunk?

Gerard was not able to go, because he had an appointment with a client at work.

Gerard’s mom, the only other possible candidate, was at a funeral.

It fell to me, in my sick, dreary state, to break the news to James that I would not be able to take him to the party. James was not angry, and he did not throw a tantrum.  He just started weeping in a very, very sad way.

Now, in addition to being as sick as a dog, I felt like a piece of crap parent. I felt so sad for my little guy that I started to weep myself.

Just in case you were wondering: crying when you have pink-eye is not a good idea.

I apologized over and over to James.  I explained to him the dual problems of putting everyone at risk of illness and not actually being fit to drive.  Later, he assured me that he understood and that he didn’t hate me.  But still.  I felt horrible for disappointing my baby.

I asked him what I could do to make it up to him, and he said he’d like a birthday party of his own.  This works for me – I have plans to throw him a party anyway – but his answer has prompted me to step it up a notch, to make a supreme effort to provide him with a special day. He wants to have his party at an indoor playground, and he wants a Lightning McQueen cake.  I’ll provide him with a Lightning McQueen cake if I have to go all the way to Radiator Springs to get it.

James misses out on a lot. It must be tough for him, being the brother of a child with autism, and the son of a Mom who gets sick at just the wrong time.

The least I can do is give him a day that he can call his own, where he will be the centre of attention.

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

17 Jan

Before I go into the story of what happened last night, I should set a bit of context.  When Gerard’s Dad died almost eight years ago, we moved in with Gerard’s Mom, who at the time did not want to be alone. We live downstairs, she lives upstairs, and each of us has own own fully equipped kitchen and whatnot, so we can live completely independently of one another and yet still be in the same house.  For a while, things were kind of tumultuous, but now they have settled down and we are all getting along famously.

My mother-in-law – or future mother-in-law, if you want to get technical about it – is making my wedding dress.  The woman is a phenomenon with a sewing machine, and she is going to create something spectacular – far better than anything I would find in a store.  I am not even intimidated by the fact that my wedding is the day after the British Royal Wedding.  My dress is going to be much prettier than Kate’s.

Last night’s drama started because my mother-in-law and I needed a mirror. A full-length mirror that we could prop up against the wall in her sewing room, that would allow me to see the dress in all its full-length glory during fittings.

Gerard and I just happen to have a spare mirror.  I think it was originally part of some long-gone piece of furniture, and for the last three years or so it’s been propping up the wall in an impractical spot in George’s room.  No-one ever uses the thing, so last night Gerard took the mirror upstairs to the sewing room (after the work-in-progress that is the dress had been securely hidden away, of course).

To say that George got upset would be like saying Donald Trump has a little bit of spare cash.

The kid exploded.  This small change to his immediate environment made him go into utter meltdown.  He was frantically running around in circles, screaming, “Put the mirror back!  Put the mirror back!”  It wasn’t angry, tantrummy screaming.  It was the kind of screaming borne of frustration and anxiety.

You see, George doesn’t cope with change.  When the slightest thing changes – a lightbulb burning out, the laundry hamper in the wrong place, the cordless telephone not in its docking station – he gets really stressed.  A few weeks ago we thought our dishwasher was leaking, so we pulled it out to take a look, and this sent George into such a flurry that it was days before he would set foot in the kitchen again.

The mirror being taken away sent him right over the top, in a way that nothing else has before.  I’m guessing it’s because the mirror was in his room; that it was his own space being violated.  It’s not that he looks in the mirror, it’s just that he’s used to it being there.  And when something he is used to is taken away, it represents a wrinkle, an interruption of stability.

At some point during this wild, frenzied activity, George ran up to his Dad sobbing, and beseechingly wailed, “Put the mirror back, please!”  He turned and looked at me, and in his eyes I saw utter desperation and fear bordering on panic.

Some people might argue that we should have stood our ground, that “giving in” to George would set a bad precedent.  They might say that the only way to get George to cope with change would be to desensitize him to it, to expose him to change and weather the storm, no matter what.

But you know something?  Sometimes, it just ain’t worth it.  Nothing is worth seeing your child in that much pain and anguish. Gerard and I agreed that we would just pay twenty bucks for a new mirror, and he went back upstairs, retrieved the mirror and put it back in its place.  When the mirror had been restored, we picked George up from where he had been cowering on the couch, and took him into his room.  He refused steadfastly to look at the wall, but he must have seen the mirror in his peripheral vision, because that heartbreaking wailing came to an end.

At that point, the stress of what he had just been through must have caught up with him.  All of a sudden, he jumped up off his bed, ran to the bathroom, and threw up.  A lot.

I wanted to cry.  My poor beautiful boy was in such a state of stress that he actually threw up?  That is awful. Do you know how stressed you have to be for it to make you physically ill?  No mother wants to think of her child going through that level of anxiety.

I gently cleaned my son’s face and dried his tears, and then I turned out the lights and hugged him as lay in his bed.  Right before he drifted off to sleep, I asked him how he felt.

“Happy,” he whispered, as he closed his eyes.

That’s all a parent really wants for their child.

(Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License)