My son is obsessed with me. Take this the wrong way if you must, but sometimes he reminds me of a puppy. When I take a shower he waits outside the door. If I leave the house he watches from the window. And when I return he jumps up and down ecstatically and follows me from room to room. I wonder if he even has that sixth sense and knows when my car turns the corner of our street?
Now, I know what some of you are thinking - Big deal, my kid did that. Right, when he was two. Mine is eight. Isn't he supposed to be ashamed of my very existence by now?
And God forbid he catches me baking without him. You see, baking is his "thing" (the autism dictionary defines "thing" as anything an autistic person likes to do to the exclusion of all else). If I try to sneak in a batch without little hands taking over he barrels into the room like a boy betrayed, as if he caught me cheating. Yes folks, in our house attempts to bake without him are generally referred to as cheating on him. If you're going to cheat, we say, make sure it is after he goes to bed....and be certain he's asleep because if he smells those muffins in the oven its over.
Sure, I affect exasperation but deep down I love this. While some of you lament that your five year old now has her own life I get to keep my baby longer. A lot longer.
It's fun. Until it isn't.
By golly, that boy even wants mommy when his nervous system gets overloaded beyond what most of us could even bear. Taking my hand he says, "mommy's going down the stairs" (the apraxia dictionary defines downstairs as upstairs). Then he kicks his arms and legs into the bed and makes weeeeing sounds. I don't have to say much, just watch him kick and "weeeeeee" overwhelm from his hyper-sensitive nerve endings - and smile at him. There has to be the smile. He wants a witness; that is all. Perhaps reassuring smiles from momma mirror unconditional acceptance, and convey that all is ultimately well, despite the neurological chaos that rages inside him.
I like being his witness. I like that he wants me to be his witness. However, if I'm required to lie on a bed long enough during the day I will fall asleep. And the only thing I want to witness at that point is my dreams.
At first he does usual kid things to rouse my attention: sits on me, pokes my eye, laughs directly into my ear. Nothing. If I pretend to be asleep, like I really just was a second ago, maybe he'll give up. Perhaps he'll even fall asleep eventually. Now that would be nice!
And then I hear it, "hmmmnnnlll, hmmmnnll, hmmmmnll". Oh my God he's whimpering. Like a dog! That's why we don't have a dog. I can't stand the whinning!
OK, if I ignore this, surely he'll quit. It's a lot of work to whine like that.
"hmmmmnnlll, hmmmnnnllll, hmmmnnnll".
I guess he thinks I didn't hear him the fifth time.
Then mommy guilt, that serpent, slithers her way around my heart, wrapping it in knots. "Well, well, well", Sister Serpent says, "How short is thy memory. You don't know your blessings when they stare you in the face. Why not so long ago you lamented how autism stole your baby. You cried that he wouldn't let you into his world and now all he wants is to be in yours. Tsk, tsk. And so what if this is all consuming. What did you think you were signing up for when you became a mother, auntie duty? Your friend Kathryn has four children and she doesn't complain. And why your own mother raised six, then took in foster children....."
I won't win this. I concede and mommy guilt relaxes her grip on my heart. Turning to my son, with eyes still closed and heart wide-open, I say, "what is it my baby?".
Who ever said guilt serves no purpose?
This was originally posted on my former blog two years ago. It is the only post I've ever written that wrote itself. At almost ten, he mostly weeeeeees! by himself now but occasionally still needs his witness, thank goodness.