As I talk with my friends about their winter vacation plans and travel about the blogosphere reading people's holiday posts, it is with a heavy heart. I am looking down the barrel of these next ten days with dread, not the warmth and anticipated snuggly joy that abounds elsewhere.
Life with Ethan and Jacob is not easy these days. They have no relationship with each other, we do not function as a cohesive family unit much. A moment here, a moment there, is all. Otherwise everyone is in their own individual bubble with me running back and forth between everyone like a crazy person trying to mold some cohesion where none naturally flows. And then the fighting, the constant fighting.
Two eight year-old boys, both lonely, under one roof together. One unable and one unwilling to play together. And me weeping because of this.
So these long days need to be planned and filled and turned into something other than easy and relaxed, which is what I so need right now as my body continues to twinge and whinge at me and I wait anxiously for my immanent surgery.
I need to farm Ethan out to any of his friend's families who will have him, so he can have time with friends and away from his autistic brother. And Jacob? Needs to be played with, entertained, challenged, have as much structure as possible imposed on these odd, structureless days.
And my heart so isn't into it. I love my son Jacob to pieces, but it is very hard to be his mother right now. All he wants is all my attention all the time. And an hour playing with him leaves me drained, limp, spent and turning on the TV with deep guilt. I know it is bad for his brain, but it makes him so happy and I need the break.
Autism is really hard on the holidays. On vacations. Any time that families normally come together with any sort of flow and ease, anticipating relaxed unstructured time, is, instead a time of struggle for us. I am tense and unhappy, feel put upon and resentful. And then I have to purge all this and put on the happy face, because my kids deserve my kinder, better self.
Every happy family I glimpse out in the world or on my computer, laughing, playing, just being together drives home to me how much we are not that family.
And this year especially, it weighs so heavily on me. This first year without my father, my husband's mother.
And with all my gall bladder troubles and the attendant days spent in medical mishegas these past two weeks, I have had neither time nor energy to properly plan this break. And we cannot go away, I can't risk another attack far from home.
We are set through Sunday, and then? I will be scrambling to keep my boys anywhere near happy and entertained.
Ethan needs play-dates, Jacob needs someone to engage with him and structure to his days. My husband needs to finish the sad task of clearing out his mother's apartment, the one she had lived in for his entire life.
And me? I need some time for me, to rest and to build up my reserves to be ready for my coming surgery. I also need some happy, relaxing family time. And I will be getting neither.
There will be a moment here. A moment there.
And that will have to do. It will do.
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