With my kids.
With my husband.
And especially with myself.
This Sunday morning, things went a bit awry with Jacob's just-woken-up-and-kind-of-groggy first-thing-in-the-morning pee.
"I'm wet" he called out to me from the bathroom. As I helped him strip off his soggy PJs, I answered his request for "dry pajamas, please Mom" with the rejoinder that since he was getting up anyway, it was best to get dressed for the day, that he should go to the living room and I would bring his clothes in there.
"I want pajamas" he said. Again.
But I didn't listen. I got all practical on him, reminded him it wasn't HE who did the mountains of laundry every week, and I'd be bringing him soft shorts and a T-shirt which were just like pajamas, anyway.
I stepping into the living room, clothes in hand, to find tears streaming down my sweet boy's face. "I want pajamas, Mom" he wailed, "I want to play computer in pajamas."
Now, I knew some of this was autistic rigidity. That the recent tradition of my early-rising boy getting to play undisturbed on the computer for an hour or so while the rest of us lazy sods got an extra hour of sleep on Sunday mornings was somehow tied into wearing his pajamas in his mind -- while getting dressed was probably tied to being rushed through his morning breakfast and hustled downstairs to meet the school bus.
And like a good Autism Mom, I usually try to break up rigidities before they ossify. And just as I was about to get all hard-line with my boy I looked into his eyes, saw how much this meant to him, how much he didn't understand about why I wanted him in clothes.
And I just couldn't do it.
How important was this battle, anyway?
And isn't there something thoroughly delicious about lounging around in pajamas of a Sunday morning? And something about donning clothes that says one has to get down to business and be productive?
Jake understood this. He wanted a REAL Sunday morning. In pajamas.
I hugged him.
I dried his tears with the hem of my nightgown.
I brought him a clean set of PJs.
I set aside my critical mind, the one that said that was ANOTHER pair of pajamas I'd have to wash on Tuesday.
I chose kindness.
Today was a busy day full of to-ing and fro-ing and the thousand little errands that just suck all the time out of a day.
Jake had an early morning dental appointment, so I had to bring him with me to drop Ethan off at school, then take him on the subway all the way downtown to HIS school after the dentist.
I had groceries to buy, prescriptions to drop off, prescriptions to pick up. I had to pick up some cheap bathmats to replace the ones the cat keeps peeing on. Etc. Etc. Etc.
You know the kind of day.
In the middle of of it all, I am power-walking past the fancy-shmancy make-up store bluemercury on Broadway, when I suddenly feel compelled to stop in to shpritz myself with "Beach" (yes, the same perfume & store that inspired my Coppertone story).
I am, as usual, make-up less and slightly bedraggled (though, I proudly brag, freshly showered, whoo-hoo!) It is empty inside the store, a slow Monday, so the crew eyeing me up and down very politely ask if I would like a free "freshen up" with the make-up artist.
I'm about to decline, no time, no inclination, when I take a pause. My critical mind is telling me I have 997 errands left, it is telling me that even with all the make-up in the world I will still be overweight and 51 years old. That no one but the cat and my kids is going to see me in my lovely done-up state (the effects having long worn off by the time my husband gets home late from work).
But then I shove all that aside and I think: "Why not?"
I think: "Someone wants to give me something. I get to sit and be pampered for five, maybe ten minutes. Why the hell not?"
So I say "Yes."
"Yes" to the universe.
"Yes" to me.
And, of course, it turns out not just about how a little concealer, eye shadow and lip gloss can make me look like I actually get enough sleep.
It turns out that, if you listen, everybody has a story.
I sat and chatted with the make-up artist, a lovely man named Tony, while he did his magic.
And, me being me, I'm talking about my kids. And autism.
And wouldn't you know that Tony has a young cousin on the autism spectrum, a girl. And wouldn't you know that he has a brother with cerebral palsy. So he is a special needs sibling, himself.
And we talk about group homes and caretaking and independence. And elderly parents.
Which proves you can have a real conversation anywhere, even in this chancel of artifice.
And, yes, I buy a few small things - that concealer really was MAGIC. (You want to know? T. LeClerc. Tres French. Tres chic.)
And I walk out of there feeling, well, refreshed. Glad I took a moment for me, a moment to breathe, to connect with a stranger. Ready to take on errand number 214.
And then, at the supermarket, when the guy in front of me was twenty cents shy of being able to pay for his groceries, I was happy to pull out a quarter, spot him the small change.
Finding the inner critic quieted.
Being kind to myself, and flowing that out into the world.
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