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Our Kind of Mother’s Day

May 15, 2012

Saturday was tough. It’s not like it was the worst day ever, but it was one of those days when it seemed like each of my children’s individual needs boiled over. Add to that, it was Mother’s Day weekend, which to be quite honest, I loathe. There’s nothing like society’s pressure to feel appreciated and rested to make your regular chaotic weekend simply run amuck and then feel so much worse than it is. We now make a point of not celebrating on actual Mother’s Day. Church is too crowded. Restaurants are too crowded. Too much pressure. So Saturday was our Mother’s Day:

Troy was antsy to do something – anything, physical and structured. He wanted desperately for us to drive him the 45 minutes out to where we plan on moving so that we could take a hike by the waterfall. Meanwhile, his sister Joyce was in her total sensory avoidance mood. She wanted nothing but to stay home in the dark living room and play her xbox games. And poor Mary, exhausted from another week of therapy in combination with this cold that she is still trying to get over, wanted nothing more than to sleep and then sit quietly in her crib looking at her books.

My husband and I had (stupidly) planned on a calm morning of drinking coffee in bed while we thought the kids would just play. Ok, maybe we haven’t really come to the acceptance part of the reality that we have three kids on the spectrum. Lazy Saturday mornings just don’t exist anymore!

Fast forward through multiple meltdowns, arguments, time outs, and wrangling children and bicycles into the minivan. We took the kids to the park so Joyce and Troy could ride bikes together and Mary could try out the new tricycle I picked up for her last night. It’s one of those push from behind tricycles with the handles for the parents, so she could start to get the idea of what a bike does. Pretty cool.

After the park (which actually went fairly well) we decided to attempt dinner out, since tomorrow is Mother’s Day. But since tomorrow is Mother’s Day, we are well aware that the restaurants will be packed- a big no-no for us. So we settled on an Indian restaurant that we have grown quite fond of. It is quiet and welcoming, and the food there is excellent. Since we could clearly see that Troy was going to be the trouble maker most excitable at dinner, we thought it best to go for the flavorful spice of curry that usually seems to quiet him by giving him all that sensory input he craves. Mary also loves the flavors of Indian food, and this particular place is quiet enough and simply decorated so that she is never overwhelmed there, as she sometimes is in other restaurants.

This theory seemed to be holding, except for Joyce. I’m not enough of an autism expert to explain this, but it seems that, with my kids anyway, that when they hit the age of 4 or 5, their autism becomes quite a bit more visible (not sure if that’s the right word, but more obvious to us, anyway).

Joyce has been retreating more and more from most sensory experiences, except motion – she still loves to swing, rock, jump, flap, bounce, etc., but lately she has become vastly more sensitive to loud noises (poor kid lives with a wildman big brother and a hearing impaired little sister!), textures, smells and flavors.

So we ordered some of the most plain food we could find, samosas, dosas, lentil pancakes, naan, a mango lassi. She wanted none of it. She even gagged on what we got her to try- the naan, which is really just plain bread. She sat quietly coloring pictures and playing on her IPod while the rest of us happily ate. I had already promised her a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal when we got home (her favorite treat). I thought of ordering some of the Indian deserts she has enjoyed in the past, but I could tell from looking at her that she would pass that up as well. We were just getting ready to give up, when the kind waiter suddenly appeared with a beautiful, complimentary slice of chocolate cake and placed it right in front of my Joyce! I’ve never seen a smile so big. I’ve never seen a piece of cake disappear so fast! And I’m pretty sure chocolate cake was not an option on the menu. And so we all left the restaurant together, with full bellies and smiles – which is no small task for our crew!

So we celebrated Mother’s Day. It wasn’t smooth. It wasn’t Hallmark. It wasn’t even very relaxing. But it was perfect.

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