I cried the whole way home.
Was there a major meltdown? No.
Did anyone get hurt? No.
Did anyone get lost? No.
Was it a failure? No.
A friend bravely invited us to go bowling with him and his two girls. I knew the kids would have a lot of fun. Emerson had just visited the same bowling alley weeks before on a Special Olympics trip so I knew he would be super excited to go back. Plus I had been well aware for weeks now that we needed to hop out of our safe fish bowl that is our home and get out more.
The last 9 months have been hard. Really hard. Separation, divorce, and the realization that Emerson is not the only child in the family on the spectrum. Finnigin joins him with increasing uncanniness. With him it seemed to be more mild than his big brother but as time passes I keep seeing, it's not so much less severe. It is just a different brand. Different sensory issues. Different struggles, different strengths, but just as much hard work to help him blossom.
We piled in the car and were on our way. As we pulled into the parking lot, Emerson's face lit up with recognition. We went in, selected the correct sized shoes and made our way to lane 3 where our friends were waiting. The lanes with bumpers were full so it would be a lot of gutter balls. I was okay with that. My expectations were low and not at all ambitious. As long as they had a reasonably good time and we gave it a shot, I'd be happy, I told myself.
Okay any Autism parent knows when you go somewhere new or busy,(or pretty much leave the house) you turn your eagle eyes on and watch for the first sign of bolting or general trouble. You perk your ears up to sounds and get more aware of your environment so you can anticipate potential problem stimuli or sticky situations.
You are on high alert.
Scrambling from one kid to the next. "Be careful. Bowling balls are heavy...Don't get your fingers pinched...Finny the ball goes in the lane...Thats for bowling balls not your head... Let me help you... Don't touch the floor it's yucky...I know that ball is pretty but it belongs to someone else... Stay with the group... It's your turn... Where did Emmy go? *Panic* Come back and STAY with the group!"
"Mommy! I got 9 pins!!" Eight year old Meadow shouts.
I feel a wave a guilt that my attention is so spread thin that I don't have much left to give her a fair share. At the same time I feel myself break out in a sweat from the exertion of wrangling two very determined boys.
"WAY TO GO MEADOW!!" I shout as I throw 30lb Finnigin over my shoulder so he can't run away again.
I know that she is having a blast helping the younger girls and her brothers but I still wish it was easier on her I think for a second, until my attention is pulled straight back to the boys.
Sometimes life reminds us that we aren't as good as we think we are.
Emerson was diagnosed right after he turned 2 years old, almost 5 years ago. I've learned a lot in those five years. His brother Finnigin is just about the same age as Emmy was and we have known for a year that a diagnosis for him as well is coming. He is already up to 3 separate therapies a week.
It wasn't until bowling that it hit me, like a ton of bricks.
I have to start over.
And not just start over, but start again. And it's still a question mark. For both of them.
In my face that I have Emerson who is doing so good but really is still very hands on, and Finnigin who is his own little enigma that needs my full attention to figure out. The walk down memory lane with one while trying to help the other stay on track. Its all about staying on track, keeping them contained, not falling behind, taking the road less traveled by most parents and trying to not stumble as we aim for a similar destination that we may never reach. Celebrating every step forward.
Realizing I'm doing it solo from now on.
So I cried.
And that's okay.