No Small Thing

This is not a place where I want to vent.  This is not a place to write about the hard moments, the power struggles, the meltdowns, and the frustrations that come as a result of parenting an autistic child.  It’s not about that.  I don’t ever want to feel like anything I’ve written is something that would embarrass Jake or use his autism as fodder to make me sound like a better parent.  I don’t want it to be a place where I exploit his innocence, struggles, or autism to gain some sort of kick or self-righteous feeling.

I try to censor myself and I have my husband proofread all of my blog entries before I post them.  The internet is everlasting, after all.

That being said, there are some things that I feel like I can share.

Jake does better in school when I am involved.  I have been going to his class to read with a small group (always including Jake) twice a week since late September.  His teacher and I have both noticed that he is more relaxed, less anxious, and has better days overall when I stop in.  I love coming to his class.  I love seeing him in his desk, getting a hug and a kiss in the middle of my day, and knowing that I am helping him feel better and have a more successful day.

Jake does better with field trips when I participate.  Our school does not have access to a school bus, so parents help drive students for field trips, and I have gone on several this year.  While field trips are fun, exciting, and awesome, Jake also finds them overwhelming, unfamiliar and unpredictable.  If I am there with him, I can literally hold his hand.  I am reassuring, comfortable, and familiar.  I can talk him through what to expect and provide security and safety when things are unexpected.  I don’t feel like I am coddling him, overprotecting him, or hovering, even though it could be seen that way.  I am praying that my investment into his security and confidence now will pay off later in life.

Jake has not had many fevers at all since school started in September.  I believe, strongly, that a large part of the reason is that I am so focused on his needs this year.  I am keeping him home for afternoons when I see he is getting worn out.  I am putting more time into preventing meltdowns and really stressful situations for him.  I feel like I am working on the preventative rather than reactive side of things this year.

This year Jake has expressed that he wants to go to the mall and see Santa, that he wants to tell him what he wants for Christmas and he wants a picture taken.  I am so amazed.  He is six years old.  For six Christmases, I have tried to get him to go and to get a picture.  There was a commercial last year for Canadian Tire where a child used his iPad to FaceTime Santa because getting to the mall was so hard and created so much stress.  I cried several times when I saw the commercial.  It was so beautiful, so lovely, and I could so relate.  I gave up and didn’t even attempt it last year.

So this year, I am going to pull him out of school early one afternoon, to attempt to go at a quiet time in the mall.  I am going to practice with him, show him videos of other kids going to see Santa.  I am going to be patient with him, watch at the mall to see some other kids go first.  Then, if he is okay, we will get in line.  We will do it, if he wants to. And if he doesn’t end up getting the picture and telling him what he wants, we are going to bring along the list and an envelope and mail it.  No stress.  No pressure.

Except that maintaining this level of anticipation of possible disaster is hard.  Always looking for possible meltdowns, always checking to make sure he is healthy, not too tired, always comparing what I would like to do today with what Jake needs me to do is a sacrifice.  It’s not too hard.  I’m not wishing for anything different.  But it is a sacrifice.

I cannot plan an entire week in advance because if Jake is overloaded, plans get canceled.  In our family, someone is sick or burned out or there is a crisis every two weeks.  I cannot plan to do things after school if, in two days, we will have other plans.  That is too much for us.  I cannot take Aiden to a play date on a day that I have promised Jake I will be in his class to read.  That would throw off his expectations and the pattern we have built, creating stress and anxiety for him, leading to meltdowns at school and after school, and more stress on me.

I am tired.  I am not ironing shirts for my husband to wear.  I am not finding a fun place for our Elf on the Shelf.  I am procrastinating, and I will give up sleep in order to get those things done as well.  I give up sleep, I give up time with Aiden and Penny.  I give up time with my husband, and I give up time for myself, and then I try to get caught up and give each of us as much meaningful love as I have left.  We all sacrifice.  It’s hard to read that and hear the way it sounds.  I don’t mean that we are suffering or that it is terrible.  It is a choice that I am making, consciously, and I believe it is a good choice.  I am giving what I believe I need to, and I can see that, as a result, we are all calmer and happier, and things are going well.

This is just a small list of some of the trade offs that we are making daily.  There are so many things.  I cook food that Jake will eat, I make up songs at night describing the events of the Star Wars original trilogy so that he will not be surprised when he watches them.  I am tired, but he is happy, and that makes me happy.  Right now we are all feeling exhausted and are looking forward to the Christmas break.  I am looking forward to it with joyful anticipation, and also the knowledge that spending more time with all five of us in our small house will be extra noisy, I will not get anything accomplished, and I will have few breaks to rest alone.

I guess it’s just never what I would have thought, and I don’t know if or when that will change.  I am getting into a good groove, and I am realizing how much love, effort, and work I need to put into Jake.  It is no small thing but it is making a huge difference.

 A Series of Updates

  1. Jake now eats his vitamins. The Star Wars games didn’t work.  I think they were too complicated.  We found a system, though, where he shows me “his moves” for a minute, powers himself up, so to speak, and then downs the vitamins.  Awesome!  It has worked consistently for about 12 days now and I feel like we have created a new routine that works.
  2. I am trying to use the words autism and autistic more in front of Jake, working them into conversation within earshot. Baby steps.
  3. The IEP meeting was great, and afterwards I felt much relief. He is really only struggling with social issues at school right now.  We discussed enrichment for him.  He really is such a neat kid.  They spoke so positively about him.  He’s sweet, polite, and kind.  He is respectful.  He is not defiant or interested in causing trouble.  He doesn’t disrupt his classmates.  The one day that he came close to a meltdown at school, his EA correctly realized that he was feeling overly anxious and provided him a chance to calm down and reset, avoiding a potentially bad situation.  Apparently the other students all get along with him and like him.

I am going to work at having some more social opportunities for him, playdates and stuff.  I don’t want to overload any of us, though.

  1. We have also started Tae Kwon Do with both Aiden and Jake, and that adds more stuff to our routine too. It was really hard to get Jake into it.  His dad did Judo as a teen, and won several medals that the boys love playing with.  His cousin also does Judo, so naturally Jake thought that Judo was the only martial art that is acceptable.  Unfortunately, where we live there is no Judo offered, Tae Kwon Do is our only option.

We watched some videos on YouTube of kids practicing and Aiden was sold.  He was so excited he could hardly stand it.  The first class he was beaming the entire time.  Jake, however, refused to participate, and we agreed that he could observe and hoped that he would come around.  The benefits were so obvious.  There were much older kids, teenagers, mentoring the beginners.  The relationship possibilities thrilled me.  There was a great focus on practice and support.  There was a lot of structure and repetition.  There were clear goals and rewards in place.  I just felt like it was exactly the extra-curricular activity for us.

Jake was still not sold.

And so we turned to our standby for such situations.  Bribery.

We agreed that if both boys participate in 35 Tae Kwon Do classes, we will buy them a big Lego Star Wars set.

Well, I had barely whispered the idea and Jake was all of a sudden completely turned around and ready to go.  He had to wait three days before he could finally participate.  Oh!  He’s so funny.

And so, they both went.  They did great.  They learned lots, and Jake was already correcting Aiden on Tae Kwon Do etiquette.  They came home and put shiny stickers on their new 5×7 sticker grids that we printed to chart their progress.

I am thrilled.

  1. Jake has missed parts or all of eight days of school due to fevers. I am jumping into the gluten free/casein free diet in hope of making a difference with this and I have no other ideas.  We are working as a family to try to slow down and make time for him to relax and play.  I have booked an appointment with his new pediatrician to discuss it but it isn’t until November.  All in all I feel quite frustrated and helpless with the fevers.  They are so hard on him.     
  2. The other change around here is that all of a sudden, Jake is reading.

At the Meet the Teacher night, his teacher suggested that if we read with our kids for eight minutes a day, four days a week, they could earn a reward.  I am motivated by rewards just like my munchkins, and so I did not want Jake to miss out.  I pulled out the reader he brought home, and like nobody’s business, he read it!

The next day I tried him on something less familiar, digging out Green Eggs and Ham.  Sure enough, he read that too!  The first half, anyways.  Tonight he read Go Dog Go to his dad.  I am incredibly impressed.  That teacher, she is teaching him to read!  He is getting it and is so proud.  He was just grinning so adorably tonight.  I’ve heard that there is a light bulb that goes on when kids learn to read.  I had no idea how amazing it is to watch.

It’s so good. I am so proud.  There is so much evidence of God’s love here and we are so blessed.

Fever!

Well.  The last six weeks have been insanity here.  It is the end of the school year.  My husband is a teacher at the local high school, and we are used to June craziness.  It’s always hard.  This year, I wasn’t teaching, but Jake was finishing kindergarten.  We had four field trips, (which I volunteered to help with, a dream come true!) class parties, and of course, sick kids.

Jake gets a fever when he is stressed.  Or overtired.  It is miserable and predicable.  My husband, mother and I have all caught the pattern.  He missed 26 days of school this year.  Of those, 1 was for a family trip, 7 were medical appointments or fun days off, and the rest were due to the fevers.  That is a lot of fevers.

They almost always come along on a Friday.  That brings the lovely addition of ruining any fun plans we had for the weekend.  Jake gets miserable, lethargic, whiney, and very snuggly.  The snuggles and sweet lovey conversations are the best part.  But I hate seeing him so sick, with no other symptoms.  He loses his appetite and we go through bottles of Tylenol and Advil.  We have had so many fevers this year that I have started keeping a ‘fever journal’ to show the pediatrician when we see her next.

I wonder about Celiac disease, and I am looking into the gluten free/casein free diet.  I picked up a recipe book from the library yesterday, and it said this in the introduction:

“A short time later, Eric started to respond to the diet… Eric’s mysterious fevers disappeared.” (The Autism Cookbook: 101 Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Recipes by Susan K. Delaine and Peter J. Bauth)

Of course, I have Googled ‘autism and fever,’ and I did learn some interesting things.  There is a medically documented correlation between fever and improvement of autistic symptoms.  There are enough parents who have noticed their autistic kids improve when they have a fever that it has been studied, documented, and put through scientific and statistical analysis.

A study discussed in Time magazine found the following:

The brain region that drew the attention of the authors is known as the locus coeruleus, a small knot of neurons located in the brain stem. Not a lot of high-order processing goes on so deep in the brain’s basement, but the locus coeruleus does govern the release of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, which is critical in triggering arousal or alarm, as in the famed fight-or-flight response. Arousal also plays a role in our ability to pay attention — you can’t deal with the lion trying to eat you, after all, if you don’t focus on it first. And attention, in turn, plays a critical role in such complex functions as responding to environmental cues and smoothly switching your concentration from one task to another. Those are abilities kids with autism lack.

Certainly, many other parts of the brain govern concentration and attention, but the locus coeruleus does one other thing too: it regulates fever.

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1889436,00.html

While this is utterly fascinating to me, it does nothing to help me ease Jake’s fevers, or to prevent them.  I can see a connection to the noradrenaline and being over tired or stressed.  Perhaps the locus coeruleus is having trouble maintaining the high octane life and shuts down, resulting in a lack of noradrenaline and also, a fever.  That’s my personal hypothesis, however.

Aside from drugs, it seems the only thing I can do is to manage Jake’s stress levels better.  I will have to work harder to keep him relaxed, and work with him to learn some strategies he will actually be willing to use to lower his feelings of panic.  And I guess I will have to look into the diet with more conviction as well.

Projecting My Ideas of Fun

I struggle with what to post on this blog. Daily, there are so many things that I could tell you, that I would really love to write about. My husband recently referred to it as “blog fodder.” I think that’s hilarious. But really, I struggle. The thing is, this is public. I want to share our stories, encourage and educate, but the reality of it is, I don’t want to embarrass my kids. One day they might read this, and I would hate for them to think that I was sharing things about them with the world that they would really rather I did not. It’s a tough one for me.

I want to be open, and they are the most important people in my world, so I need to be able to be open with them. At times I feel like I might be censoring some of our harder moments in an effort to protect them. I am okay with that.

However, it really is hard sometimes. I think this is something that is worth sharing, because when they grow up and have kids of their own, I want them to know that I get it. I love them and support them no matter what, and parenting is hard. There is so much to learn. I feel like I am self-reflecting a lot lately.

Recently I have tried to do things I thought were simple and fun, only to have Jake fall apart. My attempts to provide easy happy activities have turned disastrous. We planned to go to a nearby provincial park and have a fire, roast some hot dogs, and play outside for dinner. I wanted to be away— from people, from my house and our mess, and just relax and enjoy my kids. We have done this so many times, it felt like a guarantee. Just go out, relax, have some fun.

Well, we had not done it with three kids before. And we had not done it yet this spring. But I wasn’t worried. Not at all. Jake was tired, but we went to church. It went well. I had to pick up some groceries and my husband had marking to do, and so the boys went to their grandparents’ house for an hour while Penny napped. The plan was beautiful. I picked them up after shopping and we went home to load up and head out.

I don’t have any idea what went wrong first. Jake didn’t want to play in the sand. He didn’t want to play in the water. He was hungry. We toughed it out another fifteen minutes, no, ten, no, five, then headed up to make our fire. I forgot the boys’ water bottles. There was lemon water but that tasted funny.  There were cans of carbonated water but that was weird. There was Penny’s water, and so Jake finally settled on that. After tears. Many tears. Then the fire was too smoky. Then the hot dogs weren’t right.  Then he was tired and ready to go home. We toughed it out again, trying to regain some feeling of fun, of relaxation, when he was so wound and not fun. Argh! Miserable.

We finally left, and made it home for a pretty early bedtime. It wasn’t all bad. Penny loved it. Aiden loved the sand and the lake and was sulky after we left that part. I promised him I’d take him back.  Being in the trees and the air was wonderful.

I just didn’t want to skip doing something that we all loved just because Jake was falling apart. Partially because this was something he loved so much last summer, I really missed that. But the whole day left me drained and emotional. I can see now that there was too much going on in one day. If I want to plan a beach picnic, that needs to be the only real event of the day.

May 2015 738

Another night I wanted to plant the seedlings in the garden. The boys have been caring for these little plants and helped me plant the seeds. I wanted them to be a part of the next stage. However, Jake was not really up for it. Everything was bothering him. The sun, the dirt, the brother who was in his way.

Again, there were tears and whining.

Eventually he was yelling, “I am tired! You are not listening to me!”

And so we cut and ran. We went inside, and got ready and put the boys to bed. I felt like it was the only thing to do. I finished the planting myself and tried to not be disappointed.  I want to listen to him. I want him to know that I am trying. It’s so hard, when I feel like saying, just have fun! But it isn’t fun. Not for him, and therefore, not for me. Of course, we were up later in the night with a fever and that totally explains it all. He wasn’t feeling well. I’m sad for him. I’m sad for all of us! This isn’t easy!

Last year, a mom of an autistic student of mine was describing her struggles when taking her son to Disney Land. She wanted him to go on rides with her, so that he wasn’t missing out on any of the fun.  Some of those rides he adamantly refused, and she was reflecting on this with me. She said that it wasn’t right that she was trying to project her idea of fun onto her son, that he needed to enjoy what she enjoyed. It makes so much sense to me. Her son had more fun watching parades, shopping, and on some of the easier rides.

And yet, I just want to enjoy these things together. I don’t want to stress him out, I just need to figure out how to make sure that I am listening, prepping, and, I guess, doing more to make situations work for Jake.

Some days I just don’t have it

Some days I just don’t have it.  The patience.  The understanding.  The hope.  The optimism.

Some days, like today, I just barely survive.

It is the fourth day he has stayed home from school.  And gosh, I love that kid.  But that is a lot of time for the two of us to spend together.

He is feeling better.  I am sympathetic when he’s ill.  I really am.

But he is feeling better.  I am not doing well, however.

He keeps crying.  Over every little thing.  He keeps hitting and scratching me.  Every time I say something that makes him mad.  Which, it seems, is all the time.

I am so tired of it.

I am trying to teach Aiden it’s not okay to hit.

I am trying not to hit him myself.

I can do it.  But there are costs.  Like my mental state.  I am a mess.  I am angry.  Frustrated.  Furious.  Sad.  Empty.  I want to yell and scream and break things.  I have been doing that.  I have been crying and praying prayers of desperation.  Good God, help me!  I am the adult here.  How on earth did this happen?

Again and again I am so thankful for his Dad.  For his Oma.  For my Jesus.  I don’t know what would happen if I didn’t have them.  Instead of yelling at him any more I am here, writing this.  A better idea.

I can hear the patience in his dad’s voice.  I can hear it running thin.  I am not alone.  It will hold up.  We will hold up.

Eye Contact

Jake is sick.  With a fever.  He is whiny, sad, tired, and sick.  Of course, he wants his Mom.  I am spending more time than usual snuggling, calming, soothing, holding, whispering, and reassuring.  And for once, I am appreciating it more.  We are getting closer than we usually do, he and I.  I am being more patient, and he is asking for me more.

This afternoon he asked me to lie on the couch with him and snuggle in close.  Our faces were so close.  I counted his new freckles.  I stroked his unruly hair.  I whispered to him that I love him.  And I looked into his eyes.

He has the most amazing eyes.  They are brownish greenish with flecks of gold that seem like they are constantly rippling like a pebble in a lake.  I gazed into them and was lost, lost in love and emotion.  Truly, I could see how deeply he loves me, how intensely he needs me.

What makes a moment like this so special is its rarity.  Jake’s autism results in eye contact being difficult for him.  He actually looks into my eyes quite often, but only for brief glances.  He looks into his Dad’s eyes, and into a few special extended family members’, but that is about it.  At school, lack of eye contact is something I hear about a lot.

This isn’t usual.  The Indiana Resource Centre for Autism describes how feeling comfortable and confident in a situation increases many individuals with autism’s ability to make eye contact.  In situations where there are too many stimuli or there is anxiety, it is much harder to make eye contact.  I have also heard that the connection between people when they make eye contact is too intimate for many people with autism.  It feels uncomfortable, like being naked or exposed.  In a moment like the one I had with Jake, it certainly felt intimate to me.  We were connected and I felt deeply in love with my baby.

There is a big push to teach autistic people to make eye contact.  This is because our eyes convey so much of our social language.  People communicate with their eyes, and if you are missing that, you are missing out on a large part of a conversation.  There is also the idea that we give eye contact to people when we are listening or paying attention to them.  Therefore at school, teachers look out to make sure the students are looking back when instructing.  It is this eye contact that lets the teacher know that the students are paying attention and learning the lesson.  This is where the phrase, “Look at me,” is heard the most.  Parents and caregivers also do this a lot.  I know we do it here.  It’s the root of the “whole body listening” concept.  If you are listening and paying attention, you are turned to face the speaker, you are not distracted by other things, and you are looking at them.

However, the question is, is making eye contact necessary for paying attention?

What if it is too intense?

What if it simply doesn’t work for a person?

A number of “higher functioning” folks who have autism have described difficulties with making eye contact. One of the more humorous explanations was shared over lunch with a brilliant, well- educated, 45-year-old man who has Asperger’s Syndrome. With a mixture of cynicism, good humor and pleading for understanding, he discussed his difficulty with making eye contact, but even more to the point, with expectations that he “read” and respond to the subtle socioemotional messages conveyed via the eyes. In summarizing his message, he said, “If you insist that I make eye contact with you, when I’m finished I’ll be able to tell you how many millimeters your pupils changed while I looked into your eyes.

http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/?pageId=472#sthash.bczHRBhN.dpuf

I love this story.  It is absolutely what I imagine Jake goes through.  I am coming around to the idea that I do not actually want to pressure Jake to make eye contact if it is uncomfortable, too intimate, and does not actually accomplish any additional communication with him.  The Daily Beast wrote:

To a neurodiversity proponent, autism is a social problem. That is not to say that autism is fundamentally a problem with social skills; rather, it is a problem with society’s lack of tolerance for the range of thought patterns and behaviors that characterizes autism. A neurodiversity advocate might say, for example, that autistic people should not be forced to learn how to bring themselves to make eye contact… The rest of us could learn to understand that lack of eye contact is not necessarily rude or weird but is part of the range of acceptable behavior. More than that: We could value the unique insights the autistic mind has to offer.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/25/they-don-t-want-an-autism-cure.html?via=desktop&source=facebook

Wow.  This is where I am coming to.  I want to find an alternate route to communicate with Jake, for those times when he can’t look into my eyes, or into his teachers.  There needs to be another way for him to show that he is listening, perhaps by turning his body, or offering a simple “Got it.”

As well, I want to help create a world where eye contact is appreciated, and yet, not required for social interaction.  I want Jake to be able to have friendships with his peers and work with his teachers and have them understand that he just can’t offer that all the time.  I think this is so important, and so easily done.  I would hate to have people demand that I feel exposed all the time.  All it takes is some education and understanding.

The World is Too Intense

I have found a few sources that discuss how the sensory disorders that are so often associated with autism are inseparable from the biology in the brain and the diversity of autistics.  Then I found this website and it describes a theory of autism that explains both the sensory disorders, and the diversity, so nicely.  It makes total sense to me, and I find it remarkable.

The Intense World Theory states that autism is the consequence of a supercharged brain that makes the world painfully intense and that the symptoms are largely because autistics are forced to develop strategies to actively avoid the intensity and pain. Autistics see, hear, feel, think, and remember too much, too deep, and process information too completely. The theory predicts that the autistic child is retreating into a controllable and predictable bubble to protect themselves from the intensity and pain.… It is a unifying theory because it takes into account and explains the many different results and interpretations from a spectrum of studies on autism.

http://wrongplanet.net/interview-henry-and-kamila-markram-about-the-intense-world-theory-for-autism/

What this quotation describes is exactly what I have noticed in Jake.  He reacts when he is overstimulated.  I can see how different people would find different ways to cope, and this would account for all of the different kinds of autism we see.

I read about how many autistic people can’t see the forest for the trees.  They are often so focused on details that they can’t see the big picture.  Often this can be quite literal, as in not being able to cope in a group of people because they are processing each individual person and thing in the room so completely.

Today, Jake couldn’t go to school.  He was just an emotional, overloaded, sobbing mess.  I have no idea what was wrong.  There was no fever, no runny nose, nothing obvious.  I eventually gave him some ibuprofen hoping that if something was hurting him, it would ease.  And ease it did.  The change was dramatic.

One minute he was gripping me and screaming that he wanted to go to the library RIGHT NOW to get a Lego Star Wars book, and the next he was calmly showing Penny his collection of cars.  It was about 20 minutes after the medicine was given.  Something was really bothering him.  I may never know what.  I hope that as he gets older he will be able to tell me so I can help him.  It could be anything-a smell, lights, sounds, a headache?  I can only speculate.  Kids with autism often find the smell of cleaning solutions to be too much to handle.  I have noticed that Jake has torn off his socks his whole life.  I think that the elastic tightness on his feet bothers him.  I ran through what he ate the night before, wondering if there was something different or particularly agitating.  I came up with nothing.

He was reacting to a pain, though, and it was coming out in tears, punches, pinches, and yelling, this morning.  I guess I am becoming more understanding.

I did have to leave the room once, to calm myself and remind myself that this is what was going on.  It isn’t easy to stay in the moment and keep my knowledge in front of my emotions.  I sure wanted to yell at him, give him a time-out, and send his weeping butt to school so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.  I’m glad I didn’t though.

We ended up having a great day.  He stayed home all day.  We played Lego.  We watched TV, we played on the iPod.  I made a lunch I knew he’d like, and sure enough he ate joyfully.  By the time my husband came home from work the house was calm and happy, and I actually went out for coffee with a friend.  I came home to find the three kids all playing peacefully and dinner was started.  I may never know what it was this morning.

Overall, knowing that the world is sometimes just too much to bear is very helpful for me.  It gives perspective and understanding.  From there I can try to find appropriate consequences for the violence and work on being patient with the tears.

Dear Mom of a sick baby

A detour from my own reflections, one of my dearest friends is caring for her first and he is sick.  It brought back so many memories for me and inspired this post.

Dear Mom of a sick baby.

It’s his first cold.  You are exhausted.  I know.  I know you are up all night just after you finally thought maybe you would start to sleep better and feel better.  You thought you knew the meaning of tired.  You thought you knew the meaning of laundry.  And now he’s sick.

It’s okay.

You are doing a great job.

You are the best mom in the world.

Because when he cries, you are there.  When he tries to nurse but can’t breathe and pulls off and hurts you and then cries again because he’s hungry, you are there.  You are loving, you are warm, you are safe.

You are teaching that sweet baby that you will always be there.  That you will always calm him down.  That you will always hold him when he’s scared.  That no matter what the mess looks like or smells like, you will clean him up.  That you are his safe place.

And when he grows, and he gets hurt, he will call for you.  When he is teased, he will know you are safe.  When he gets scared from a nightmare, he will know you are there and everything will be alright.  You are teaching him love.

You are amazing.

I know there are washcloths and tissues and you don’t know which are yours and which are his, which are from sneezing and which are from the moment you lost your cool and just sat and sobbed with exhaustion.

I know your back hurts and your arms hurt and your legs hurt and your feet hurt because you have to carry him all day.  Don’t put him down, or he will cry and be scared again.  I know he won’t go to anyone else.  I know he only slept for one 15 minute nap and is overtired.

You thought your house was messy but tomorrow you would tidy.  You thought you could get the garbage out in the morning.  But now you are holding a sick baby and there is nothing you can do.  Nothing you can accomplish.  Nothing but hold him.  Clean him, feed him, rock him, and pray.

I know you are incredible.  You are his mom.  You want to call your mom and cry and beg her to come and rescue you because you think you can’t do this.  That’s because that is what moms do.  You are doing it.  You are inspiring me.

It’s okay.