I hear him. I can hear him limping around his room. I can hear him cough. I can hear him randomly shouting words—words he once had, words that mean nothing now.
I check his bedroom camera. I zoom in to see if he can wait the five minutes I need to coax my body into waking up. My back is stiff and sore. My neck creaks.
I am 36, so I am pretty sure I am too young to be feeling so stiff and sore in the morning.
My mind tells my body to get up.
My body refuses.
Today is already one of those days.
The days when I just can’t. The days when it takes so much to stop myself from breaking. I know these days well; I have them often.
I know today will be a day that I will break; a day that I will spend counting down the hours until bedtime.
It’s a horrible feeling. It’s a feeling wrapped in heavy guilt.
My child is terminally ill and I have days when I just can’t do it.
Society tells me to relish every minute with my son, for I know what his future holds. I tell myself the same, but some days it’s hard. It’s hard to take the slaps, punches, pinches and kicks, and still find something to be grateful for.
I know I will feel a huge amount of guilt over feeling this way, especially when I can’t hear him or see him or hold him anymore. I remind myself of this and that is the reason I get up: Guilt is powerful.
Just managing to get by isn’t easy or something any parent wants to do when it comes to their kids. But on the days that I break, it’s all I can do. I push the guilt away and remind myself that I am human.
I get up. I go into his room and I clean him and everything else that requires cleaning. He’s happy to see me, but not for long. He doesn’t like to be cleaned, and the wipes, the cream, are all too alien to him despite us having used them for years now.
I get it done and we begin our day.
He is out of routine.
He expects a bus to come get him, but I know that bus isn’t coming for another three weeks. He doesn’t know or understand this.
I watch the clock as I feed him and medicate him.
He lashes out as I clean his peg site. I don’t dodge the slap in time, which means I have a fresh scrape on my face. More explaining to do when I meet friends or family, and even strangers some days.
Once, a woman very kindly handed me a card when my husband wasn’t looking. It was for an abused women’s home. She presumed my husband was behind my black eye and scraped face. My husband is a big man who is used to getting the evil eye from random strangers when my face cannot be hidden behind makeup.
Some days I break.
I want to run away and not come back. I don’t want to do all the caring. I want to stay in bed and pretend my life is just like yours.
People tell me that at least I don’t have the future worry of what will happen to Ethan once I am gone. They are right—I don’t have that worry.
I worry about what will happen to us when my son is no longer here. How will that feel? Will I be able to look at myself in the mirror then, knowing that there were days when I wanted to run away from everything, including him?
For me, autism is very different from the shows we see on TV. For me, disabilities are very different from the shows we see on TV.
Our life with Autism is violent.
Our life with disability is heartbreakingly painful, as we watch our son lose each and every skill he ever had.
So, yes, I have days when I break. Days when the world I live in is too much for me. Days when I want to run. Days when I wish for a different life and days when I am angry at the life I have.
Am I ungrateful? I don’t know.
Are there worse situations out there? I am sure there are, but that doesn’t make my situation any easier.
I think society puts us parents on a pedestal by saying things like “I couldn’t do it” or “I don’t know how you do it.” The truth of it is, as well-intentioned as those types of comments are, they often make me personally feel like I am not doing it. Because there are days when I break, days when I just can’t, and days when the only thing that gets me up is guilt.
I think that the only way parents like me can change this view is to be honest, be open, and admit there are days when we just break.
And it’s OK.
It’s OK to feel like running away.
And it is OK to tell society the harsh truth about being a parent to a child with a life-limiting condition or autism or Down syndrome or any other disabilities or challenges.
Latest posts by Geraldine Renton (see all)
- Nothing Like the Autism You See on TV - August 28, 2017
- On the Days That I Break - August 15, 2017
- To the Wonderful Men in Our Lives… Thank You for Everything - November 17, 2015