“It feels as though I had a string tied here under my left rib where my heart is, tightly knotted to you in a similar fashion.”
I don’t know about you, but I have always been a sucker for a good old bit of escapism into Jane Eyre’s world of period costumes and romantic drama. And without fail that line always leaps off the page right at me every time I read it. That magical connection between two people that needs no words. No explanation or thought. It exists…… just because!
This is how I feel about my children. They are my world and I’m connected to them through invisible bonds. You see, they will always be part of who I am. It’s instinct, and I just feel it – like string connecting our hearts together.
I feel their pain; I share their joys and laughter. I worry when they worry. When they cried as babies I knew what they wanted. When they stir in the night I am there to soothe them. When they need care and love, I am there. No words are ever needed, because I’m their mum.
I have close relationships with each of my three, and my girls are growing up to be wonderful young ladies. I can see their independence developing; and their personalities blossoming, as bit by bit I slowly have to loosen the string that connects us. They have their own minds; and ideas, and they will leave me one day to live their own lives with their families. That bond will always be there but I will have to let it stretch some more to let them go when the time is right.
My relationship with my Autistic son feels somehow different. Our strings are still connected as tight as ever, if not tighter. Maybe it’s because he can’t always express himself, or because people find it hard to understand him. Perhaps it’s because I am so fine tuned to him after 11 years of being his safe place. But I just know that I get him – because I’m his mum! We are interlinked. He trusts me; and relies on me to get through his day and that leads to something wonderful and unique as a mother. Yes things are tough but there is so much to be thankful for too. When things are good, they are amazingly good. However, as ever life has a habit of throwing little obstacles in our way, like this week for example –
Rather inconveniently I developed a painful mouth abscess on the nerve of my tooth (that I really could have done without). But as a result I had become shattered on the medication, and had to keep sneaking off to my room as a way of coping with the pain. It hurt to talk, and move my head, and you could say I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I am ashamed to admit my kids ate take away on a school night, and ready meals that pinged in the microwave! My floor didn’t see a hoover for three days… and, well, my hair didn’t see shampoo for three days either if I’m honest!!
As the days passed and the routine of home disintegrated, I could feel my son’s anxiety ramping up as a result. He was stressed and worried about me but just couldn’t express it. I had become distant because of the pain; his routine was out of sync and I was being a rubbish mum.
After a particularly manic half hour, in which I was close to losing the will to live – whilst trying to get him to take a shower, my son (who, bear in mind has Autism, and struggles to express himself) floored me with this comment-
“Mum, I feel your distress like a whale call.”
It hit me – Just like I feel his worries and pain, he feels mine.
He couldn’t explain that it was making him anxious; or defiant, he just knew he could feel it. He could feel something wasn’t right. Like a whale calls out to its mum in the ocean. It’s just his instinct.
I realised that, just because he is Autistic – and he can’t always articulate how he feels, that doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling it. In fact, if anything I think his Autism amplifies his feelings all the more.
My girls – Yeah they gave tea and sympathy. But my son… he felt it. He felt a knot in the string that connects us, no words or explanation needed… He just felt my distance and it confused him. His instinct told him something was out of sync.
There’s so much about Autism we don’t understand: wonders and talents that lie yet undiscovered in our kids. My son seems to feel the world around him; it’s all amplified. He smells and touches and sees things that I take for granted. So what that language doesn’t come naturally to him, because he works on an instinctive level that I can only glimpse when I view the world though his eyes. Children like my son have a lot to teach us about relationships and love. He just feels it. He doesn’t overanalyse and complicate with words. He feels the bond he has with others and holds on tight… just because!