Daddy decided to move out.
We told Anna, and the pain of it slammed into me like a freight train, reducing me to an agonizing pile of disjointed parts. She asked us if we were joking. And the look on her face as she slowly realized we weren't will stay with me forever, etched into my very bones.
She's eight, so we kept the whys and wherefores out of it, reassuring her that we loved her but we just didn't love each other like we should anymore.
One of us was lying about that last part, and unfortunately, it wasn't me. As painful as that is, it is nothing to the pain of this. The pain of blowing your child's family apart.
And what about David?
There is no way I can make him understand this, any of it.
We decided at last to make it sound like an adventure.
Daddy is getting his own house! And you'll have a room there, just like here. You'll have toys in both places! And some weekends you'll be at Daddy's house and the rest of the time you'll be at Mommy's house. Won't that be fun, David?
It wasn't fun. Not at first.
He did okay the first custodial weekend, though he was more than a little confused as to why Mom couldn't come along.
The next custodial weekend, he refused to go, pitching a fit and laying down on the driveway, shrieking and crying uncontrollably
The custodial weekend after that, the neighbors saw him gripping the door jamb, refusing to let us pry his fingers off it, and then he tried to run until his father caught him and forced him into the car.
Five minutes down the road, he was fine. And all weekend he was fine. He called me to say goodnight every night, along with his sister.
It wasn't that he hated Daddy, or that he didn't want to go to Daddy's. He just hated change, and this was change.
This was big, big change.
There were times when it was really, really hard to stick to my guns. Every time he fought and cried, I gently wiped his tears and picked him up and buckled him in the car.
On his birthday, when we all went to Chuck E. Cheese, he suddenly spiked a fever and started feeling bad. He crawled into my lap and I held him as Anna played out the last of her tokens with her father. And then I handed David over to Daddy, because it was Daddy's custodial night. David's sad, fever-glazed eyes stayed on me as they walked out the door, and I remember stuffing my fist in my mouth so I wouldn't start sobbing in the lobby of Chuck E. Cheese.
My boy was sick. He needed me.
But really, his Dad is more than capable of giving him some Children's Motrin and putting him to bed. There's no need to alter a custodial schedule for a fever.
But it still didn't feel right.
They took a camping trip when the weather turned warm, and David called me to say goodnight. He was so excited, because he lost his first tooth. I have never been so grateful that I studied Theatre in college. I cooed and exclaimed and then I hung up the phone and I cried and cried and cried.
This is hard. This is so very, very hard.
Hard for them, hard for me.
But we're getting through. If there's one thing living with autism has taught me, it's to keep plugging through. Like Winston Churchill says, "When you're going through hell, keep going!"
So I take the kids by the hand, and I do.
|Ellie's journey with her son David has been one of joy, patience and discovery - one that changed the very framework in which she used to view autism. Through David's eyes, she's learned that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world - it's just the beginning of an interesting new one. |
Available at Amazon for Kindle - and Smashwords for all e-reading device.