Thursday, March 25, 2010

15 Minutes in the Dark

By all measure, January proved to be a busy month, keeping my mind whilrling from one opportunity to any number of in-my-face pressing realities. (How is is that laundry supernaturally multiplies, right in the middle of sorting it?) Too many times the pressure of the present overrides the prospect of a better tomorrow, clouding the ever pesky "to-do-list" pushing the things I want to accomplish further and further downward, to the brink of oblivion.

Thankfully, (to the exasperation of my husband) I am nothing if not persistent. And when something simmers in the background of my ever cluttered mind, it will eventually scream for attention, no matter how many other things in my life try to clamp the lid down on it.

Unfortunately, sometimes the rush and push of life takes over, and as much as we may strive to keep our mindset neat, tidy, and open, we may find ourselves in a place where shades are drawn, and we deny the realities that lie on the other side of the curtains. Whether it be in denial over a child's unwanted diagnosis (no matter how benign), digging our heels in to a long held point of view, or anything else - like the distraction of laundry and dishes, somehow, we'll land in the dark.

And if we're lucky, we'll only spend a moment or two there, choosing to search for the light, following it back to a better perspective of the situation that landed us there in the first place.

None of us should ever desire to cover our ears and shut our eyes to whatever any reality may be, no matter how uncomfortable, unwanted, or even simply unfamiliar, but if we do find ourselves in that place, may it only be for fifteen minutes, and may we become the stronger for it, learning, adapting, and choosing to continually move forward. Choosing the bigger picture.

Despite the fact that, in my case, the dreaded chore list continues to call my name.

Thankfully, steamy vanilla lattes scream louder.

And one's calling me now...

Monday, March 15, 2010

...and Then a Hockey Game Broke Out

When my husband and I were younger, hockey was part of (our dating) life. Overpriced pretzels and minor league matches made up any given Friday night.

Then, like most couples, we started a family, and all that changed. Sure, we brought our daughter from time to time. But as she grew, so did her sensitivity to darkness and unpredictable sounds that come with any given game. Autism doesn't like "sensory soup", so hockey switched from season tickets in the cheap seats to finding a not so cheap babysitter for date night. (Then hoping our daughter wouldn't wear her out!)

In short, trying to go to a game together not only became a hassle, it became a guys night out.

Which is great, if you are the guy in the relationship...

As life always does, time flew by, finding us in another state, with a grandmother-turned-sitter encouraging us to pick that old friend back up. But after a few years away from the game, here we were, headed toward seats five rows up from the ice. It felt good.

Despite the fact it was "bring your dog day".

To hockey. Indoor hockey. Where it gets dark and loud. And there aren't any fire hydrants, if you follow.

And then intermission hit.

The ticket prices were much higher than I expected, especially for such a low level of hockey, but we sure were entertained. On the ice were a troupe of girls with more material in their boots than the rest of them. That's right, boots on ice. Then they danced.

To, "Who Let the Dogs Out."

But that's not where it ended. Oh, no. We were just warming up. There was a dog race, a blimp dropping papers, pucks to throw onto the ice (which means, "Duck and cover!" for those of us sitting near the ice), flashing lights all over the place, all of which mesmerized the crowd more that any of the players did. It felt like the crowd was bribed to stay for a game. A game that most of them seemed uninterested in. And then there were the cheerleaders.

At hockey.

Cheerleaders. Standing off to the side of the stands, now in long-sleeved half shirts. (Apparently, they discovered it gets cold watching hockey.) Shaking pom-poms behind the Plexiglas, where no one could possibly hear them.

When did I miss the memo that my daughter could strive to be a hockey cheer-dancer-leader?

Somewhere, in the middle of all this, there was hockey. Ice scratched up by skates, checking into the boards, the thud of puck after puck hitting goalie pads, icing, 5 minute majors. Hockey. Pure hockey. And "our" team won.

But I'd be lying to say I don't miss higher level hockey. I'm pretty sure it does not come with as many bells and whistles.

Or pom-poms.

The old joke goes, "I went to a fight, then a hockey game broke out." Well, we didn't see a fight until the end of the third. That's how off the scale of normal yesterday was.

So we wound the date up by doing the obvious.

We went to the local furniture store, and ate dinner.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's Asperger's, All Over Again

Last night, I sat on my couch, wrapping up the last pieces of my new book. Time flies, like it often does, leaving me amazed at how far life has taken my family since my daughter was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, known as Asperger's Syndrome. It hasn't always been easy, but on the whole, it's been good. Fighting the fog that only a stubborn head cold can bless us with, I took advantage of a quiet household, and typed away. Knowing the potential to help so many gave me the energy needed to do what needed to be done in the moment. It felt good. And, now, being in the position to encourage, I felt at peace.

But that only lasted a handful of minutes.

The television was on, and I have to admit I wasn't paying much attention. But what caught my eye in a split second gripped me for the rest of the night. The characters on screen were discovering their child has Asperger's. And it was hard. They were solemn, serious, tearful. The following scenes reflected scenes in my own life. Times when actions, which seemed typical, now stood out like a flag waving in a storm. Yes, my child is different. Yes, we need to face this. No, I'm not sure what to make of it. Yet.

My family has come so far since those early diagnostic days. So far, that, somehow, I'd forgotten all about those tears. The confusion. The self-questioning. The raw emotion of it all. Watching fictional characters awakened very real memories, giving me an all too needed reminder that as far as we've come, others are just now crossing that threshold. And it can be a hard step to take.

Somehow, work garnered my attention. The excitement of it all returned, along with a deeper sense of purpose, and a reminder that we all approach those early days with a bushel full of emotions. But, seeing life from the other side of the street - for years, now - I know that the tears dry up, if we chose to make them do just that. Life really does choose a rhythm and a beat we can dance to.

Ok, so maybe I can't dance, but you get the picture!

There is so much joy that comes with Asperger's. There really, truly is. There is a perspective we gain having an Aspie in the house, which is a gem. But it takes time to reveal that gem to see it for what it is. As a mom of a daughter with Asperger's Syndrome, I know lots of happiness lies ahead, but I also know that those in the beginning stages of this journey need a few minutes to adjust before getting comfortable with the path that lies ahead. It might not be easy all the way, but it is good.

And I was reminded of just that last night.