Autism And Other Minor Concerns

As human beings we worry a lot. We don't seem to ever stop. We worry about our health, our safety, money, sometimes even stupider stuff, like which car to drive in our thirties, which meals to eat on a Sunday. If a burglar may kill us in our sleep, or if cancer will do the job during the light of day.

As parents, we worry about our kids, if they get enough sleep, if they eat enough of everything, if their poop's consistency is to our liking, if they experience enough of anything. These are somewhat understandable parental worries.

So, I, newly a mother of two, have been asking myself: am I doing a good job mother-wise. It's highly questionable, I will ever get an answer other than the one I can provide myself. Something scary has been going on, and it has been going on for quite a while. We have been concerned about our son's speech development for a few months. It hasn't progressed normally, even along the normal parameters for boys (expected to being slower than girls), he is far behind. At two years, kids should be able to produce 50 to 200 words, they should be able to understand up to 400 words. Plus they should be able to do such things as look a person in the eye, and, not resort to screaming when having to perform certain tasks asked to do by other persons than the immediate family.

Well, you, what can I say. Our boy didn't do well in any of said tasks. Until recently, he didn't say a single word, he didn't interact socially with people outside the family, and he didn't perform to the pediatrician's satisfaction. The result of this was an under-average performance in the developmental test, and the pediatrician telling me that judging by his behavior, my son may be in the autism spectrum. All I could say was, yes, well, OK. I didn't add the classic retort "That is yoooour opinion!" and "I'll get another opinion, you!" . No, I didn't. My reflexes were a bit off that day.

I tried to find flaws in their test, the whole setup. I couldn't. It is a standardized test, with the same conditions for everyone, so the results are representative for his age group. I then alleged a conspiracy. Doctors being greedy money makers who want to sell you stuff and services. Maybe they are. Still, they couldn't sell you anything if there wasn't a kid in need of those services.

I was next in line. It's me. Too much iPad, too little parenting. We jokingly call the iPad parental unit c in this house, just to give you a little grasp of its importance. So, it had to be me. Either something I did wrong or something my crummy genes did wrong to cause that in my boy. As it turns out, my genes are rather likely to cause that kind of disorder. Not gluten or the iPad. At least I think they don't. As it turns out we know so little about autism, or the brain in general, that there's plenty of room for all kinds of crazy theories.

"If he has it, it's all my fault, OK?" hubby said to me, while we were driving in the car. Hubby's so sweet. "I mean look at me, the way I am." Awww, my sweet little Asperger! I replied that we're both a couple of odd people with some variance of social strangeness. So in my mind, it has to be a rather explosive coming together of crummy genes. Romantic, if you think about it. We combined our flawed gene pools and what came out was an even bigger water, a big muddy sea of crummyness. Awwww!

And that changed my perspective. Yes, we're both old and horrible but we created something genuinely unique. Not saying that special always means good or easy. But no matter how this turns out, if it really is autism, some other disease or nothing at all, our boy is extraordinary, the way his brain is clocked, the way he sees and assesses objects, people, concepts. I like to watch him watch the world and it's fascinating and endearing. And that is something to be happy about rather than sad or worried. He'll be an interesting human being no matter how this plays out. It won't always be easy for him to find his place in the world. But in this world, there should be a place for interesting, off-beat, difficult and lovable.


I'm off!

I guess the time has come to admit it, so I'll finally admit to it: I'm off. I'm blank. I'm vacant. Being creative, making time for other things besides maintenance of life (hah, gotta love the specifics): it's all gone. Off the map. Me, the person who wrote each and every day and blogged half-regularly: was it just a fluke? Or a placeholder? Am I being overly dramatic? Well, I guess it's a little bit of all of the above.

I'd like to cling to the hopes of having a tiny little residue of energy left to go on - creatively speaking. Some day. I haven't given up the idea of a writerly career. But to get there, I have to write. Every day. Stay in shape. Honestly, it wouldn't be hard to make time if I really wanted to do it now, but the truth is, these days I'm burning on a low flame. And I prefer sleep over writing.

With a second kid, I somehow feel ridiculous talking about the importance of art and leisure. It has little meaning to me. I'm not saying that I found it elsewhere, because there's no infinite wisdom buried beneath baby poop and vomit, but these are the pressing issues in my life right now. Life upkeep. Hey, by the way, here's the test to find out if you are a real writer: If you have the choice between writing a story and cleaning up a spilled drink that drips down to the floor, what would you do first? If you choose writing over cleaning up, congrats, you are a writer! If you are like me, and you can't do anything else, knowing that something is dripping, you are not. Or maybe you have OCD.

There are a couple of other options, for those of us who want to combine the everyday life with writing. I thought about it. Writing about the everyday life. Unfortunately I can't mash up these things. I'm not a baby blogger. I just don't have it in me. And I rarely find other baby blogs to be insightful or original, least of all entertaining - except for the Baby Bible, which I've come to enjoy quite a lot.

Me, I don't want to talk regularly about the ups and downs of being a nurse, janitor, baby feeder. Unless those babies have magical powers hidden beneath their diapers that is, then I could write about it and call it a fantasy story. And in regards to writing about being a parent, there's not much to go on either. My quintessential parental insight basically comes down to one rule, namely "try not to kill kids". Well, there could be a funny angle to this, but it's more like a pun: "Today: tried not to kill kids, and barely succeeded." But that's about it.

Why didn't I jump in while I had more time? It's easy. I'm afraid. I'm afraid no one will care about the story I labored over, and worse, that it's an utter failure, and no one will care,  which is basically worse than having a million bad reviews. Having a sucky story and no reviews. Annoyed people still are an audience. If no one is annoyed, is it like the proverbial tree in the forest? Does my writing even exist? Seems like at the moment, I can't answer these questions.

Right, I do care a little too much for someone who doesn't put any effort in having their story published, don't I! Hah, maybe there is a grain of hope. A little one.


Are We Judgmental Bitches?

I read a post on Facebook a little while ago, about a young woman who had made the conscious decision not to have any children. I think she used the word never with some exclamation points. She wrote that afterwards she got a lot of headwind for openly refusing a life with children, and a backlash was sparked amongst mothers who allegedly have a big problem with that. She continued to appeal to the rules of a civilized and equal society, to let her do what she wants and just leave her be.

A reasonable request. I found myself wondering however to what extent the societal pressure she was talking about is an issue, if though a perceived reality it may be. Is it really other people, who make her feel badly about this decision, and by extension, is it even possible for other people to make us feel anything along the lines of doubt and insecurity?

First of all it seems to be pretty demure to not want something as a life choice. It's the opposite of needing stuff to exist. Some people think they need a Porsche to survive. In case of anything materialistic, usually people go for it or they don't, depending on the effort they are willing to put in. Either way in my experience, people generally don't really care about other people's harbored ambitions or even openly voiced desires.

We may take notice when you have something that we don't have, be jealous, or decide we want it too, but that's a different story. Most of the time, other people's aspirations don't even register - we're all much too concerned with what we want anyway.

Yes, sometimes mothers, parents, will appear judgmental, mostly in comparing their own parental style which they claim to find flawless, to other, allegedly inferior styles of parenting. This is what I think it's really about: being defensive about our own shit. Attacking not to be attacked.

I don't believe there's a single mother on planet Earth who thinks she's perfect. You may have days, moments, when you think, man, I'm great, I got this whole thing figured out, but the next minute you find your kid sitting in the corner, suckling on a beat-up cat toy and you think to yourself: damn, I'm raising a monkey. Stop licking the wall, Bingo.

Anyways, so what I think it comes down to is that parents are not in the business of judging anyone for refusing the whole child experience. We may think you're missing out on something big. Because we think it's pretty big. Parents don't know what they're missing out on by having children. Adventure, travel, the great escape? Just a wild guess. Childless people don't know what they're missing out on by not having them. There is no grounds for either of us to judge here.

Be that as it may, the declaration to adhere to a certain lifestyle, any lifestyle, for the rest of your life just isn't very reasonable. How often have you thought, OK, this is it, I'm settled, this is me. Life usually doesn't work on our terms. In case something completely surprising happens, and chances are that it will, our cores may be shaken, personalities will be disheveled and everything we thought we knew will be turned upside down.

So when it comes to life, there may be no other way than to stay flexible. It seems like a bad idea to close your mind to anything, even ideas that may seem bad or plain wrong at the time. They may appear more convenient a minute from now, or when things happen and you have to deal with the altered reality in front of you. Most of the time stuff happens despite our grand proclamations. And in a moment of crisis and change, we will find out we can deal with pretty much anything, and tackle things that are very different from our current agenda, our own prejudice, and yes, even those pesky children may add something to your life you never even imagined you'd love so much. Same goes for everything else of course. New doors open. It's out of our control when they do. And that's the terrifying and fantastic thing about life.