The Short Bus Diaries » Confessions About Life With an Autistic Son

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The Purity Factor

I realized tonight that I haven’t painted my toenails yet this season.  I say “season”, because I have never cared what my toes look like when I’m not wearing sandals.  Let’s face it: I have always been the type of woman who has to be strongly motivated to put contact lenses in over glasses, and to put make-up on.  Putting paint on the part of my body that people see last has never really caused me to lose sleep or to avoid wearing open footwear.


Cell Phone Self Portrait of a Photographer (who was too lazy to get her camera and take an artful shot of her feet)



Why am I babbling on about this, you may wonder?

Because I actually wanted to give myself a nice night off.  A shower…without my daughter sharing it with me. A night of So You Think You Can Dance on TV, without simultaneously editing photos.  And even a purely girly couple of minutes of doing my nails.

And then I realized that I can’t really get the kind of enjoyment out of these simple activities…the way I did before.  And then I realized that “before” was really only three years of my son’s life, whereas the “after” (as in, after The Diagnosis) will last Much Longer.  So I guess I better stop bitching and get on with it, right?

But I really, really miss the feeling of simplicity – whether it was simple exhaustion, simple joy, simply vegging on the couch, simply making myself look attractive for a night out with some friends, simply eating dinner and gazing at my beautiful children.  Now everything has the flavor of autism swirled in.  Nothing tastes pure.

And I don’t think it ever will again.  I am coming to realize that there will always be concerns about my son sprinkled into every scene of my life – save sleeping.

Sure, once a parent, you are “doomed” to never be alone in your thoughts again.  That’s what we sign up for, no matter what kind of children we have, right?  Yeah…..but…

That’s not what I mean. And I’m pretty sure this loss is felt by parents whose children face any sort of significant disability or illness.  Every moment is divided between what is actually happening and the Other Thing.  I’m pretty sure that even if I decided to take up an Oxycontin or Crystal Meth habit, I’d still feel torn between pleasure and disappointment/pain/worry/sadness.

Oh, woe is me. Sometimes I wish I would just shut up and woman up.

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