We are lying in bed on Tuesday morning.
Me -"What would you like to do for your birthday?"
Hubby -"I want to see "Wonder Woman,"
Me -"You're looking at her. Lucky you, you're married to her."
A quick, witty response is my automatic mode of communication. I get it from my daddy, Ward Hollywood
Wesley. In our house, it is referred to as Wesley humor
and it is not meant as a compliment. Personally, I think it's so much better than biting someone's head off, although, I am known to do that too on occasion. Luckily for my family, I chose humor more often than I choose violence and yet, they still don't appreciate it.
I referred to myself as Wonder Woman in jest. It just kind of danced out of my mouth as the perfect response.
I've had friends and people who read this blog who actually see me as this superhero kind of mom.
"You are such an awesome mom. I admire your strength," they say.
I'm all like, Who are they talking about?
I feel like a fake and a fraud --so weak and beaten down --like I'm barely holding on. Most days I'm inches from running away and changing my name because I just can't do this anymore. And yet somehow, I'm still here trying to survive each day.
We were supposed to see "Wonder Woman" over the weekend. We didn't make it because Saturday morning I got one of those phone calls. You know one of those heart-stopping, double palpitation -calls, where the world is turned upside down in a moment's time.
Even when things seem to be moving along --progress being made every single day. You can still get one of those calls. As a mother of African-American sons who have autism and mood dysregulation, which clouds their thinking and judgment at times, I am always just a little on edge, waiting for that shoe to drop.
My boys live in a mostly white, somewhat alien world filled with all kinds of landmines that can easily make their path more dangerous. I never know when everything could suddenly go wrong. Have you seen the news lately? Are you aware of how high racial tensions are in the United States of America right now?
And we live in Texas...very white, primarily Republican, Texas.
Things go wrong every day. So many small things that happen become heightened by their anxiety. They worry constantly. They worry me
constantly. Stress on high is the norm around here. Their anxiety is my anxiety.
After this particular call, I jump into action, sewing open wounds, putting on anesthetic and Band-Aids to stop the bleeding. I jump to help minimize and problem solve however temporarily, until the next time they fall...backward, onto a bed of nails.
The boys are adults now. Means nothing --besides parenting harder because they think they know everything, but they are so clueless when it comes to many things. There are still so many intricacies, nuances, and things about this adult world that they have yet to learn.
Yet, the world sees them as adults who must play by the same rules that everyone else does, even though their autism is an obstacle that makes the road more difficult to navigate.
We are parents who live by example. We consider ourselves to be upstanding citizens of our community. We've been married twenty-three years. We are hanging in there ...together...by a string. Dad is working incredibly hard to provide. I put every ounce of my energy into advocating for them and making sure their needs are met, giving up all kinds of pieces of myself in the process. We give them every ounce of support and opportunity that we can muster to give and still ...they fall.
And when they fall ...it still knocks the wind out of me. Yet, there is no time for attending to my own wounds or catching my breath. I immediately move into action --problem-solving, advocating, teaching the additional lesson we've been dealt for the moment.
After the marathon of action to stop the bleeding, there was no energy for going to see a movie. Instead, I tried to catch my own breath from the gut punch that had been thrown. Dad can compartmentalize this stuff much better than I can. I sit in a stupor for a few days wondering what the hell just happened and what the hell is going to happen next? Will I ever be able to just fucking exhale and live like a normal human being?
But on this Tuesday, it is my husband's birthday. I have to pull it together. I have to put away the mom-to-the- rescue-advocate face and put on the loving wife face. The husband has been neglected over the past months of exacerbated stress with the one who just about killed me getting through his senior year. If I don't water the garden, our marriage, the relationship dies. It has been on life support for weeks now.
So, I go with him to see "Wonder Woman" for his birthday. I am not feeling witty or the least bit excited by the action of the film. I can't focus. Everything that happens in the movie somehow reminds me of the fight that I've been fighting for so many years. I am exhausted.
My mind drifts. In one scene, Wonder Woman takes a lick from an ice-cream cone for the first time and I think of my boy --the first time I watched the joy on his face as he licked an ice cream cone. I miss those days of innocence. I ache for them.
I wonder if I will ever be able to truly relax again in this lifetime?
How many more lessons of life do we have to support these boys through? Right now, the list feels infinite.
I made it through the movie and dinner. Afterwards we walk the promenade of a popular dining and shopping area. The summer wind is blowing in the breeze from the south.
In this moment, I am grateful that I have this man by my side. Thanks to him and champagne cocktails, I exhale.