For better or for worse, a great deal of parenting for me is keeping on a mask, keeping up a good front to my kids so that they don’t know how stressed or upset I get at times managing my eldest son’s autism and managing the very different needs of all three of them. I wrote about what goes on behind my parenting mask over on my blog, “Muslimah Next Door.” Here’s an excerpt:
One night last week during dinner, my husband, our two younger kids and I were eating dinner while our eldest son was in the throes of a tantrum – screaming, crying, and hitting himself hard on his head. My 8-year-old daughter asked me, “Mamma, you don’t seem upset. Don’t Bhai’s (brother) tantrums make you sad?”
Why yes jaan (darling), they do. His tantrums make me very, very sad.
But I don’t want you to see me sad, I don’t want you to see me as I feel inside – helpless and not in control – so I hide that and try to keep dinner conversation flowing, make sure everyone is eating, make sure that homework is completed, my work deadlines are met, kids are bathed, Qur’an is read, prayers are said, “Tom & Jerry” and “Cupcake Wars” are watched, groceries are bought, therapy is managed, meds are given on time, conversation is had with husband about things other than kids and autism, Facebook is checked, and that everyone goes to bed at a relatively decent hour.
There’s a lot going on in my house, a lot that I — like most parents — have to manage. And while I’m figuring out ways to let the mask go when it feels appropriate, I still can’t figure out what I can let go to manage everything better. Please come over to my blog to read more.