Motherwhelmed and Wanting More

Motherwhelmed and Wanting More March 3, 2015

D happily  twirling beads around his Nanijan's (grandmother)'s finger
D happily twirling beads around his Nanijan’s (grandmother)’s finger

There are the articles, posts, op-eds and stories that the important ones. The BIG ones. The ones to affect change, get you thinking, expose a problem, right a wrong, grow awareness for a cause or situation, promote activism or convey a story that needs to be heard.

Then there are the ones that are seemingly nothing – the sharing of a thought, an experience, a feeling. Take what you want from it. Maybe sharing it is just an exercise for the writer to get out what she is feeling in her brain and in her heart, without any hopes or expectations of the reader’s experience. Maybe writing it is an act of love. An act of inviting you in to share that love, be uplifted by that love and feel something solid in that love.

Feel more love than hate. More joy than hurt. More peace then struggle. More better than worse. More right then wrong.

I’ve been thinking a lot about family dynamics. About how when one of your family members has  special needs and challenges, it requires reinventing those family dynamics, continually massaging those family dynamics and releasing expectations of those family dynamics. About how it takes a lot of stretching, bending, supporting, trying, helping, accommodating, celebrating, crying, laughing and loving to find a solid path for the loved one who needs special care and extra support, and for all the loved ones around him.

Our family dynamic is chugging along. Alhumdulliilah (thanks be to God), there are no major issues other than the daily major issues (autism and otherwise) we are already used to. And yet there seems to be a constant, nagging state of overwhelmness. I’m feeling motherwhelmed, actually (no, I didn’t make up that word – read it somewhere) – much like so many others, but in ways unique to our own family.

For me, this autism life have been a letting go of self. Motherhood is much of that anyway. The early years seems all about anyone who is not you – your kids, your family, your kids, your kids. The physicalness of it all is utterly beautiful and draining. You get to where I am, with teens, almost-teens and a younger kid, and the path has turned yet again. We’re at that point where the franticness of figuring out D’s autism, how to help, how to lessen that which is tough, how to get him to speak, how to fix all that we don’t understand and seems atypical has given way to, well, the same, but different.

I’m wiser, more attune to him, to his personhood, to his rights and his needs, to not expecting all of him to change for the world, but to also expecting the world to change for him. To recognizing how much health, and the pursuit of the best health possible, matters. To still struggling with my anger, despair and frustration at what is so hard for him while separating it from the love I have for him in all his glorious self.

There is so much I want for him, so much I want to do, but that is tempered by us having three children, not just one. (Which I love. Life would not be the awesomeness that it is without all three of them.) Our family dynamic also requires me to share focus with all our kids. With balancing their needs, and the thoughts, opinions, needs of their dad with the huge amounts of supports D needs in all aspects of his day. It’s the same in most multi-children families, I’m sure. But the dynamic is that much  more complicated over here, like it is for most families where a loved one has ecial needs.

Daanish hugging mummy
D and his Nanijan hugging, loving.

Motherwhelmed. Wanting to feel more love than hate. More joy than hurt. More health than sickness. More peace then struggle. More better than worse. More right then wrong.

Hold onto the moments, I tell friends who describe when they are feeling overwhelmed by all that is their lives. The brilliant, special, fun, extraordinary, warm moments that flare brightly before fizzing out into the daily grind. That’s where you’ll find your more. It’s easy to say that to others. Not so easy for me to do myself.

My parents came to visit for one, brief day this weekend. It’s hard for them to come longer than that, as my maternal grandmother lives with my parents. It’s hard for me to take the kids and go them as often as I want, because, well, the 2.5 hour car ride can get dicey. So it was special to all of us to have them here, but D’s happiness was extremely palpable.

He has always had an extraordinary relationship with both his grandmothers. And perhaps because he doesn’t see my mom as often as I would like, when they get together, it’s something other-worldly. He get so physically close to her, climbing into her lap, rubbing his face against hers, throwing his arms around her – it’s like he wants to physically crawl into of her love. He’s getting to be a big guy, so I don’t know how long they can keep this up. But I’m sure they’ll find a way to be close, no matter age, no matter size.

I watched them on the sofa this weekend. While the rest of the grandkids came for hugs and kisses and then ran off to play/color/laugh/talk/tease/scream, D just stayed close to his Nanijan (grandmother). They basked in each other’s love. Love with no rules, no pretenses, no boundaries, no starts and stops. Physical melding with the emotional – a love that almost made me jealous.

And thankful. Because it was the more that I needed to see. The more that cut through the motherwhelm.


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