Friday, May 7, 2010
Smelling The Roses
I hauled the same squelchy clothes out of the washing machine, packed the same greasy plates (plus a few thousand tea mugs, god bless 'em) into the dishwasher and hoovered the same manic debris from the same sticky floors.
My feet felt like lead and I felt I was going insane with the incessant sameness of it all.
But I had a little flash of insight that helped me see the woods and the trees.
I spend a lot of time teaching my kids the difference between want and need.
And I thought that maybe I should start to live by my own lectures.
I was brought up in poverty...and before you worry that this is going to become a hand-wringing boo-hoo fest, you can put away your hankies because I don't do self pity.
We were never hungry, but we lived in a rodent-infested, damp three-roomed house (a kitchen and two bedrooms), with a single cold tap, no central heating and no bathroom or toilet.
That was home to my two parents, six kids and a sick grand-uncle.
Our clothes were hand-me-downs, and holidays were something other people did.
It wasn't quite Angela's Ashes, but it was an uncomfortably close first cousin.
As a child I didn't think anything about it all, but now I am filled with relief that I don't have to raise my kids in the same conditions.
I'm also a little ashamed of myself for complaining about the cost of fuel (for our TWO cars), the price of insurance (for our FOUR bedroomed house) and the unending amount of laundering of our (FOUR wardrobes full of) clothes.
By extension, I am also almost giddy with relief that Bob has access to an excellent Outreach Unit, is transported there and back by a taxi I don't have to pay for, and that he has some semblance of services for his autism.
His services could (and should) be better, but if Bob was born in 1970 instead of me, he would have been institutionalised in a hospital for the then-called "mentally handicapped".
Goodbye Bob, hello medicated, incontinent, spoon-fed, speechless cast-off.
This is not to say that that just because things are good, that they shouldn't be better...it would be wrong to stop fighting for improved services for our special needs kids just because our current society is good enough not to lock them up and throw away the key (season with sarcasm to taste).
Whoopee for current society.
But sometimes I want so much more for him than he actually needs.
We are lucky enough to live on this small, imperfect rock clinging to the west of Europe, where food, heat, shelter, education, healthcare and justice are expected (if not always delivered) and where we at least have the foundations of improvement dug.
What I want for him is to be normal (may I be burned at the stake for heresy) ...but I suspect that in the wee, small hours of the night that this is what most autie parents wish for.
But what I need for him is really not much more than he already has.
He has a family who love him, a school who are ambitious for him and he is as healthy as a wild duck.
He has services that are not frequent enough, but that give me the tools I need to educate myself and become his 24/7 therapist (as well as his Doting Mammy, of course).
He has his angel Lorraine for 3 hours a week for home support, to allow me time to search among the drumlins of Monaghan for my mental health (I know it's there somewhere).
If I was in the God Squad, I'd say a prayer of thanks to the patron saint of Tumble Driers, Speech Therapists and Ford Mondeos.
But as I'm likely to spend eternity being gently sautéed in the pits of hell (where they have better parties anyway) I'll just thank my lucky stars that Bob was born where he was, when he was.
And to continue fighting to Good Fight, while smelling the roses in the garden.