It’s the Holiday season again. The time where we find the most perfect gifts for each other, bake and cook way too much food and get to see the Christmas spirit in our children’s eyes. Except for some of us that Christmas spirit isn’t there.
This past week as you’ve been scrolling through your social media feed, you most likely saw perfectly poised pictures with children in their Christmas jammies, cuddled in bed, or maybe a family photo by the Christmas tree, or the infamous Santa photo. Those social media updates look “Christmasy” (is that a word?) but my snapshot of Christmas? Well that photo is another story.
My son was diagnosed with Autism almost three years ago and he has never understood the Christmas season because his little body won’t let him. Decor, lights, that obnoxious elf…my child is so overwhelmed that he is melting down every few minutes. And me? It’s causing me to have all the feels. Sad? Mad? Heartbroken? Yes, yes, and yes.
I’m sad that Santa can’t bring my precious baby just one day of no anxiety.
I’m mad and asking WHY? Why can’t my baby just have ONE day out of his life that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed? I want to scream WHERE ARE YOU CHRISTMAS, WHY CAN’T HE FIND YOU?
I’m a hot mess mama right now. I decorated early, have had Hallmark Channel on so much that my child has acquired a new obsession…Liberty Insurance Commercials. We watch those on replay now. We went to see lights tonight to finish out the holiday and there was no joy. I think our golden retriever was more excited. I know it shouldn’t bother me but it does.
Why can’t he be given the gift of relief for just one day. We don’t do anything crazy. We keep it small just like every event but his body language says it all. He has done small little events that he enjoyed so much but the actual day and all the expectations are too much for him.
We had the opportunity to be near family this last year and it’s been amazing for him. He is so comfortable in their home that for a full 30 minutes I talked and never took off in the Olympic sprint we all know so well. I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed so much this week but I’m still heartbroken by his anxiety.
He does feel joy and he does feel loved. He can’t tell me he is happy but I know by his body language. He doesn’t understand these big days. He doesn’t understand why they are so “important” (are they really?). Birthdays, Easter etc. It hurts so much because they are all full of lots of activities that are too much for him. He always gets overwhelmed, and I wish he could just find a way to enjoy them. Even the smallest change in his life is stressful. Pulling up the rug to vacuum sends him off. I get it, I don’t like people touching my stuff either (hahaha) but I hate that something so small brings him such discomfort.
It’s so heartbreaking. I know some of you reading are thinking “oh whatever”, but you have no idea. Your kids knew Santa was coming, they anticipated it. You put out cookies, we did too he didn’t get it so I let the dog have some Holiday Cheer and he ate them. We did the elf, but OCD kicked in and every morning was full of anxiety of what the elf brought. I didn’t get a list, I didn’t get the excitement. He doesn’t comprehend any of it. So ya maybe this is about me. I’m hurt but he has no clue. I’ll never let him see that. He just came in a few minutes ago to say goodnight and the anxiety is all over his face. He is exhausted. His body is exhausted.
Holidays are so hard for special needs families but we aren’t going to tell you that. I mean I am now but we usually don’t share that. I’ve cried all weekend; tears of joy, tears of acceptance, tears of sadness and tears of love. It’s so emotionally hard.
I even borrowed neighbor kids to do Christmas stuff with us. Read that again, I borrowed other peoples kids. He loved it. His house was full of his people, his tribe. We do what works. We do what makes us happy but that doesn’t mean that late at night those missed moments aren’t hard.
I’ll go to bed tonight a happy Autism Mama because my boy is happy. He doesn’t know that Christmas is over, he is just happy that all his things are in the right place and everything will go back to “normal” tomorrow. He is happy because that plush toy he had so much anxiety about finally showed up. He will be so excited to go on a road trip tomorrow and just get to be him with no rules or boundaries.
My son has the best village, an amazing tribe of people who just love him unconditionally with absolutely no questions asked. They just do. I am blessed with them as well. It’s so hard to talk about this stuff, to tell people you are hurting during the most wonderful time of the year. To say that you are sad when your son is so incredibly happy.
That’s special needs. We are special needs parents and we have our own special needs.
Some days we just need to feel it all. Get it all out. Write a blog so that others don’t feel alone. Let other people know that you can love your child to the moon but still feel sad sometimes. That’s Autism, it’s a spectrum of emotions. The most important part of that beautiful rainbow is the love. Love will get you through it all. Love will get me through my meltdown tonight and it always will. Love always wins.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. May you find your peace this season.