We’re New Yorkers.
Before we radicalized Martin’s treatment, we also acted like New Yorkers. Saturday mornings Adrian took Martin to the playground while I went to the gym—Adrian called it the “Daddy Hour,” because the playground teemed with fathers and their toddlers, while the respective mommies slept in or aerobicized—and then we met for brunch at a favorite organic restaurant. Saturday afternoons we took an early dinner wherever we happened to be in the City, and usually at a pub. Sunday mornings we ate brunch at Middle Eastern joint near my church. Sunday evenings we ate family dinner at a popular Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. If Adrian could leave the office before 6:00 p.m. on a weekday, Martin and I picked him up and we went for snacks.
We took frequent weekend trips, often spur-of-the-moment, to the Island, upstate, the Jersey shore, Cape Cod.
The New York lifestyle ended when we decided to fight ASD biomedically and through diet. We almost never eat out as a family anymore. It’s not so much that we mind having to bring Martin’s food with us. Instead, it seems unfair. Martin has to sit at the table and watch us eat foods he can’t have.
Saturday mornings are not playground time anymore. They’re reserved for Adrian and Martin’s RDI exercises while I cook a large breakfast, trying to compensate for the loss of brunch. Sunday mornings Martin and I eat at home. Adrian drops us at church and escapes to the Middle Eastern joint, now with the company only of a book.
Weekend trips have dwindled. They take days of planning. Cooking and filling a cooler with heat-and-eat meals. Dividing and packing the correct oils, additives, powders, and supplements, some of which must be kept refrigerated. When we do leave town, we can’t stay anyplace without at least a kitchenette, so we end up visiting private homes or finding “suite”-type hotels. We love cruises, but those are out for a while. This summer we found an alternative vacation and rented a house in Maine.
A couple days ago a friend asked me whether I shoulder alone most of Martin’s treatment regimen, or whether Adrian helps.
I responded immediately and confidently that Adrian helps, a great deal.
But other than the RDI exercises, I couldn’t explain how.
I have the answer now: Adrian has, without complaint, accepted the wholesale abandonment of our former lifestyle. That takes a lot—to change what you enjoy, to create new models of together-time, to become a different kind of family. And he had to do it within months of learning that his only child has autism, and adjusting his expectations accordingly.
So Adrian helps by not resisting.
Am I giving him a pass? Maybe a little. But he’s the one who works full-time. More than full-time. It also bears mentioning that, from what I’ve seen and heard, the No. 1 impediment to many a mother treating her child’s ASD is an uncooperative father.
Sorry, dads out there. I know you are wonderful! It’s just that some of you are still learning to believe in recovery. I’m lucky that Adrian already does.
I recently informed Adrian that I am confiscating his personal care products and replacing them with natural and organic versions. He gave a weird little shrug and kind of rolled his eyes.
Love the honesty of this post! And I agree– not resisting is giving a lot.
It really is amazing how many mothers say their partners have stepped in the way of treatment, both Track One (“Not my kid. He doesn’t need it”) and Track Two (“That’s unproven. I’m not going to pay for it”). I haven’t done too much inquiry on this topic, but I wonder what it is about male parents that might make them more resistant.