I received another one of those emails. I’m talking about emails that come from someone who knows me and who, because of distance or busy schedules, keeps up with my life primarily through reading this blog. Such emails teach me that readers of this blog see me as a stressed-out, sleep-deprived robot obsessed with her son’s recovery. Maybe not quite that dramatic—but close. This email came from a family friend in Germany. I’m going to apologize now, in advance, to that friend about the poor state of my German-English translation skills, and then translate nonetheless. The email states, in part:
So now and then I read your blog about autism, what you write about yourself, how tired you are. I know the way your days go, and I ask myself how long you can endure this stress. You have taken very, very much upon yourself. “I do everything to make my child healthy.” I know, also, your perfectionism. I’m going to render a diagnosis from afar: burnout. You know I’m no psychiatrist, just a woman who knows what exhaustion feels like. In Germany you’d be sent off to mother-and-child Kur. I don’t want to give you advice, just the benefit of my experience: Let go of some of your perfectionism, and maybe loosen up some of the deadlines. Just do the best, not the absolute best.
Here’s the deal: This blog is all about autism, my son’s recovery, and the work entailed in that recovery, because… well, because this is a blog about my son’s recovery from autism. It is not a blog about my life. Martin’s recovery occupies a huge chunk of my time, as it has for the past four years. Martin’s recovery, however, is not my whole life. If I were to write a blog about my life (my fabulous, glamorous, ceaselessly fascinating life!), then my readers would know that, in the past seven days, I did the following:
- Attended a wine-and-food-tasting fundraiser for Martin’s school, at which I fielded many, many text messages expressing anger that I was not watching Game 4 of the Rangers–Penguins series, texts like, “A fundraiser? Are you kidding? Write a check, get out of there, and find a television”;
- Attended a fundraiser for ovarian cancer research, before which I discovered that the dress I wanted to wear, which I had purchased at a boutique located more than two hours from home, still had the security tag attached, meaning that I had to beg local stores, dress and receipt in hand, until I found a clerk with the correct machine to remove that particular tag;
- Attended a fundraiser for our town’s parent resource center, and left early, accompanied by Adrian, to drive to our favorite bar and watch Game 5 of the Rangers-Penguins series;
- Watched at least one game apiece in the Capitals–Islanders series, the Blues–Wild series, the Lightning–Red Wings series, the Canadiens–Senators series, and the Predators–Blackhawks series;
- Re-watched, the afternoon following the live event, Game 5 of the Rangers-Penguins series, while texting with my cousin, who was also re-watching Game 5, about what losers we are for re-watching a hockey game just to relive the glory of the Rangers’ win;
- Planted the early green leafy vegetables, including kale and arugula and spinach, in my garden boxes, “assisted” by Martin, and repotted Easter lilies from church;
- Had dinner with Adrian and Martin at a new restaurant, where the server complimented me and Adrian on our son’s excellent table manners (squee!);
- Rode my bicycle eight miles, round-trip, to Weight Watchers to find out that I gained 1.7 pounds last week, whereupon I cursed all those fundraisers and devised a new motto, “Wine is for the weekends”;
- Enjoyed a Monday-evening dinner with the other moms from Martin’s playgroup and completely disregarded my new motto; and
- Worked, a lot, at my flex-time legal job.
Sure, I also spent hours upon hours in the kitchen, making cauliflower tortillas, walnut taco filling, veggie meatballs, bone broth, fermented coconut water, garlic fish marinade, almond-zucchini muffins, a new cookie concoction I devised from sprouted buckwheat and coconut. (You guessed it: Most cooking happened while hockey played on the television.) I escorted Martin to piano lesson and gymnastics, emailed with his biomed doctor, organized supplements, got him measured for new orthotics, and completed daily vision exercises.
I did the autism stuff, and I did other stuff. I had a life.
For the most part, I’m well-rested these days, along with optimistic for Martin’s recovery, content to be lawyering (a little) again, and—dare I say it?—happy.
I’d write more about my everyday non-autism-related life, but I’m not sure my readers could stand the excitement. So I’ll stick to writing about autism recovery, and hope you’ll trust that, indeed, there is more to me.