If you read yesterday’s tedious post about a Tuesday morning, you may have asked yourself why I, your blogger, was the parent doing everything. Adrian, who is not only my husband but also Martin’s father, was at home that morning. His role in the story was limited to showing up for toast and coffee, showering, and leaving later than usual in order to drive me to the train station. And goshdarn it, he got to sleep until 6:30.
Autism recovery is long and expensive. You know that. For me, the heartbreaking posts in my on-line biomed groups are the ones like, “I’m trying so hard to help my child, but my husband subverts everything I do,” or, “Before autism, we had a real marriage, but now I’m married to him only because I need the insurance,” or, “I’ve become a single parent, with limited resources. If you had to pick either organic food or supplements, which one would you buy?”
If parents intend to navigate the autism-recovery journey together—or even remain a loving, adult couple in the face of autism—they need to find their way to the same page, i.e., to talk openly and craft a mutually acceptable plan. In our family, by agreement, the division of labor is this:
Research treatments; schedule all doctors and therapists; plan necessary travel; monitor diet; procure and prepare special food; order and administer supplements etc.; coordinate childcare for when I’m working or otherwise unavailable; oversee detox baths and sauna use; inquire about and visit schools; keep medical and school records; serve as activity chauffeur; monitor home environment; be assumed-on-duty parent at all times except when advance arrangements are made (“Saturday afternoon from 1:00-3:00, I need to edit a brief. Can you take Martin?”).
Earn the money to pay for all this.
Whether this arrangement is fair depends on your viewpoint. I am the parent who had to give up my career in order to handle Martin’s recovery effectively. That being said, I am also the parent lucky and privileged enough to be able to surrender an office job and devote my hours to Martin. I am the parent who gets less sleep in order to juggle all that needs to be done, and who manages the stress of autism/ADHD. That being said, I am also the parent without office and workplace stress, with more freedom in how I organize my time. I am both the parent who has to do most of the day-to-day decision-making and the parent who gets to do most of the day-to-day decision-making. Adrian cannot cook or prepare supplements or measure detox baths; when I must travel alone, Martin’s nanny Samara stays in our home to take care of him. To take care of Martin and Adrian both, really. That being said, Adrian never begrudges my time away from home.
Moreover, whether our arrangement is fair does not matter one iota, because it is the arrangement that works for me and Adrian. The very big decisions, such as whether to undertake chelation, or where Martin should attend school, we make together. I may go so far as to prepare a presentation of alternatives, with supporting information, so that Adrian can help make an informed choice. My being the biomed parent does not negate Adrian’s being an enthusiastic and involved father. Martin is Adrian’s Mini-Me. They dress alike, go to the gym together, rock-climb together, ride bikes together. They get the more typical parent-child relationship. I get the rest of it.
Adrian likes to say that it’s to my credit, not his, that Martin is doing so well. He calls Martin my “masterpiece.”
I respond that I couldn’t manage this process without my partner.