Today I forgot Johnny’s lunchbox and it’s been a day.
Yesterday was an amazing day. We went to a nearby farm for their pumpkin patch and other fall activities. Johnny did amazing. He watched a magic show and laughed hysterically, he interacted with us, picked a pumpkin, and played with his cousins. Of course, after an exciting day like that he was over-stimulated but we came home, let him settle and went to bed.
Overall a great day. Adding to a great couple of weeks we’ve had. He’s been making so much progress. Things have been good. How soon I forget that every time we go forward it’s time to start the countdown to going backward.
Last night was rocky – but okay. Everyone ended up in our bed at some point. Not exactly comfortable for this mama. So the morning ended up a little rushed. I could tell Johnny was off. I figured it would happen after a special day; but I hoped getting back to the routine would help him.
In the chaos of the morning I messed up. I didn’t notice until halfway to J’s center that I forgot his lunch. Immediately my heart sank. I tried to hold onto some hope. He’s been doing so good. Maybe he’d understand and it’d be okay. Maybe I could drop him off, pick up my nephew who I watch, run home, grab lunch and get it to him long before time to eat.
But then dropoff didn’t go great. He cried when I left. He never cries like that anymore. It was an off day. But once again optimism hit. He loves his center and therapist; once he got in the room and started going it would all be fine.
It wasn’t fine.
When I entered the lobby with lunch in hand, the office manager came running from the back saying “I’ll take that back” in a flustered tone. She said there’d been a long recovery from him not having his lunch box. So, for the the hour and 10 minutes that it took me to get the lunchbox and come back, he’d been having a meltdown.
My heart sank. My son was panicked, sad and confused because of me.
I know what some would say. It’s what I may have said before Johnny, “Let him cry. He has to learn to deal with these things. Life’s hard he’ll learn.” The thing is that yes I hope he slowly gets used to things not always going perfectly. The world is not going to cater to him, but he won’t learn because I let him cry or tell him to “suck it up”.
Every weekday Johnny goes to his center. Everyday, he carries in his backpack and lunchbox. Everyday, he hangs up his backpack in the lobby and goes into the back with his therapist and lunchbox. The first thing he does in the back is put his lunchbox in the refrigerator, then his day can start.
In his mind that’s how it goes. He can’t understand when it doesn’t go that way. Occasionally, with time and repetition we can explain if something new or different is coming. Today things were already rough, I tried to explain, but it didn’t help.
He did not have his lunchbox or his water bottle that comes with it. He couldn’t get past it. Anxiety took over.
As a mom I feel like I ruined his day, his therapist’s day, and my day. I feel horrible for making my son feel that way. I’m always taking precautions. Trying to make sure I have everything ready to help him. Some things are out of my control and that’s okay. I know anxiety and meltdowns will happen, but when It’s my fault the guilt is unbearable.
I never thought I’d be the perfect mom. I am not a type A personality. My house would never be perfect, my cooking would always be just okay, we’d always be a little disheveled, and that’s how it is. I own that.
But when it comes to autism I have to be on it. I have to do my best or I feel awful.
Sometimes that pressure is a lot. It’s a little suffocating. I know I look like a crazy person a lot of the time. My mind is always 5 steps ahead. I’m planning out every way things can go wrong before they do. I just have to mentally be ready. Dropping the ball has consequences.
I can’t even forget the damn lunchbox.