Saturday, March 29, 2014


"Mom, how many dollars do you have left?" Conor asked me as I came in the door after my 5-day trip. His typical brother and I had gone to Florida for Spring Break, leaving Conor and his father to fend for themselves. (My boys are in separate school systems, so different weeks of Spring Break. It works for us.)

"I don't know, you'll have to ask your dad," I replied wearily, heaving the extra-large black rolling suitcase up and over the step into our foyer. The airline had hung a scarlet tag marked "HEAVY USE CAUTION" on my bag, announcing the shame of my over-packing to everyone whose eye it caught. My yellow carry-on bag fell off my shoulder and clunked onto the wooden floor.

"Mom," he continued, squeezing his hands together. "Mom, how many dollars do you have left?" (He means how much does he have left to spend. He switches pronouns sometimes. Of course, I'm sure my husband truly is wondering how much I have left to spend after 5 days in sunny Florida with our youngest son.)

"Conor, Mom just walked in the door," my husband, Jim, chided gently. "Why don't you say 'hi Mommy, how was your trip?'"

"HiMommyhowwasyourtrip?" Conor said. "How many dollars do you have left?" Jim shook his head.

"Six," my husband said, exasperated. "Conor, you have six dollars left to spend."

"Mom," Conor said, holding his hand out to take mine. "Can you help Conor order off of Clay King a triple light-switch plate for six dollars?"

"Sure, honey," I replied, sighing. I left the bags in the foyer where they landed. Maybe my imaginary butler will magically whisk them away, I thought. "I'll help you."

Coming home after a trip away from Conor is bittersweet for me. I love him, I miss him, but I need that annual break. (My husband gets to golf for a week with his buddies once a year. I get to go on Spring Break with Aidan and one of my closest friends. That's our deal.)

When I return, though, it seems as if Conor doesn't miss me at all. That's what I told my husband that night over a late dinner as the kids were engrossed in America's Funniest Videos.

"It's like he didn't miss me at all," I said to my husband, picking at my food. I felt weary and numb from a day's travel. "It's all about what I need to do for him, what he needs, what he wants me to do." It feels like he only misses what I usually do for him, like he's not missing me for, well, who I am to him. I know it's because of his disorder, of course, but it still hurts my feelings sometimes. As silly as that sounds.

It also didn't help that Conor had FaceTimed me everyday while I was away, sometimes twice. He would sneak away from my husband on his Treasure Chest time and videoconference me before Jim even knew what he was doing.

"I want Mommy to ride the tram while she FaceTimes Conor," he'd ask. (The resort has an electric shuttle, or tram, to take people around the campus. Conor went last year, so he knows exactly what is there.)

"I want Mommy to get ice cream and order cookies-and-cream ice cream and eat it while we FaceTime."

"I want Mommy to buy Conor's t-shirt in the gift shop while we FaceTime." Every time my cell phone rang, it felt like my own Svengali calling to order me around. Show me this, do it that way, do it on my terms.

"He missed you," my husband assured me. "Especially at night when it was your turn to put him to bed. He would ask about you. He missed you, I know he did."

"It doesn't feel like it," I replied, shoveling the food into my mouth. "It doesn't feel like it at all."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Give It A Rest

Have you ever been so tired that you can't fathom ever not being tired anymore? God, I am so tired, and I've been having these stupid heart palpitations since I had elective surgery in January.  (They do, I have to say, look fabulous, thanks for asking.)

These heart palpitations, though, are totally freaking me out.

And I'm supposed to be going away next week with my typical son for a bit of respite. Which sounds really great, but leaving for 5 days fills me with anxiety.

Well, fills me with more anxiety than I already feel on a daily basis because, let's be honest, I have anxiety all the time.

I suppose I could say it's because Conor is really Mommy-focused these days, but that's not the whole truth. There is so much routine for my husband to remember here at home, there's the ever-present fear of a tantrum, we have a freakin' menagerie of animals now, and of course, the palpitations.

(The cardiologist can see me in 3 weeks, the receptionist said. Oh sure, it can wait. It's just, you know, my heart.)

And Conor, who just turned 15 in February, he's having a hard time growing up recently. I know this, because he tells me he doesn't want to grow up.

"Conor," I said to him this morning as he begrudgingly woke up over a bowl of oatmeal, "you did a really nice job of making a teenager decision last night to do your BRTs when you were upset, and to stay on Level 3 with your good behavior. Way to go!"

"Conor doesn't want to grow up," he muttered, rubbing his eyes.

"Why?" I asked. "Are you scared to grow up?" (I know, I'm leading the witness. Sometimes you have to, the communication disorder is just so hard.)

"Yes," he replied. "Conor wants to be a baby."

Of course, in the past, Conor has said he wants to be a baby because "babies get to hit". Those are his words, by the way. Babies don't get in trouble for hitting, he thinks. (Ok, insert frowny face here.)

But this time he admitted that he was scared to grow up. Which I get, 'cause it's, you know, scary. And he can't deal with the increased societal pressures of behaving appropriately very well. It's hard for him to hold it together a lot of the time.

But then we watched "My Cat From Hell" and the woman's cat had died. (It was the replacement cat that was the terror.)

"Why did the cat named Mia die?" Conor asked me, tucked under the fleece blanket on our couch. It's been freezing here in Maryland.

"Because it was old," I said. (It was.)

"Conor's not getting old. Conor won't die," he continued.

"No, sweetie," I assured him, patting his arm. "You're still young! You're just a teenager!"

Christ, I thought to myself. Maybe I'll stop complaining about him watching Caillou after all. Nobody ever dies on Caillou. It's not like watching a Disney movie.

Still, I don't have to worry about that today. I'm too busy worrying just about next week and how things will go while I am gone. Still, I will get on that plane tomorrow with my almost 12 year old typical kid and will close my eyes and hope that everything goes smoothly. Except now the weather forecast is calling for snow and ice tonight into tomorrow because, well, why not?

Yeah, something else for me to worry about. Sigh. I need a break.