This is my first blog since last October, so much has happened in between but I will write about that some other time. I just felt that by blogging about this issue, it might help me get some clarity and move on from this particular stumbling block in my journey with Dr. Destructo.
Yesterday, Mother's Day, was a bad day for me. I am annoyed at myself for getting carried away again in the trappings of another hallmark holiday which seems to only bring pain. You think I would have learned from previous occasions but no, all gung ho to have a great Mother’s Day. P off work so all set for a day of relaxing and being spoiled. The day started off ok, I woke in great form. We had been to Dr. Destructo’s cousin’s party the previous day and he had a ball. Luckily the weather was good and they have a huge garden filled with all his favourites, sand pit, blocks, rubble, sticks and there was an endless supply of buns so he was happy. Due to all the ongoing hard work being done by his wonderful tutor and ourselves, the Doc is coming on in leaps and bounds. His understanding has improved, PECS & LAMH are working a treat, he is vocalising continuously and his social interation and eye contact are all coming on. It is tough going, the teaching is continuous and is not confined to the classroom. We need to be on toes all the time but it is all fun and we are energised and encouraged from the Doc’s progress. We love singing songs and telling stories and my heart soars watching him doing the actions to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
So why am I so upset? It’s such a silly thing. The Doc will not say Mam. He will not say Mama, Mammy, Mother, even Maaaaaaaa. We can prompt him to say most sounds, the Speech & Language Therapist told us that certain letters are the last to come but M is not one of those. The Doc also has some unprompted words, bun, drink, egg to name a few and he will use these in the appropriate setting. He is copping on to the fact that words bring rewards, requests using words are celebrated and the item is handed over without question. During his tasks he can pick out random items such as watering can or apron, he learns the names of new characters from programs in an instant, he can point out the word ‘dvd’ on any publication and we are often amazed at his vocabulary. I cannot get my head around this refusal to say Mama. Is it that he doesn’t know what a Mama is? Who does he think I am? If I left would he even remember or miss me? I know he gets upset if he sees me getting into the car or leaving the house so I usually get P to distract him so I can sneak out. When I come home he is super happy to see me. Some days he is welded to me and just loves to be hugged and cuddled. If both of us are in the house with Doc, I would be his preferred option. When he comes into our bed, he sleeps on my head. When he is sick, he only wants me. We have our own little special games that we play and he hops onto my lap to initiate them. Sometimes he thinks I am hilarious and I might just be singing the 123.ie radio ad theme tune to him. I know the Doc loves me, if P goes to get him up in the morning he looks around him to see where I am. So why can’t he just say Mama? Our tutor is working hard on this; I think she knows how upsetting it is for me. When we first realised that there was a problem with the Doc, we brought him to a Speech & Language therapist and she remarked that he is just using me to fulfil his needs. This has stuck with me since that day in January 2009.
I was never a very maternal person. I love all our nieces and nephews but would only spend a limited amount of time playing with them. I certainly never had any interest in small babies. I enjoyed when they got to about six months and became chubby and giggly. Being the eldest of eleven, you think things would be different. But I would be sitting in the corner reading and my sister next to me would be feeding a younger one their bottle or dinner. I am a good big sister though, I loved spoiling the younger ones and when I started working, every weekend I would bring them home treats. So the decision to have a child wasn’t one that came naturally to me. I realised that I wanted to have a child, but just the one. P was happy with this, he is the opposite of me and really loves all children but we talked things over and decided to try for our baby after enjoying the good life for a few years. I got pregnant fairly quickly and I was hooked straightaway. Pregnancy was fine, we had a lovely time watching box sets and eating biscuits. I missed not drinking but certainly enjoyed eating all around me. The birth was tricky enough but when Dr. Destructo popped out, I fell in love with this 8lb 11oz bundle and became a mother. Or so I thought.
The Doc was our number one priority. We made sure all his needs were met and he was, and still is, a fairly placid little dude. We established a good routine which I think he has benefited from. Touch wood we have had no major tantrums to date and we can distract him easily enough when he becomes upset. Our tutor is surprised that he is so easy going but I think it is because we don’t push it with him. We expose him to all aspects of life but if it becomes apparent that he is bored or becoming stressed we take him home. He gets our full attention and we are fully committed to his Home Tuition program. As a mother, I’m not sure what else I can do. I think I have covered all the bases in providing motherly services but then again maybe my early non-maternal instincts are still lodged somewhere and preventing me from crossing the final hurdle into motherhood. Perhaps the Doc has picked up on this? I honestly don’t think this is true because words cannot express the love I have for the Doc. I would literally die for him. I have changed in unimaginable ways since he was born. I enjoy all the motherhood chores, I love dressing and undressing him. I’m not fussed when he gets dirty; I love to see him running into the kitchen to me when he has finished with his tutor for the day, covered in paint or top wet from water play. I sing Ireland’s Call to him when I am putting his rugby jersey on and he recognises the song and raises his arm to ‘Ireland’. I challenge him constantly and get him involved in baking or even emptying the dishwasher. I love nothing better than just pottering around the house with the Doc. If I’m tidying and he comes over to pull me down for a cuddle or show me something I give him my undivided attention. I rarely get cross with him and I seem to have developed patience from somewhere. So I am doing all the motherly things and enjoying all the responsibilities. I worry constantly about the Doc and his future. I am nearly fully accepting of his Autism apart from days like yesterday.
Children seem to call for their mama from an early age, it seems to come so naturally. I know because of Dr. Destructo’s ASD, things which come naturally to other children need to be taught to him. He is learning at a fierce rate but there seems to be a roadblock when it comes to saying Mama. I want him to call me when he wakes in the morning instead of whinging at his room door until I come. I want him to call me from across the room instead of pretending to fall down so I will run over to him. I have to believe that he knows I am special to him and not just a convenient care giver. I have to believe that he is not using me to fulfil his needs. I was angry yesterday and hurting because Dr. Destructo has never called me Mammy. I ruined the day for myself by dwelling on this one thing.
The good thing is we can look forward to Easter because for some strange reason the Doc is fascinated with eggs. Whenever we go visiting he checks everyone’s fridges for them, he loves to hold them, he becomes excited by the displays in the supermarkets, and we have to keep moving ours from different presses so he won’t find them. Egg is one of his unprompted words and we dance around the kitchen when he says it. But it's hard to stomach being lower down the language pecking order than an egg.
It is one thing that will truly break my heart if the Doc doesn’t call me Mam. I think I can cope with everything else. I think.