Wednesday, October 8, 2014

22,577,760 Minutes

My father-in-law has often expressed that he doesn’t “feel” his age. By that, he means that even though he is well into his seventies, he doesn’t feel any different than he did when he was twenty-six. So much so that it is sometimes a surprise to see himself in the mirror and recognize that he is not, in fact, twenty-six any longer. I understand this. I am not, as a general rule, aware of my age.

But there are moments in which I feel every minute of my nearly forty-three years.

It happened yesterday afternoon as I was going to pick up my son from school. He had been suspended again. For the first time this year, but not for the first time. The back-to-school honeymoon was over. The push-back, normalcy, had begun.

As I drove through the mottled autumn sunshine, crisp, brown leaves intermittently sailing across the road, I felt, acutely, my age. My motherhood. The weight of having a child with Asperger Syndrome. The almost crushing sense of responsibility and painful now-ness of dealing with the issue at hand.

Spiritually, I am always striving to “be present in the moment.” And yet some moments, like that in which I felt the collective burden of all of my 15,679 days, I would like to have over with as quickly as possible.

My iPod was playing a track from “No Jacket Required,” which sounded as pristine through my car stereo as it did when it was released in 1985. When I was thirteen.  But all the gorgeous imperfect perfection of Phil Collins’ voice from thirty years ago couldn’t transport me out of my presence. The middle school came inexorably closer as I slid along the winding, tree-lined road, not even dreading. Just being. Heavily.

I am not someone who spends energy morbidly reflecting on my age, the passage of time, mortality, or any of the rest of it. But in that moment of awareness yesterday, I recognized that I will never again be thirteen. I will always be the mother of a special needs child. Even when he is an adult. I don’t know what will happen to him in the future. And when I start to think about his future, I am quickly choked with panic bordering on despair so I have to stop. Not out of denial. Out of practicality. I’m of no use to my son when I am operating from a place of fear.

Today, I am 42.93 years old. I don’t feel them right now. I just feel like a mom who fiercely loves her son, and is willing to do whatever it takes to help him be successful and happy in life, whatever that may look like for him.  I am enjoying the gently scudding clouds in the blue sky outside my window, the cool autumn temperatures and vibrant color, my hot coffee and warm apple slices. I am grateful to have had time and energy to talk with my son’s clinic nurse, and his strong, supportive school staff as we all collaborate to meet his needs.

I am content to be present in this moment.


  1. I can't imagine how challenging it is to parent a special-needs child. Yet it sounds like you are doing the very best you know how to do - which is all anyone could ever ask. Still, it has to be hard. I feel for you. Hug.

  2. I'm so glad you got to dance in the 80's - that's something that can never be taken away from you, RFM. No Jacket Required. Blessings from Wisconsin, E.