For the last 30 minutes I’ve listened to repeated questioning from a 4 year old. Mum, does this do that? Mum are these batteries good? Mum, if I just climb up here can I fly? Mum, why have you got books in here? She’s desperately trying to get my attention and initiate some form of interaction from me. Loudly.
The questioning has now stopped and the Running commentary has begun. As she sits and draws a picture next to me she describes what she’s drawing and how. Neatly of course. My interactions are half hearted and enough to pacify her but it makes me feel guilty. I want to be cheerful, have a fun, full on special time of colouring in and laughter but I can’t.
I’m an emotional wreck today and can’t describe why. My 45 minute rant to family included housework, lack of respect and many other issues. I don’t know which tipped me over the edge, to sob uncontrollably into the sofa, to walk off whilst yelling at the adults around. Maybe it’s the fact that this past week has been intense with CAMHS, GP, schools and other agencies. Maybe it’s seeing my daughter going through a bad time with her anxiety. Maybe it’s the fact I had fried egg and it was inconveniently touching the rim of the plate. I don’t know.
What I do know though is that I am fortunate to have a space. A space that I have claimed as my own. I don’t have a bedroom due to other circumstances but I do have a sofa and a room where I can close the door on the world. A space for me to chill, reflect, cry, hum, fart, drink tea…be me really. There’s no TV, no music, it’s quiet and I like that.
It came about after realising that the children are given space to calm down, fantastic mood lighting, soft furnishings with great textures and just a space to unwind when their frustrations are too much. But I needed a space too. Autism doesn’t stop when you become an adult.
So why isn’t my space working today? My lovely 4 year old is still talking to me. She’s now head deep in a drawer and emptying it of its contents. Quizzing me about every single item. I’ve managed a few smiles and answered some of her queries. She’s trying so hard bless her. I love her so much and I feel so guilty.
In the other room is the one person who I have called on to help. Who I’ve explained to that I need to be on my own for a while. In different ways I’ve said I need some space. The crying and sobbing as well as the talking through snot spitting sniffles for 45 minutes was a big clue. Even if that clue wasn’t understood I’ve just been and explained that I entered my space because the world is too much for me today. He assumed I wanted company.
And yet even after explaining this assumption was wrong, I am still sat here trying to not let my little one feel the turmoil my head is going through.
I’m trying to breathe slowly, make myself feel grounded by now lying on the rug. I’ve got the blanket wrapped around me like a cocoon. She’s now combing my hair with a nit comb that was at the bottom of the drawer. I love her.
Maybe my space is working. She made me giggle not just smile. I’ve said more than a few words to her and gave her a hug. It could be that I love her so much and am too much of a good mother to say that mummy needs her space. But not once has the one person I needed to look after her while I calmed down, not once did he come through and distract her. That is why I couldn’t turn her away. If she is comfortable to share my space while I calm down, to interact with me in her usual bubbly yet bossy self then I am glad she stayed. Talked at me through the silences and entertained herself with my hidden nik naks and nit comb.
Maybe I’ll have to push everything back down deep, soldier on and do the ironing, get the Sunday roast ready. Maybe I can explode tonight once they’re all in bed and quietly cry myself to sleep. Maybe one day those around me will realise that I need space too. That doesn’t mean someone to keep me company. It means space. With a blanket and a cuppa and my own quietness to reflect in. Maybe one day.