Life in progress


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My mother, my basement, and my eye – Is 2019 over yet?

So let’s start with my mum. I haven’t written an update on her for a while.

She’s still in the hospital, even though her pneumonia is cleared up. For a while there she was so lethargic and unwilling to move that the doctor told me it was likely her dementia’s progression, and that she’d never get better. So last week, on her 89th birthday in fact, we had a meeting with the hospital’s discharge planner, the head nurse from her retirement home, and myself. My mother refused to get up and walk, so it was decided that I needed to start looking for nursing homes. She wouldn’t even lift her hand to feed herself.

I explained it all to her when the meeting was over, and it was as though a switch flipped. The next day she was up walking.

It took a few days, but I convinced them to go back and reassess. Yay! I thought. She’d be able to go back and live somewhat independently! But no, now her ankle is swollen and she can’t put any weight on it. The x-ray turned up nothing, so gout, maybe? The good news is she’s more alert and less confused than I’ve seen her in a long time, probably due to not smoking for a month.

And even better, she seems to have forgotten that cigarettes exist. She hasn’t asked for one in three weeks.

Fast forward to yesterday morning, I was sitting in the living room with Alex (who was supposed to go to his dad’s this weekend but didn’t–it’ll be at least 2 months again before I have a break), when my eldest son came upstairs and said he thought a pipe had burst. There was water under his desk in his room.

When I got down there, half the basement was flooded. All the cardboard boxes on the floor and everything in them, I figured, was ruined. Turned out it wasn’t the whole basement once we got stuff moved, but the leak had been ongoing for some time. The stuff that was ruined was really bad. The good news is I think we’ve managed to plug up the hole, which is half-way down the wall in the concrete behind an electrical outlet. The bad news is mold.

Fast forward again to this morning. The windy weather made Alex decide he wouldn’t get dressed to go to school. So we did our usual dance when he’s misbehaving, him screaming at me and punching me and me ignoring him the best I can until he complies. Which he always does, eventually, and usually with minimal damage until this morning when he decided to hit me in the side of the head with his sock. It wouldn’t have hurt except he got me in the eye. My only good eye. The other one is legally blind.

So I’m off to the eye doctor today, just to make sure there’s no serious injury. The sock in question was one he’d worn before, and I think he had it on downstairs yesterday. Nothing like an infection to ruin your entire life …

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

The bright side? Alex actually went to school today on the bus, even though there’s snow. Keeping my fingers crossed we’ll finally have a full week of school, the first one this year.

 


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Missing the Magical Switch

Greater, more successful writers than myself (not a stretch) state that in order to be a writer one must dedicate one’s effort into writing: a writer must write. Here lies my conundrum.

I have no qualms over calling myself a writer. It’s what I do constantly – if I’m not physically typing on a keyboard or writing little notes, I’m composing something in my head with hopes that I’ll remember it.

But being a single mom, 80% responsible for two kids (meaning that I get to sleep 15% of the time and the other 5% is when their dad takes care of them) and having to be always within calling distance of my own mother, I don’t have time to write. What might take me three months more of full-time editing on my novel to render it publishable is, at the rate I’m going, bound to take me three years. Frustrated doesn’t begin to describe it.

I imagine there is, somewhere in the universe, a switch that can be flicked which could cause me to be able to stop merely calling myself a writer and become one. I realize that I cannot expect to ever take on a full-time job; my life is with my children, and taking care of them is apparently my job and mine alone. Would I want it any other way? Absolutely not.

Yet writing is also my life. I don’t live for my children – anyone who says they do, in my opinion, is in for a huge let-down when their kids leave home for good. I live for myself and I am a writer. I have a story that I feel needs to be told, of a world where I hope one day people will be able to escape, as I have. It’s inside me, it’s on my screen and it’s on paper, and all it wants is to be polished to a bright, shiny tale that many will love.

If only the magical switch to make it all come true wasn’t so far out of my reach.


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Constant

Never a dull moment, they say. And here, in my life, it’s true.

I just walked into the room which houses my main household computer to find a hole in the wall. My autistic son has learned not to put his fist through the window, it seems. That was so two years ago. And now there is one more thing to add to the list of repairs on my house.

We’ve been through the behavioural training. I’ve been told over and over again to ignore the behaviour I don’t like and pay attention and praise the behaviour I wish to continue. But I can’t be with him all the time. This is what happens, apparently, when I ignore the yelling. Most of the time it actually works. Once in a while, I pay the consequences.

It’s an ongoing struggle. I’m sad to think that I might not always be able to take care of him on my own, but it’s a fact I have to face. He needs the influence of a man in his life – he’s eighteen years old. I don’t have one for him, and his father not only lives elsewhere, but that elsewhere is now hours away instead of across town where he lived up until this summer.

Sometimes I feel like I do nothing. I can spend hours some days, just writing. Other days I’m completely overwhelmed. Least of all is the stress of not knowing what’s coming next.

Such is life with an autistic child…. adult.