“You’re well and truly in the parenting trenches now, but don’t worry, it will get easier.”
Words to this effect were said to me countless times after I had my third baby. In the days before my eldest daughter’s autism diagnosis. When we thought her behavioural problems were driven by lack of sleep, and that was driven by a gastro issue that a magic doctor would come along and disappear for us.
Three kids? Really?
Most people thought we were nuts having a third baby, and I myself wondered at the time how on earth we’d cope, when two kids already felt like too many some days. Then after he was born, and we were properly ‘in the trenches’, I wasted more energy than I had spare wondering when we would turn the elusive corner and get the hell out of them.
It’s coming up to our one year anniversary for Polly’s high functioning autism diagnosis, and to say it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions would be as big an understatement as saying that Prince was ‘a bit of a legend’. I’ve learnt lots, mostly through truly listening to my girl, and working out what she needs.
Thing is, it’s damn hard being Polly!
This little girl who is obsessed with all things Frozen but can’t watch the film because it’s ‘too scary’.
The same girl who is frightened of Mary Poppins because of ‘her powers’.
Big sister who gets so frustrated when her brother and sister are playing nicely without her that she simply has to destroy their game, and give them a little dig while she’s at it.
This small child who can switch from being ecstatically happy to meltdown angry in the space of five seconds.
This gorgeous girl who has so much love to give, but often has a funny way of showing it.
As I sat on the edge of her bed this evening, watching her finally give it up and go to sleep, it hit me, once again, just how hard it is being her. My beautiful girl, who seems so ‘normal’ to everyone else. You would never know she is autistic unless you knew, and I don’t know if this is a good thing.
Being her mum is no walk in the park, but being her is so much harder.
The only way I can describe our life is by saying that we’re in the trenches, and it will not be getting easier any time soon.
BUT! This is the hand that we were dealt. I for one am going to (wo)man up, and in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, start properly kicking the shit out of Plan B.
For her, for them, for me.
With tenacity. Strength. And a whole lot of love.