The summer had a rocky start as well as a rocky middle, but as we go into the last month and I prepare to go back to full-time work and the girls prepare to ramp up their studies to include all the relevant subjects, I can at least say with confidence that the end of summer is so much better than the beginning or the middle.
It's not fair to paint the last two months in a negative light, though. Much about them was good; I was just too tired and too sad to see the good clearly. Looking back, I can see it. The kids had a wonderful summer, and are happy and healthy. That alone is enough for me.
I finally found a term for those episodes of sadness involving Bobby--chronic sorrow--and have been reading Susan Roos's book on it. It's helped me recognize the universality of the episodes, that they are normal, expected, and reasonable. That makes it easier to tuck it back into the box in my mind that I keep it in. Plus, my son's happiness makes that sorrow all the more unnecessary. It's a clinical work, Susan Roos's book, and it's one that may have parents and individuals occasionally wincing, as chronic sorrow was first elaborated in relation to parents of significantly developmentally delayed children. Here in autism land we're supposed to be past that--how dare we grieve publicly and give voice to our sorrow? Or, heaven forbid, voice jealousy?
It's one of those things that makes the chronic sorrow a person's feeling even heavier as guilt is added to it. Look, it's entirely reasonable for me to look at my son at 23 and feel sorrow that he's not experiencing the things that other 23 year olds are. It's NOT reasonable for me to wallow in and make him feel like crap. He honestly doesn't know any other normal than his. And it's that realization--it's his normal and he's happy, he's satisfied with his life, that makes me okay again, happy for him. We have to learn to not compare. It's not fair to anyone.
I suspect the sorrow weighed so heavily because Lily has moved forward to being his helper, his reminder. She does it with hand on hip, but not meanly, and my son is relieved that he has someone who can help him navigate the day. And I feel a weight lifted now that I'm not the only one helping Bob navigate. If they're both happy with this paradigm shift, then who am I to feel sorrow over it?
The three of them got along well this summer, had animated, interesting conversations about anime, movies, books, philosophical questions, and even discussed ancient history, with Bobby impressing us all with how much he remembers and remembers correctly about ancient Egyptian history, making me feel satisfied that all those years working with him truly did leave a mark. They also talked about their futures, with Bobby telling Lil to be ready for when he was in a wheelchair and wouldn't be able to do litter or walk the dogs. Her rejoinder--they'd have only one animal--a house-trained dog.
The summer is coming to an end with me coming out of my depression (admitting I needed to increase my antidepressant and then doing so made a huge difference in how my body felt), tucking that chronic sorrow away, and looking forward to what the fall will bring.
I suspect I may even have the energy to make my hair pink again finally, having remained red haired for several months now--which is totally not like me.