It’s been quite a week. My younger son, now nine, was formally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome a few days ago. Finally. It’s a relief to have the formal diagnosis, since it gives us some direction when trying to help him interpret and understand the world. Appointments are already lining up: a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a social skills group are all finding spots on the calendar, and having a formal diagnosis greases the wheels needed to get that support.
So if I’m so relieved, why can’t I sleep? Why do I feel, even more than a few weeks ago, that I’m depleted and ready to go to bed by 4 pm? Why is my patience so short with my children, just at the time I should find deeper tolerance and acceptance for their universe-given quirks? And, above all, why me?
Why not me? It’s the sort of question, as a divorced mom with a kid with ADHD and a bad case of being 13 and another kid with AS, both homeschooling, that anyone might be prone to ask. I’m not a believer in karma in the formal sense, although I do think giving positive energy via attitude and action, compassion and unconditional love, does good for more than the receiver and giver. But times like this make me wonder. Did I do so well in a previous life that I was deemed to handle all this? Or did I do so poorly the last time around that I’m receiving challenges to strengthen my being?
It’s not really worth long consideration, given I don’t hold to reincarnation. Perhaps it’s the concern that I could come back in much more trying form the next time around: a mother in subsaharan Africa with five mouths to feed, HIV, and the constant risk of become a political refuge; a girl from a multitude of countries sold into the sex trade before puberty; a head of beef cattle living my short life on a factory farm up to my cow knees in my own excrement. You get the picture. Besides, the reincarnation thing just seems too neat and tidy. And I can’t see how it takes into account the ever-changing number of living things on the planet. Or perhaps one could reincarnate elsewhere in the universe? Too muddy and full of details for me. But still, I sometimes wonder why me, then think, why not me?
I’ve always maintained that I’d never change another person’s troubles for my own. As challenging as I find my life sometimes, it’s mine, and I kinda get it, from the quirky kids to the temperamental hot water tank. I know my stuff. And while I know my path so far has made me who I am today (and I’m basically okay with that person, except in those fleeting moments of crushing self-doubt), I wouldn’t have minded a few less obstacle in the past few years. It’s a bit of a downfall to a faith without a deity and a comfortable stance on the uncertainty of what happens after death: there’s just no higher power to ask nor to whom to wail and gnash teeth. Placing faith in the universe and the love we create when we’re compassionate beings has its upsides, but one-to-one conversation with the powers that be (and that’s my sticking point) are a bit of a loss.
Enough whining. I’ve been vamping with my younger for so many years, nine and half, to be precise. Now I have a label that offers a path. I know there’s no cure and the path is still full of washed out roads, rocks, and (my worst) snakes, but at least I’m not on my own in the wilderness brandishing my machete in virgin jungle. There’s relief in that, respite even, however brief. As far as we’ve traveled, there’s so much more ahead of us. Asperger Syndrome isn’t going to disappear at 18, although he’ll likely learn skills that help him navigate what he admits is a pretty odd world for him. And as we go, I’ll hold to unconditional love, radical inclusivity, and compassion to guide us through this universe in which I place my trust.