The Pickle’s development has always been a major factor of his autism. It was the first sign to me that something was different.
For example, when the Pickle was born, and up until he was a year old, he hit his developmental milestones without any issues. He smiled, he sat up, he learned to use his hands, started to crawl, even babbled! Then when he turned 1, it changed. He wasn’t developing properly any more. He was barely learning to speak. And I kept waiting and waiting, but the progress was slow. Painfully slow. And it was odd. He could say mummy, but he didn’t say it to me. It didn’t seem to have any relevance in our relationship. He never called out to me in the morning when he woke in his cot. Mummy was just a word with no meaning.
The Pickle can go for a very long time without making any noticeable developments at all. Then all of a sudden, he starts to do new things! Usually three or four new things! It’s always nothing for ages, then suddenly an unexpected leap with something! And everyone is so amazed and impressed and says how things are changing and looking up. I get to experience a million proud mummy moments all at once and I feel high! Delirious. I’m walking on clouds. I exhuberate happiness and confidence in everything I do. I am so proud and in awe of my son that I could burst. I have energy, I do more. I am more.
Then over time, things go back to “normal”. The new skills become normal. And the gaps start to show again. There is a long stretch of time where nothing really happens. Of course there’s speech & language therapy, constant daily repetitive teaching, intensive interaction, but it’s all a bit…. slow.
I had a really bad couple of weeks recently. You can read about it here. I’m coming out the other side and I’ve decided to do some soul-searching and reflection. What I’ve noticed is that my mood seems to reflect the Pickle’s developmental stages.
After a month or so of feeling like we’ve achieved very little, my mood starts to drop. I begin to gradually lose my energy and focus. Things upset me more easily. I feel that nobody understands. I become anxious, irritable, sad, impatient. After a few months, my emotions start to overwhelm me. I cry. I think I’m depressed. I think I’m a bad mum. I wonder if I should get some help. Things feel like they’ll never get better. It creeps up on me and then bang! I’m there. I’m everything I don’t want to be.
Then suddenly we have a Pinecone moment!
And I’m walking on clouds again.
Some further reflection now…. I don’t think this pattern of behaviour is acceptable, healthy or right for me and my son. I’ve always been very up and down with my moods, I’ve been depressed in the past. However that doesn’t make it ok. Making the decision to become a mother meant it stopped being all about me, and I need to find the strength to take control. I’m going to try so hard to break this pattern and I think the first step is recognising and understanding it. The Pickle needs me to be positive and strong for him, not a fair-weather mummy who is only happy when he is doing well. I love him SO much. He is my life. He needs to know that I will always be there for him to lean on, no matter what stage he is at or what he is doing. I am the person he solely relies on to help him make sense of the world. I have a huge responsibility to him that goes way beyond my hormones and personal feelings.
So I’m going to start working on this. Today. Now. Because just by being my son, the Pickle has taught me so much about life. About patience, expectations and endless possibilites. About finding joy and love in the strangest of places. About being a human being. And I am a much better person for knowing him. He has bad days and bad moods, but they are based on a frustration that comes from not being able to understand or cope with the world he lives in. He never judges the progress I’m making as his mother, so why am I judging him? He’s just a child. I am an adult.
By the way… my dream of two years ago that felt so unachievable, came true. The Pickle now knows that I am his Mummy. He comes to his bedroom door in the morning and calls out to me. “Hey-yo Mummy. Hey-yo Mummy”. He says my name repeatedly to get my attention, or if I’m not there and he’s missing me. It’s not just a word anymore, it’s become true. And it’s time for me to start giving it the justification it deserves and step up to the job I’ve been given. Throughout all the leaps & bounds and ups & downs. I will take each day at a time, and I will get there. I owe it to him.
Dedicated to Pickle, love from your Mummy. x