See those clothes tossed on the floor of the bathroom? Mine. See that plate by the side of the sink? Also mine. See that movie of “Sex in the City-2” in the DVD player- MINE, ALL MINE!
For 24 hours I am alone- ALONE… all aloooone… and I’m reveling in it. Reveling. Even though I know that it comes at a cost…
James and Ray are in Boston for the weekend, visiting Yiayia- like we did last month– only without all of us, without Emily, without the whole touristy thing. But the most important part- visiting Yiayia- they’re doing that! Oh yes- they’re doing that.
Elizabeth… Elizabeth is at Emily’s birthday party- which is where the price for my aloneness will be paid. Elizabeth is spending the night with Emily and Tracy down at Emily’s grandparents’ house out in the country- grandparents who do not “get it”- and Emily’s dad, who definitely does not “get it”. And Elizabeth is in her singsongy “NO” place…
I almost didn’t let her go. Last night, we took Emily and Tracy out to see Harry Potter last night- a movie that Elizabeth knew would be scary, but as she put it “I can tell everyone I saw it”! The “coolness” factor seriously outweighed the fear factor. I was amused that she is so aware by watching the 4th graders to know what would gain her conversation points- that she was willing to take on the fear in order to be “cool”. Very 4th grade of her. I went along to mediate the fear and to translate, since Elizabeth has a hard time with accents and movie dialogue anyways. If Harry Potter was a way she could buy coolness points, I was willing to fund that.
And it wasn’t bad- we sat on the side, where it’s easy to stare at curtains to detract from the movie, and because it was so crowded, Elizabeth’s constant questions to me were less noticeable. I did my usual running dialogue/translation with her that we do in most movies at home, and it wasn’t particularly bad- the whole movie was so loud that we could talk just under it. I think it was a good movie- I spent so much time translating, I lost most of the “magic”… Emily and Tracy had a good time. It was a good time!
But this morning… the strain of holding it together around her friends and in the movie caught up to her, and she was tired and irritable and singsongy- where every request was met with a “No” and followed up by a “nononono” with her hands over her ears. She didn’t want to eat, but she was fixated on going with Emily and Tracy- on not being left out.
Elizabeth and Tracy came over early and came with us on our errands before they left- I had to get Emily a present, and a trip to spend her Old Navy gift certificate was the choice. One sweater for Emily later, (all right and yes, a darling hot pink lightweight pea coat for Elizabeth- it WAS on sale!) I also bought the three girls each a stuffed dog at PetSmart because they were $5 and benfitted the Humane Society. Emily named her dog “Fluffybottoms”, while Tracy named hers “Stuffybottoms”. They were making similarly-themed suggestions to Elizabeth, who refused to name her dog. “Nononono“, she chanted. I smoothed things over with a “Perhaps later… but not everything has to be named” such-a-mom-statement.
When we got home, we packed Elizabeth up, which was a challenge. She didn’t want to take pajamas- I can wear this!- and she didn’t want to take her warmer coat that can get dirty- I want my NEW COAT!- and she was already in tears “Emily and Tracy are making fun of me!” because of the eye rolling- eye rolling that I wanted to do too. “Baby, do you want to stay home with me?” I offered in a private moment- an offer I had been making throughout last night. “We can watch movies (NOT Sex in the City- I was offering up… gulp-Hannah Montana), and just be… you are welcome to stay here, you know.” “Nonononono!” she sang. “It’s Emily’s birthday party and I can’t miss that!”
And I sent her across the street to Emily’s waiting truck, with a last note of “If she gets cranky, feed her” to Emily’s dad, and a feeling of trepidation mixed with deep sadness, and worry, and.. all right, I’ll admit it, a touch of glee (Glee’s on my To Watch list as well for tonight). But mostly worry…
I know the cost. I know that there will be new problems that arise. I worry that that gains we’ve made will be damaged- that the friendships that I consciously try to mediate- and occasionally bribe- will be broken. Elizabeth is intense at any time, but with her challenges being particularly strong today, and around grownups who do not understand- maybe I should have kept her home.
Or maybe it was all right- that she’s almost-10 and needs to strike out on her own, knowing that Mama is there right behind her to mop up what every happens. That she can have a challenging weekend, and come home where it’s everything is all right.
So for 24 hours, I am going to revel in that I am alone, that I will blast MY music loudly; that I will watch what I want to watch, that I will go out to eat with a girlfriend tonight, that I will sleep in late, that I will listen to the silence. I will enjoy my 24 hours without autism, without Tourette’s, without being someone’s picker-upper, reminder, shusher, mediator, driver, or cleaner- or someone’s soother, hugger, discusser, or comforter.
I will gladly pick back up all of those jobs tomorrow- after 24 hours.