This week marked yet another new chapter in your journey. You became an “Owlsome” 2nd grader at our favorite Oakview Elementary School. The new school year brought some unexpected emotions for me, and the all too familiar anxiety of starting a new routine for you.
Allow me to explain.
I feel like it was just yesterday that Clara and then Gabe were each entering the second grade. Both burned into my memory for the pure fact that when this grade came around for both of them, ironically, they were entering new schools (Clara’s first day of 2nd grade was at a new school when we first moved to Texas,
and Gabe’s first day of 2nd grade was just a few years ago when we moved back to NC,
we've moved a lot!). With this came some very excited, but anxious kiddos that needed parental pep talks of reassurance before embarking on their new year at new schools!
Fast forward to this week where it’s now your turn. The only difference for you is that you’re are a veteran at your school now (3rd year in a row as an Oakview Owl!), so one would think the transition would be smoother – unfortunately not.
I found myself navigating new territory of thought and emotions as you started school this year. Most often I’m worried about bullies and anxious for your stress that will inevitably come with the newness of the whole scene and routine. This year, however, I mostly felt guilt, hope, and sadness, none of which leaves me feeling like mother of the year because of it.
You see Ad, I'm a strong believer that we sometimes face mountains to prove that we can move them, but these days I feel like I may be lacking the appropriate equipment to do so. While we strive to find the positives and appreciate the blessings in every single day (because every day DOES have them), we’ve had some really challenging weeks lately and honestly, it’s just been hard.
Is it just growing, or sensing the change and disruption in our day to day to come? I don’t know, maybe it’s both - or who knows, maybe it’s something completely different. Whatever it is has left you quite angry and irritable, and me feeling guilty for counting down the days when school would begin. I felt guilty for needing a minute of not having you scream at me, and guilt for not knowing how to make things better for you.
I am your mother, I know you best, but I’ve felt lost at every turn on what to do lately. Just recently we were in the car and you were having a complete meltdown, I mean sweating, drooling screaming the whole nine yards. I had forgotten something at home and needed to drop Clara and Gabe at soccer practice (with Nana because she was visiting). Quick – lets run home and come right back! Fun fact, you have bouts of separation anxiety, and not just for mommy and daddy, but with everyone in our family.
You were clearly not OK with this plan of leaving Clara and Gabe at soccer, and it just about threw you over the edge! You screamed and cried the whole way home until you were literally hoarse. Anything I said or did just seemed to make it worse, and you grew louder. So, with tears filling in my eyes, feeling like I really wanted to scream too, I turned the radio up. I hated myself for doing it, but we were stuck in a situation that you clearly needed to work through independently. Sure enough when we got home you ran upstairs to your swing and managed to decompress for a few minutes before we headed back to soccer only this time as a much happier, calmer version of yourself.
I just didn’t seem to have the answers you needed for the calm you were so desperately seeking. I’m not exactly equipped with a pop-up swing to use anywhere for decompression if needed! I felt guilty for needing a break and guilt that your teachers may have to suffer this type of wrath very soon. Its all part of the cycle.
But with all the guilt came hope. Hope that this new school routine would bring you a sense of grounding and calm. I think you’ve had enough spontaneity the last few months and are ready to welcome our robotic lifestyle back to our day to day lives of routine.
As your first day was upon us, I felt a bit of sadness that you didn’t care to take part in picking out what you wanted to wear like Clara and Gabe so excitingly did at your age. Instead, you were completely stressed out and angry the moment you realized it was now your turn to head off to school (we had a bit of a staggered entry into the new school year with all of you being at different schools). In all this, you even managed to visit timeout twice before even leaving the house, and our obligatory first day of school photo was as real as it could be with you sitting on the floor, giving your best attempt to boycott the day ahead.
I know in my heart this phase will pass. Deep breaths Addie, deep breaths mommy.
We made it out the door and I’m happy to report, that each day this week has shown improvement and we are no longer boycotting leaving the house. Now it doesn’t mean we are out of the irritability woods just yet, but we may be on the right trail at least.
So, this week we started a new chapter and were challenged with working through the day to day adjustments of it all. It’s in this chapter that I was reminded of how stressful transitions are, we’re only human, autism is hard, and it’ll all be ok in the end.
Deep breaths baby girl. Next week will be more familiar and a little less stressful. It will get easier, I promise!
Your family and teachers love you. We’ll get through this one day at a time.