He Wasn’t There

I went to a baseball game last night with some work associates – no kids, no spouse. This isn’t really something new – I’ve been to three games without my Herd this year. The difference last night was being at the Park here at home without my Herd. That’s never happened before. I had an amazing time, but it also felt a little weird.

Here’s the deal – when I’m at Petco Park, watching a game, I’m used to Little Man being there, and all the attendant stuff that comes with bringing an autistic child to a baseball game. When he’s there, we have his iPad or iPhone, ear buds,  and noise cancelling headphones. We make sure before we leave the house everything is charged up completely.  We feed him. We promise him snacks. We know at some point in the game, he’s likely going to need a break, which, as when we go see a movie in the theater, usually means a trip to the bathroom, a step away from all the stimulation near the field. It means we are paying attention to every pitch as he has a crazy fear of being hit by a foul ball, but not enough so he pays attention himself, his head buried in whatever technology he has, or whatever food he’s partaking. Some might ask why we bring him out into a situation we have to manage so much. There are so many reasons…..1) We selfishly refuse to let his autism keep our family from enjoying the activities we enjoy; 2) It’s kind of a form of therapy to put him in these situations; 3) He’s come an extremely long way since he was diagnosed, and we know we need to prepare him for the adult social world; 4) In his own way, he does enjoy it.

I don’t know about the ballparks where you live, but when the Padres hit a homerun at Petco, there are fireworks, fire/flames, loud music, lights flashing, and LOTS of cheering. Little Man HATES fireworks – hates the noise of them. He particularly hates the surprise of them – when they aren’t expected, as well as not knowing exactly when the “Boom!” is coming. The flashing lights freak him out. The over-the-top crowd noise after a homerun is overwhelming to him. Needless to say,  he really hates when the Padres hit a homerun. I’ve gotten used to needing to grab him and wrap him up, hands holding his headphones even tighter over his ears, trying my best to keep all the stimulation to a minimum, and give him that tight space that seems to comfort him. It’s a gut reaction anymore…homerun = immediate action on my part for him.

The Padres hit two home runs last night. Both times, I jerked, ready to take care of my Little Man as usual. I quickly remembered he wasn’t there, and took a breath, just enjoying the moment, being part of the celebration rather than trying to protect my child from something that was too much for him. I don’t ever, for one single second, regret taking him out to ballgames nor any other experience we help him through. But I do have to say, it was so nice to not have to have that knee-jerk reaction, to relax and have fun along with everyone else.

I’ve realized that being an autism mom is just part of who I am anymore. As his autism doesn’t define him, being an autism mom doesn’t define me, it’s just part of who I am. The  only difference is, sometimes I get to let go of that part of me. He will never have that opportunity. But I know he will learn to manage out in the world.

How we do baseball……

Rollin

Holy wow – After that ridiculously long countdown to real summer, we have just two weeks before the Herd heads back to school. (insert bad words here) Where in the ever lovin where did summer go?

We’ve had an incredibly busy, super fun summer, but it has flown by. We’ve rolled from one thing right into the next, or at least I have. School finally ended for Little Man. The following Monday, he started tech camp. Big Man and the Princess were never really “off” as – I may have mentioned this before – high school sports continue to practice through summer. The last day of tech camp, we went to the showcase presentation, and then hit the road for Palm Springs. We spent four glorious days poolside, hanging out with our friends and neighbors who joined us, eating, drinking, sunbathing, reading, playing games, and golfing.  It was HOT, but we don’t care when we’re there. We’re in or right next to the pool all day long.

I was home for 1.5 days, then left for my summer scrapbooking retreat in  Big Bear. In four days there, I managed to finish my 2015 book, as well as our Spring Break Utah trip book. (pats self on back) It was much-needed momma time with friends. We walked by the lake each morning, talked, ate, laughed, and scrapbooked. The only bummer was our usual massage therapist wasn’t able to be there due to injury. I’d so been looking forward to that 90-minute massage. Sigh….other than that, it was a beautiful weekend.

After Big Bear, I spent three days running around like a crazed person, getting the house ready for a cousin invasion. Nine of them began arriving on Wednesday. They trickled in until Saturday, when we had everyone here. Did I mention that was also recital weekend? Yeah, that. We had five fun-filled, busy days. Oh, I won’t lie – we did take plenty of time to sit in or next to our pool, but we were definitely on the go for much of the time.

The day after cousins left, my bestie and her four teens arrived for a week-long visit. We didn’t really stop from the minute they arrived, but oh my…..so much fun! We forget how awesome our city is until people are here and we’re taking them all over. We hit Mission Beach, they kayaked La Jolla Cove, we went to the movies, spent a day in Coronado (on the beach and at the beach bar at the Hotel Del where there was a Norman Reedus (aka Daryl from Walking Dead) sighting (it was ComiCon weekend in San Diego and a bunch of stars were staying at the Hotel), watched the ponies race in Del Mar, golfed our club (K and I rode along while our spouses golfed), went wine tasting in Ramona (you get premium service when your FIL is the President of the Ramona Valley Vintner Association), and took in a Padres game. Yes, all of that. The day they left, I had a work event. I got home that evening and absolutely crashed.

This is the longest break we’ve had all summer……and I leave tomorrow for five days in Chicago. More fun…..a day a Lollapalooza, some beach time if the weather permits, and a Cubs game, not to mention more time (sans children this visit) with the bestie! Then I’ll be home for two days before we leave for a long weekend at my parents’ in Phoenix. We’re home from that trip for two days and the kids go back to school.

Are you tired? Cuz I’m tired. We’ve blasted through this summer, rollin from one fun thing to the next. I think I need a summer to recover from this summer. We’ve had pool time, bbq’s, baseball games, beach days, and movies. We’ve spent time with family and friends. We’ve soaked it all in, taking full advantage of every minute. I can’t believe it’s ending in two weeks, and we’ll be in for another long haul of a school year. I’ll put the pool towels and basket of sunscreen away, tuck the beach chairs onto their hooks in the garage, stow the cornhole game in its case, and say goodbye to summer 2017.