Fast forward to the present time. My time has not been "my own" for so long that I can hardly remember what that felt like. If I wanted to go to work early now, too bad! Not just am I a slave to the bus pick up time, I feel like I am a slave to each of their individual moods and tempermants. I feel like I never really know what will set someone off to have a full-blown meltdown, the kind where the child has thrown himself on the floor sobbing because ______. Yeah, it's the fill-in-the-blank part that makes it so tough. Maybe it's the fact that someone's library book is not where they thought it was and now they just have to find it or they'll get in trouble. Or someone has decided that they are "too sick" to go to school and is just going to flat out refuse to get dressed. Or maybe someone turned off the TiVo accidentally the night before, which means there is a possiblity it will make a strange, apparently terrifying noise if it gets turned on now. Never mind that we are not going to turn it on until after school, the thought that it MIGHT make that strange noise is enough to suddenly make it impossible for someone to even come down the steps.
The boys are both on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum. The girl is six going on thirteen with all the moods associated with being a teenager. This is an example of a typical morning:
I get up. As I walk out of my room into the bathroom I tell the kids (all three are in front of the heating vent in the boys' room) to put their books down and get dressed. I wash up in the bathroom and come out about ten minutes later. I again tell the kids to put their books down and get dressed. This time I actually go over and remove the
Me: Twin B, move away from your brother and get dressed. (He ignores me and begins to try to make his brother laugh.) Twin B, go NOW. (He reluctantly leaves his brother, still teasingly saying things like, "Is that a smile I see? C'mon, I think it is!")
Me: Twin A, take a breath. (He stops screaming and attempts to take a deep breath.) And again. (He is able to take a deeper breath this time, but has begun making a new noise that sounds almost like a high-pitched speed boat is taking off - b,b,b,b,b . . .) When you're calm, I can talk to you. (The noise slowly stops.) Okay, now as soon as you are dressed down to your shoes, come downstairs and you can keep looking at your book.
Twin A: Okay, Mommy! (He now speaks in a cheerful, bright voice, the tantrum completely behind him)
I continue on into my bedroom and begin getting dressed. As soon as I put down the towel, the door begins opening.
Me: Please KNOCK FIRST!
The door shuts and someone knocks on the other side.
Me: Hang on a moment! (I grab my towel again and open the door to see The Princess standing there, still in her pajamas. I just KNEW it had been too easy with her!)
The Princess: I sick. (Yes, she's six, but she has started this annoying habit of talking as if she was two.)
Me: (After feeling her head) Nope, you're a cool as a cucumber. Go get dressed.
At which point The Princess throws herself to the floor, sobbing that I don't understand, that she's sick, she just CAN'T go to school, why am I being so mean, etc.
I shut the door, finished getting dressed, and step out of my room again. I give The Princess a warning that if she doesn't stop screaming and gets dressed, she will have a time out. She calls my bluff, so into her room she goes. Even with the door shut, I still hear her sobbing all sorts of things about how mean I am and that she really is sick and how she doesn't understand why I just can't stay home with her. Guilt, guilt, guilt. And before you all start calling Children and Family Services on me, please understand that if she was actually sick, I would make the arrangements neccessary to stay home with her. However, to keep things fair for everyone, my rule is no fever = no staying home from school.
I poke my head in the boys' room to see that Twin A has gotten distracted once again by another book. I take that one away but am able to nip the tantrum in the bud. Twin B is putting on his shoes at this point. I head downstairs and begin getting breakfast.
On the one hand I feel kind of bad to even somewhat complain about this. It took us five years to finally conceive our twins. Had I read something like this back when we were trying to get me pregnant, I would have thought, "You ungrateful @#$%! I would trade lives with you in a second if it meant I could finally get the chance to be a mom." And I am so grateful that I HAVE children and am a mother.
On the other hand . . . .
It is nice to daydream once in a while that time is my own again. And I know, before I know it, they will be grown and out of the house, and I can have as much of my own time as I want. But for now, today, after another morning of running around the house trying to keep all three of them on target, meltdown-free, and ready to get out the door in time to catch their bus all while I am trying to get myself dressed, fed, and ready to walk out the door as soon as I know for sure they have caught the bus and I don't have to, once again, drive them to school, time is most certainly NOT on my side.