Dancing in the ocean…

Week four of the summer holidays and I have survived… Actually enjoyed my time so far.. Although thanks to my lovely Mum I have had some respite and some ‘Us time’ with the Daddy.
Reflecting this morning the Daddy comments on how well Son No. 1 has behaved this week…. Apart from calling me a ‘Fatty Jumbo’ 20 million times, pinching my bingo wings and biting my boob… Yes he has been GREAT!
However all minor indiscretions considered he has done remarkably well, (a lack of routine has quite an impact on life) However Son No. 2 is a different story..
Whilst attempting to bake a Victoria sponge for the village flower show.. I realised that it’s failure to change from yummy cake mix to a fully risen Mary Berry sponge was down to the inability of my oven to heat up at all… In fact the oven was cooler than my over stocked wine fridge (Us Autism Mummy’s need a fully stocked wine supply).
So the Daddy has to unfortunately forsake his weekly lie-in to unscrew the cooker housing and ascertain that it is indeed the element that is broken and not an entire cooker.. Thank the lord… I can still buy this months prosecco quota!
Son No. 2 has in the meantime turned into Damien and (possibly down to low blood sugar levels, because he won’t decide on what he wants for breakfast) is flinging himself around like a Diva. Pouting and stropping – the Daddy helpfully comments ‘I don’t know where he gets that from…’.
Two spells on the naughty step later, and he finally eats his breakfast (No. 2 son… Not the Daddy).
Pretty soon after, the Daddy and I decide that fresh air and the beach is called for and the garden trellis the Daddy has been threatening to finish for three weeks can wait..
And so, an hour later after the usual trials of leaving the house, I sit on our favourite beach, in our beloved East Devon and I think (not too hard you’ll understand)… For I am on the beach.
I am so lucky and so blessed that we have made it, and that we realised our dream probably thirty years earlier than we planned. And yet there are some that would say we are not blessed, that we are unlucky because of no. 1 son having Autism.
Yes there are times… In fact most days, when the enormity of the situation, the responsibility of getting it right, the hurt from the words he doesn’t mean and the cruelness of others insensitivity or ignorance – is just all too much.
Yet when I am watching him, dancing on the shore, he is at total peace and at one with the world; that I know we and the world are lucky to have him.
You see, he has total affinity with the water, he loves it. To others he may look like a flapping bird on the shore, his arms wildly twirling and flapping. To me he is dancing.
Today there is a chill in the air, like autumn is on it’s way… But I truly hope it isn’t… I’m not ready to give up the sun! And I pray for an Indian summer, to extend our carefree playtime.
No. 1 son does not notice the chill, instead he dances in the cold sea, he could be there hours. He does not notice hunger, thirst, the cold. He is happy with his own company and that of the sea.
Under the grey skies the reflection of No.1 son’s dancing form glistens on the wet sand. He’s skipping and jumping and leaping across the ripples of the outgoing tide. He’s so happy and any worries any anxieties have left his over thinking mind, whilst he enjoys his favourite place.

Meanwhile Son No.2 continues as he started the day.. Moody, Mardy anything but cooperative.
He’s not happy.. With the temperature, the lack of snacks, treats, the flavour of his fruit shoot…

And still when we get home he’s still not happy.. I think that sometimes Son No.2 uses any gap in proceedings to gain attention.. And who can blame him.. He so often has to be the ‘big brother’, ‘the peace keeper’; that there is no surprise when he reverts to ‘the baby’.
Tonight he has called the Daddy a ‘bugger’, it’s not a word we use.. And yet he’s delivered it with a smirk to the Daddy..

And so after tea, he’s missed out on pudding and gained an early bedtime.
An hour of crying and general grumpiness ensues and the Daddy manages to fall asleep before Son No.2 on the bottom bunk.
Once again at the end of the day, I find myself reflecting on the day and life in general.. And I know that our life is great… Not perfect.. But great.. It may be tough, but we’re twenty minutes from the sea.
And despite my wish for an Indian summer – we will be on the beach in sun, rain, snow, hail and gales.Whatever anyone says or thinks. I know, the Daddy knows, and our boys know that moving to Devon was the best thing that we could ever have done for our little family. 

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A lack of sleep and a big idea…

We were living in a busy town with an even busier  work life and the social life that goes with it.  I worked, I was dedicated, I was doing the best for my family.. The Daddy worked, he worked hard.. Shifts in a local car manufacturer.

Like most hard-working families we towed the line, and did the best we could… Working all year for the two week holiday abroad or to our beloved Devon.  But those two weeks never seemed enough.

Still we worked, still we juggled the hours.. and boy did we do the hours.. working from home and in the office..  We enjoyed a good standard of living, the nice things, the nice holidays, the beautiful home and the new cars, they all softened the blow of the hours..

My lovely Mum was often cross with me for being late home.. she could see it, even if I was blind to it… “These boys need you home.. They are your priority”… I thought I was being like my Dad, my late Dad (and no, I don’t mean in the timekeeping sense – although he was well known for that).

I’d always had a good work ethic, I always wanted to please others and I worked hard to be the best.. sometimes to my detriment and the detriment of my family.. I can see that now.

Without seeing it coming… it kind of crept up on me.. us…. our little family.. things started to change..

The signs had been there with No.1 Son.. but without being an expert… or indeed a paranoid mother.. they hadn’t all added up.. One of the major symptoms had been sleep and the lack of.

My once peaceful, sleepy boy, who slept through the night and was no trouble to get off to sleep.. suddenly started being ‘naughty’ at bedtime. We returned from a fortnight in Greece, and thought he was out of his usual bedtime ‘routine’… For weeks  the stress levels at bedtime were raised and we all struggled to settle No. 1 Son back into a routine.

In fact he never settled back into any form of routine..And so for nearly eighteen months we struggled.. Up and down the stairs up to twenty times a night… sometimes sleep would allude hm until midnight and gone.

He was tired, we all were.

And yet we all carried on, with the hours… at least we tried.. working in the evenings was challenging to say the least.  Sometimes we could do it…  we’d tag team the Daddy would settle No. 1 Son, whilst I attempted to catch up on the reports due in or the emails that were threatening to explode my mailbox… It all seems so pointless now.

Other times we compared notes ‘I lost it today – I shouted at him’, I fell asleep in his bed, when I woke up, he was playing cars on the floor’.

We were zombies.. we were so tired and No. 1 Son was too.  We even had reports of him falling asleep in class, the school was great – I explained… he just won’t sleep.

We sought advice from the Doctor and the Health Visitor – routine… he must have routine.. try lavender. try black out curtains.. try a warm bath.. try a milky drink..  Believe me it was all going on.

And so there came a point where something had to give… And I was the first to fall… The Mummy.. It all came tumbling down… I finally believed my suspicions, I finally took on board the schools observations.. And finally the Daddy and I started our journey to gain a diagnosis…

I took some time out from work… I needed my space to think..to do the best by me and my family.. I sought solace in the advice of my oldest and dearest friends.

It was during one incredibly open and frank conversation with one of my very best friends that a discussion took place that was to change everything…

The question was asked “If you could do anything – what would you do?”… It started with ‘I’d own and run my own cafe.. selling cakes and sandwiches… ideally in Devon..’..The conversation evolved and plans were laid bare..the idea formed and I thought.. “What if?”.

And so after a good nights sleep and a plan of sorts forming in my head I began the drive back to the town where I had grown up, the town where we lived, the town which was everything we’d ever really known..

On the way, the Daddy rang to check in on my arrival time back to civilisation.. Only to be greeted with the bombshell “I’ve had an idea… what would you say to selling the house and moving to Devon…”.. And so the seed was sown…