Friday, July 29, 2016

To The Mom Who Wrote "I Still Carry My 5 Year Old"

To The Mom Who Wrote "I Still Carry My 5 Year Old Son",

I still carry my 7 1/2 year old son.

We should be friends.

We carry our sons for different reasons, but the responses we get are similar. And, like you, I don't really care what other people think, know...sometimes you just wish people had the whole story before they judge you.

My son is not a bolter, though he'll run into traffic if startled by a loud noise. He is tactily defensive and will not regularly let me hold him, or even hold his hand, so my best defense when we are near traffic is to put myself between him and moving cars and never let my guard down.

No, I don't carry him for the reason that you carry your son. I carry mine because he'll reach a point of exhaustion and will be unable to walk on his own. Sometimes this can happen after a long time out and about, but sometimes it can happen after a short time. You can't see his low muscle tone and poor endurance, but I'm here to tell you that he's got both of those. With great periods of intense, physical exertion comes the antithesis, and when he reaches his low points he'll fold himself up on the ground and completely retreat within himself. Sometimes, the world just gets overwhelming regardless of his activity level and he simply cannot function. This is what takes my breath away, this complete withdrawal from the world around him. What am I to do? Sit at home and never go anywhere? Abandon an activity that we may be invested in? Maybe. Maybe if he were my only child and I had nothing else to do. But, I have two older children and they give up so much as it is.

So, I pick him up and carry him.

This is me carrying him on a hike the day after running a marathon:
At the time, one year ago, he could still squeeze into a baby backpack (safety rated to 70 pounds - there are no products that I could find that are actually intended for his height and weight, much like finding diapers to fit a 6 year old). His mid back is where an infant's head would be, so though the way I used it is not as it is intended, at least I was able to distribute his weight enough to comfortably make it through our hike (by the end he had fallen asleep).

A year later, he is taller and now 58 pounds. This was us just last week:
When we stopped for a bathroom break, he said, "I wish you had the strap thing"; I knew that he meant he wished he could be on my back instead, so we switched positions:

Look. Look close.

This is not a lazy child. He is deadweight in my arms, with his head resting on my shoulder. Sometimes he'll put his face in my neck and breathe in my scent. This is not a burden. This is a gift. It's in these moments that he allows me to touch him. This is how he shows me love, how he tells me, without words, that he needs my help. Even when I am carrying him because he refuses to go to school and he is raging mad, he'll go into my arms and put his face on my skin and inhale and I think ah...this is PEACE. And, because reaching him can sometimes be so, so hard, I feel proud when I can finally offer him something he needs.

So, I carry him.

I'm also proud of myself for being physically able to lift and carry him for good amount of time. Like you, Mom of the 5 year old, I worry that I can't sustain this forever. I started CrossFit a year ago to become a stronger runner, but quickly realized a greater purpose. While most at the gym are there to become stronger and fitter (and I have those goals too), I am there to prolong the amount of time I can carry my child. I know that I can comfortably squat more than he weighs (I could push press him too if needed, but just barely) and that should buy me years of, at the very least, piggy back rides. I'm fairly certain that the 20 somethings next to me are not wondering how the weight on their bars equates to the weight of carrying another person. This is my burden, but one I choose. Yes, he is going to get taller and older and it will get more awkward, but as I wrote a year ago...if my choice is to make things accessible for my son or not, well, there is no decision to make because the answer is easy.

So, carry on Mama, carry on. You are not alone. I've got 2 1/2 years on you, and I'm not ready to put my son down yet either. I will carry him as long as he needs, as long as I can. Because, as you already know, if you think the need to protect your children is strong, the need to protect your children that cannot protect themselves will make you dig deeper than you ever thought you could.

Carry on...

Another Autism Mama Just Carrying Her Child To Get Through Life

Friday, July 8, 2016

Every Day Life Looks Like This...

...when it's time to take a shower. You'll find Evan in the corner of our bathroom with his ears covered when we turn the shower on.
Just a little glimpse into our lives...