I am adrift.
This description is figurative, but super accurate. I don’t know what to do with myself. The obvious answer is, take care of my other children. And myself, I guess. And go serve people, I KNOW. I’ll get there. But if you look past the obvious to my unmoored self, you’ll find that I don’t know what to do because all of my energies have gone to Jack’s needs for so long. There is a void there that can’t instantly be filled.
The other night after school, Henry left to ball with the guys and Charlie and Truman played in a neighbor’s backyard. Jeff was working late. I literally paced the kitchen for like two hours. I thought about reading or watching TV, but my mind couldn’t focus on anything. I paced because that’s what I’ve always done with Jack—walked around being available for whatever he needed. If I ever sat down, he pulled on my arm, asking me in his way to take him on a ride or help him get a snack. If I ever got distracted by engaging in a project like laundry or cooking, Jack would get into some mischief and I would have a big mess to clean up.
When you have been Jack’s shadow/helper/intermediary with the world and now you aren’t, there remains a sense of “I don’t know what to do anymore.”
After much pacing that evening, fyi, I got out the shop vac and cleaned out my car. It no longer looks like Jack has been shredding everyone’s important documents in the backseat. It’s pretty clean and has stayed pretty clean since then. That’s another difference. Also, we don’t have to lock everything up anymore. We don’t have to hide our toothbrushes. We don’t have to hide the vacuum. I wrapped a birthday present for someone today, and it’s safely sitting on the table. I didn’t have to hide it so Jack wouldn’t open it. I bought my favorite coconut almond protein bars that need refrigeration, and I didn’t have to hide them in the crisper, beneath the vegetables, from Jack, who likes to open such things and then stuff them between the couch cushions.
During school hours, I feel pretty calm. After school, despite all the boys being here and there, the house feels empty. When evening rolls around, the time I used to call “the witching hour,” when Jack was unsettled and anxious and shredding everything—this is when I feel sad. The house is calmer, but one of my children isn’t here.
Everything feels wrong. How can anything be right when Jacky is gone? Not only is he my son, he is the son who has required all my attention since always.
Since I don’t know what to do, I find myself turning frequently to social media, which isn’t a source of fulfillment for me. I’m trying to have a different default response, like reading a book, listening to a chapter from the Book of Mormon, or cleaning something. At some point, I hope God will tell me what I need to do to be of use to the world.
I still have children at home, but they do not need the same level of constant vigilance. Their needs are more sporadic. If I’m here managing from a distance and stepping in occasionally, we are in a state of equilibrium. I guess this is what parenting is like for a lot of people, but I am not accustomed to it.
This post does not have a great point or any fabulous insights. It’s me working through grief.
I guess this special needs parenting blog has become a grief blog. And a spirituality blog, but we already knew that.