I’m not really good at relinquishing control. I don’t like to delegate, because I can do it better. I can do everything – because I am “responsible”. It might sound a bit like a God complex, but honestly there’s no deliberate arrogance at play here. I have an innate desire to plan to the ‘inth degree every detail necessary to ensure that life is neat and tidy.
Perfectionists are always failures, obviously. But perfectionists have a fear – a fear of the unknown, of not being prepared, of (ironically) failing. I’m that person that needs the 30 year plan. Step by step I’m going to get “there” and someday everything will be rainbows and unicorns. If…if I just keep ticking off the next thing on my to-do list, then the boy will have everything he needs to be “all better” and I will have been successful as a Mother.
I have taken to-do lists to a level of epic proportion. I have them on my laptop, my PDA, a notebook I carry everywhere. Sometimes I add “make to-do list” to an existing list. It’s one of my many neurosis and probably the least endearing one.
Certain things seem to be within my control, feeding the fire of my false idealogies, and for the most part the sense of accomplishment I garner from the daily grind satisfies my otherwise gnawing desire for perfection.
Control is about power; about power over outcome.
It’s just that having a child with special needs means that any semblance of control is ripped out of your hands, catapulted to the moon, and burried in an undisclosed location. The situation strikes you immediately impotent. The future is a million different scenarios – and some of them are utterly horrifying. The only certainty you have is an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.
Yes, I realize that no parent knows what the future holds for their child. However, one might argue that they know what, most likely, it does not hold. There’s a standard trajectory with “typical” children. There are expectations, mostly warrented by societal norms. Of course hopes and aspirations sometimes go unmet, or are shattered irretrievably. It’s just that generally one has some idea of what could and most likely will be, in the broadest of terms.
This is not so in Autismville. I hear so many different and wide-ranging opinions on my child’s projected future that I’ve stopped listening. Any ray of hope and optimism is countered by a grounding “it’s too soon to tell”. Admittedly, the boy is doing remarkably well by all accounts. He’s gaining expressive and receptive language daily, he strives to engage socially, and he has a seemingly average/high aptitude for academics. There are many more promising signs, but that’s not the point here.
These things don’t mean his life will be typical. They don’t guarantee that he will hold a job, find love, or have friends. I believe he will, because that’s what Mommy’s do, they believe. I don’t KNOW anything. I can’t look at an adult or teenager with Autism and see my boy’s future – I can see possibilities – some are encouraging, others are despairing.
I’m not the kind of person who handles ambiguity well. I don’t do “letting go” with any level of success. No matter how much I’d like to believe that some greater power than I am in control of the future, I can’t. I am fully responsible and accountable to myself and my child. I wish I was less of an analytical being each day – I would love to have faith. It would take the pressure off.
Thing is, I don’t need to know the end of the story. Hell, I don’t want to know the end of the story. I just need to know it ends well. I need to know that x + y = z. I need to have the formula to orchestrate OUR trajectory, to get us on the right path and to know it’s right, so that I have peace of mind in the fact that I laid the foundation necessary for a happy ending.
I imagine, were I to slow down long enough to stumble into some euphoric state of zen-like wisdom, I would accept that this is yet another of life’s lessons I must learn. That patience, is indeed a virtue. Or maybe that appreciating the journey is far more important than the actual destination.
I’m not that spiritual or trusting though. And it seems almost criminal to stake my “on the job” training in life’s lessons on an innocent child.
Enter my stolen mantra (which in itself is probably karmic suicide, but whatever):
The best things in life are serendipitous. I don’t know how, or when, but everything is going to work out just fine.