Today is JC’s 14th birthday. He wakes up this morning at 6am to get his presents. Despite not showing much emotion, we have fun watching him open his gifts – The Simpsons movie, one of his favourites of all time, and a new gaming computer. We imagine his excitement even if we can’t see it.
“Do you want to set up the computer now, JC?”
“No, it’s okay. Dad can help me do it tonight.” I’m immediately deflated. Where are those days when he used to get so excited about his presents and would lose his temper when something wouldn’t work or we couldn’t get it put together quick enough? Am I insane for missing those days?
Dee senses my disappointment. “How about Mum helps you build it later today?”
“No, I think you better do it.” An added insult to my injury – now I’m perceived as incompetent.
“It’s okay. JC wants time with his Dad,” I say. I tell myself this to make myself feel better.
JC grabs what he really wants, his iPod so he can read Naruto fan fiction, and heads off to his comfort zone – under his blanket in his darkened room. Dee takes a look at the PC he has bought online and finds a part lose. He then sets about getting ready for work. I climb back into bed where my two dogs have made themselves comfortable. As I cover my body, neither of them move for fear of being moved off. I don’t want to move them, I need some loving.
I fall asleep and when the phone rings it is 9am. It is Dee. “Hey, my love. About the computer, is the Windows 7 disc with the package?”
“Uh, I’ll just check.”
“Are you okay?”
“I was asleep.”
“Oh, sorry. Well, can you check for the disc?”
I have a quick look. “Nope. No, disc.”
“Okay, I’ll get in touch with them.” And with that Dee is gone. The dogs have not moved and dare not look at me.
I make myself a cup of tea. It is cold and I do not feel like getting up. I return to bed and phone Jay.
“Hey angel, how was your night last night?”
“Oh, hey, Mum. Yeah, it was okay. I didn’t sleep until 12, but it was okay. How is JC?”
“Yeah, he enjoyed his gifts. In his usual spot now, though. I’m going to stay at home with JC today love. He goes back to school tomorrow, so I’ll come then.” I know that me being at home will make little difference to JC, but I feel at least for his birthday, for the first time in two and half weeks, I should be available to him for the entire day.
Jay understands. “That’s fine Mum.” We talk a bit more about how she is feeling. The tightenings have really subsided. She is bored and wondering why she can’t come home. The boredom is relentless. I try to encourage her, to reassure her that she is busy incubating her son and that she is doing such a fabulous job. We talk about staying in bed for the day. It is dreary outside and seems to be the perfect day for a pyjama day, a frequent event that used to frequent our family calendar when we would shut out the world and just be together. I miss those times. We agree on a pyjama day by distance.
I lie for a bit and realise that Dee’s folks are likely to pop round for JC’s birthday. No pyjama day for me. I get showered and dressed. The door bell rings. It isn’t Dee’s folks but the new part for my dyson vacuum cleaner. I am excited to get it. I fit it and am delighted to see my cleaner is operational again. I whip around the house with it, filling the canister with all the nasty dust that has been accumulating on my carpets for a good couple of weeks. Don’t be fooled. I am what I term myself “A housekeeper’s backside.” I hate housework and any form of domesticity really. I do it out of obligation, occasionally, when I can no longer get away with not doing it, usually when we are expecting guests because I am absolutely petrified of being judged an awful housewife, since that is meant to be my job.
I walk into JC’s room. It is a mess and full of dust. “I want to hoover in here, JC.”
“No, I’m in bed.” The noise is too much for him, so he needs to vacate the room for me to do it.
“I know, but I need to clean it.” I know this is futile. I will have to do it tomorrow when he returns to school. I walk out as he says again, “No.”
I make him and I breakfast. Bacon sandwich for him, a bowl of sultana bran for me – because I want to lose weight, of course. He devours the sandwich. I try to broach the subject of leaving the house. “Perhaps you and I can go and see a movie. Battleship is meant to be really good.”
“Are you sure? It’s a lovely day and it would be so nice to get out…” before I have finished my sentence, JC gets up and walks away.
“I don’t want to go, Mum. It’s my day and I just want to be left alone.” He walks back into his room and closes the door, a little too hard for my liking. I sigh. I feel disconnected from my son and I have no idea how to make the connection with him. Such it is with autism. Always living in their own world, with no room for outsiders, or anyone really.
I retire to the sofa and turn on the television. At least the house is dust free for a while and at least I have a day of relaxation to enjoy. I hope Jay is not too lonely, but I know that I will be there with her for a good few hours tomorrow so try not to feel too guilty.
I spend much of the day watching TV, making lunch, tidying here and there. It is relaxing, although I find I am tearful throughout the day. Depression is such a bitch sometimes. Even when I am relaxed, those dreaded tears sneak up on me. But I am relaxed and that is a good thing. I think about Baby C and wonder how he is doing in his little cocoon, blissfully unaware of life outside the womb and the flurry he has caused. I smile, because I am sure it won’t be long now and a new adventure will begin. At least JC got his wish, Baby C will not be sharing the same birthday. Funny how even if you have autism, you don’t want to share your birthday with anyone, you just want it to be your special day.