We've been trying for the past year to get her to not talk like that. Her argument - hell is not a swear word. We disagree. So I reminded her that that sort of language wasn't necessary. She glared at me and as I looked back down at my book I could see that she mouthed or muttered something I didn't
quite catch but the sense was that it was pretty negative towards me.
Now when you're a sensitive parent, like I am, this kind of thing can be crushing. It's been a struggle for more than a year now of her beating me up one moment to fierce loving hugs the next.
Welcome to being a parent of a hormonal teenage girl on the Autism Spectrum.
I did not engage her. I chose to bite my tongue. Something I'm having to learn to do. This wasn't even a major interaction and was pretty minor in comparison of some of the episodes we've had. Yet, as I sat staring at my phone, I couldn't help but look back to 5 or 6 years ago when not only was she a lot shorter but I was also her whole world. Love wasn't a roller coaster of conflicting emotions.
As I sat and pictured what she had been like back then, I began to mourn the loss of that young girl. The happy, carefree passionate kid who'd play mermaids in the pool and spent hours digging in the dirt. The one who thought I was awesome and was eager to cuddle up and watch a movie with even if it's the same one over and over again. I was heartsick and somewhat overwhelmed at the thought that that girl was gone.
Now, it's sullenness and selfishness, depression and swearing and bone-crushing hugs when she's seeking assurance afterward. She'd rather sit on her laptop or tablet for hours than do anything active or spend time with her family. Her mind is amazingly creative and yet so dark it sometimes scares me.
This isn't just an Autism thing and it's not just a teen thing. When you have a child on the spectrum it's like the whole teenage hormonal thing is magnified x1000. I long to go back to the days when parenting this child was simpler and at the same time, I long to skip ahead to the future and bypass these tough years. I can't do either of those things.
What I can do:
I can find the joy in the small moments and celebrate the successes however small.
I can embrace what's special about my child and help her to realize what she is good at and not to focus on the negative.
I can listen to her when she wants to talk. Even when it's mind-numbing boring topics like the latest episode of Voltron.
I can be open to those bone-crushing hugs whenever she needs them, even when I'm elbows deep in dishwater.
I can choose not to focus on the negative.
I can give her space.
I can choose to love when things get ugly.
I can pray over each of my children and ask for God's strength and wisdom in navigating this next stage of life.
I choose to believe that all things are possible!