By: Jacqueline Koutsoufis
Have you ever just said, “Please! Five minutes of peace and quiet would be great right about now!”
This statement comes to my mind on a daily basis. It starts as soon as a toddler (who is happy to be awake, singing any song that comes to mind) comes barging into my room at 6:30 in the morning. One minute they are happy and running and singing together. The next it’s like World War III has just erupted. I hear screams of horror like someone is being murdered, only to find out that someone else has the plate they wanted or finished the juice they hoped to have. This is just the first fifteen minutes of the morning while I’m waiting for my coffee to be ready.
Oh yeah, I am one of those moms who sometimes uses the TV for a couple of minutes of quite. I look at the clock – it’s early enough. One child is eating breakfast, another is in his room with Lego’s, two are watching TV, and the oldest is packing her bag for school. I am just getting ready to take a sip of coffee. Really!!
It’s like they can sense when I’m ready to sit and relax, with a cup of coffee, for a few minutes before the day officially starts. And not just one, but all five start complaining or fighting right in front of me. It’s constant chaos!
I know it was just wishful thinking of sitting and having a peaceful cup of coffee. So it begins.
“Please get dressed. Please remember to take your medication. Eat breakfast! Did you remember to brush your hair and your teeth? Stop fighting and mind your business. Can you please get your backpacks? Don’t forget your lunch money or lunch boxes. We’re running late. Everyone in the car…”
It’s neverending. As we are driving to drop one child off at school, it’s an extension of what was going on at home. Only this time we are all stuck in the van together. No escaping! The fighting and noise seems so much more compounded. A daily battle of, “Don’t touch me. Don’t look at me. Stop singing. Your breath smells. Did you really brush your teeth?” I can scream and cry, laugh, punish, or ignore like it’s not happening.
When I make it to the first school, we are all still alive though I’m a little less sane than I was 15 minutes earlier. We begin the trek to drop off another child at school and I hope for a slightly less annoying drive. It’s amazing how much more peaceful the drive can be when there is one less child. At last, another is out the door and on her way to class.
Now back home! I’m keeping my eyes on the clock. It’s only 30 minutes until the bus comes for two more to head out to school.
Then we begin the inevitable last-minute dash to get them ready. You know that once they are on the bus you’ll be free. I find myself repeating, “Did you eat? Is your bag packed? Is your hair brushed? Are your teeth brushed?” In between, there are some screams and tears of unhappiness, mostly from my youngest, Rebecca, when she wants something from her siblings that is not hers.
Here it is, the last mad dash to head out the door and the accompanying stomping and screaming as we walk out. Anthony is screaming just because he can. I think he may not even know how to be quiet. Everything from this kiddo is over the top.
“I can do this! The bus will be here any minute,” I think as I watch about 15 kids running and screaming and playing before the bus pulls up.
Then, I see it – the big yellow limo. Ahhhh yes. Freedom! My shoulders drop a little. Yes, I still have one more child – a toddler. But for a few simple hours, the older children are safe. I can somewhat relax for a little while. Time for coffee! It’s only a few short hours, a busy day full of cleaning and errands, with a few tantrums from a toddler thrown in.
I know what to expect once the bus pulls up: another screaming child with more tantrums to follow.
Being a mom of multiple children and one being autistic, I have mostly come to grips with my hectic life. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the noise in my house. The fights between the children. The strangers I have to welcome into my comfort zone, my safe zone. I have learned to welcome these people into my home because they are here to help my son and other children. From early intervention to an ABA therapist for my son, Monday through Friday there is always someone in my home.
I have learned to call or send a quick text to my husband or friend, Heather, when life is just too crazy. Until recently, I never realized how important it is to my sanity to find a close friend or two (or even a group of strangers) to talk to, and vent to, and find support.
For any moms with children with autism or sensory processing disorders, there is a great group of moms on Facebook, called ” Super Moms of Special Kids,” where you can go to find helpful tips, some success stories, and or even just to vent. These wonderful women all help support one another. They understand each other’s daily struggles and offer a pick-me-up when needed.
If you don’t have a child with autism or sensory disorder, try finding another group to connect with. Everyone needs someone to talk to. Being a mom is not always easy or always fun! Find that outlet!