Tuesday, November 8, 2011

There's no place like (our) home for the holidays.

The holidays are fast approaching. They always come this time of year don't they? I'm a very traditional person. I've always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the time in between. I've liked going to the homes of family members and the few times in my adult life I've been in a position to host a gathering, I've enjoyed that too. I like being a small-time Clark Griswold and putting up some lights on the house and setting up the tree. I like trying to remember which stocking is mine. I like tying the tree to the wall to keep my cats from toppling it over.

Things are different now though. While we (most of us) get some time off for the holidays, my son doesn't get a break from autism. Since he doesn't get a break from it, we don't get a break from the things that come with having a son with autism. Those things include:

Constant monitoring

Finding things he'll eat

Making sure he has enough things to occupy him

Fear he'll get into something he shouldn't

Fear he'll melt down

Fear he'll break something expensive

Having a place to change him at a moment's notice

Having a bathroom he can occupy for as long as he wants until he poops

Having a place for him if he decides it's time for a nap (rare)

We have all of these things taken care of in our house. It's easy. It's when we go out to someone else's home that can be tough. There are a few places we go (my parents, my wife's parents and siblings homes) where we don't worry as much. Still it's exhausting trying to enjoy yourself while keeping track of everything that Matthew needs. We eat in shifts. "I'll watch him, you go and eat". "Are you done eating? Ok you watch him so I can eat, I'm starving" etc...It's like only one of us at a time can "enjoy" ourselves at any gathering. I never feel that we can commit to being anywhere for a set period of time. We can show up for something and if it's not working for Matthew for whatever reason, we're out. That's just the way it is. We enter damn near everything with the fear of what will happen and what we'll do if things turn south. 99% of the time the answer is "we'll just go home".

That's where we feel most at peace. That's where we can somewhat let our guards down. It's set up for him. He has places he can go and not get into trouble. His shows are on the DVR. His snacks are in the pantry. He's a happy kid and isn't too bothered by strange places. We're the ones that worry. Our hosts don't make us feel this way.

This season we'll venture out and do some family things. We'll have fun. It will be nice to visit with family...It always is.

But it's always nice to get back home.