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The Meandering Thoughts of an Itchy-footed, Skin-jumpy Mom at the Ass-End of Summer "Break"

August 3, 2010

(big ass garden spider)

I thought last Wednesday was bad. Truly (okay, not bad, but long). Itchy feet, holy crap on a cracker, do you know what I mean?

Sigh. I get the itchiest of feet (metaphorically speaking). I don’t think it’s fair to say I’m bored, but maybe it works as a short hand if you’ve never experienced what I mean by itchy feet. I know Kathleen gets it, and I’m sure alot of my online friends do.

Skin jumpy is another way to refer to it. And well, I suspect some folks on the spectrum would completely understand: your skin can’t contain you, the energy and sensations build up until it feels like you’ll explode. It is a peculiar feeling, hah, sort of like the restless leg commercials conveyed, I guess. It’s not restless leg syndrome, though, and pills won’t fix it. Movement will, though. Structure is even better.

(morning glories override the back garden, chaos ensuing)

Changes in my schedule can make me feel this way. Hours without a definite plan can as well. Miss out on writing? Skin jumpy! No gardening today? Definitely itchy feet.

We’ve had a big change in schedule here, and while we are all adjusting well (relatively) to Rick moving back to a day shift, it completely upended the rhythm we had established. We immediately put a new schedule and rhythm in place, and it is working well (mostly, and better for the kids than for me). Of course, this week saw a minor week long shift in addition to the big change, and it’s taking some adjusting for me.

I’ve come to find clear demarcations in what we do and when we do it give the day a flow to it that is predictable (well, duh!) and prevents itchy fit and jumpy skin (mostly). Sigh. I did not use to be rigid. I truly didn’t, but nearly 21 years as a parent to children who absolutely need that structure or they are lost (in time, in space), I need that structure, those clearly programmed transitions that occur with predictable frequency or I get a bit tense.

(chives blossoms bursting through!)

Of course, it might also be that being an adjunct instructor for years has also programmed me into neat 1.5, 2.0 or 3.0 hours chunks of time. There is that to be said, as well.

For whatever the reasons, I need, long for, and impose those demarcations when outside forces do not. Who would have thought? Is it possible that I only think I didn’t need or want those structures before kids? I mean, I’ve been a parent for more than half my life; was there ever really a me that got huge chunks of unscheduled time? I look back, and I think that perhaps this is a story I tell myself, that there is a me that wasn’t rigid, didn’t need structure, and used to thrive on unpredictability, but I think there wasn’t. Not really. Before kids, before marriage, there was basic training and AIT for the army reserves (talk about schedules!). There were college classes and jobs with schedules and clear tasks within those schedules.

I think the unscheduled, laid-back me is a myth, a figment of my imagination, a story I tell myself, not the truth. Not the reality. And it is eye-opening to realize that it may not be just that my children require predictability and rhythmicity, but that I do, as well, that I thrive in it, revel in it, delight in it, am contained by it rather than constrained by it.

And then I think, skin-jumpiness, itchy-footedness comes from a break in that rhythmicity. The flow of words being typed on a keyboard is helpful (and I have not done enough writing, nor done enough reading, learning). There is a definite sense of energy, of restlessness, flowing out through my fingers, but it isn’t enough (like I’m gonna stop midwriting? No, insteady my feet swing back and forth, occasionally making satisfying smacks against the recliner in order to keep me steady, busy enough to finish posting). As soon as I hit publish,  I will be up and pacing the house, stopping to dust here and there, restack a stack of books that’s become askew, or, if the energy is too intense, off I’ll go to tackle the girlies’ rooms because gods know an excess of energy is needed to tackle that disaster.

If it weren’t West Texas and August, I’d be in the garden, but midafternoon is too hot to work out there and teaching  in the morning robs me of the routine of daily gardening in the morning, another break in the rhythmicity of the days.

(roses in full bloom calm the itchy feet)

By and large, I get my kids, understand some of their quirks, because I share them. Some quirks are actually more intense in me than in them. But I am not my children and I lay no claims to being autistic. I’ll own a fair amount of BAPpiness (broad autism phenotype), as will my husband, as do my parents (my brothers resist some, but shew, they got the BAPpiness too, like it or not), but I can’t go all the way there and it would be wrong to pretend I can.

I do not walk in my son’s shoes, although I often imagine what it must be like, although I try hard to perceive the world through his eyes. It allows me compassion to temper frustration when he’s gotten lost in a task or is absorbed in a cartoon and lets time slide by, chores undone.

My girlies, so much like their brother, are different, too. My oldest garden girlie I really get; she and I are so very much alike, and we work hard to help her understand the world and how it works so that she can successfully navigate it. My wee garden girlie is more like her brother (but without the ID) and so imagining her reality is harder, but I try. I do my best to see the world in the ways that they do so that I can better help them.

When we love others, that is what we do: we try to see the world the way they do. We work to walk in their shoes, to understand where they are coming from. Sometimes, it’s very hard to do, and we undoubtedly get it wrong, but we keep trying because that’s what you do when you love a person.

It occurs to me to wonder if some folks over at the angry places ever think to stop and do that? Really stop and do that? Hmmmm. That’s certainly something to ponder, isn’t it? Or are they so wrapped up in their own shoes, own world, and so very angry that things didn’t go as they were expecting that it simply never occurs to them to be still, to listen, to just be for a moment?

(Sometimes, things don’t end up the way we thought they would.)
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