I’ve always been a morning person – long before I had children.
I often ‘blame’ my farm upbringing. Sorting hogs at 4 AM or getting cattle wrangled back into their pens in the middle of the night. Maybe it was my dad singing on the porch in the morning (he’s also tone deaf…which added to the awesomeness of it all). Maybe it was my mom banging around pans and cracking eggs for breakfast.
I don’t even use an alarm clock…my body naturally wakes around 6 AM.
I love mornings. I wake up happy and eager to begin the day. I know, to some it’s quite annoying. I have a new reason to love mornings even more.
This morning I realized that I also love mornings because they are so routine oriented and I see Tucker as the very best version of himself.
He wakes around 6 AM…by himself (he’s sleeping by 9 PM, sometimes earlier). In our lives together I have had to wake him less than five times.
He comes upstairs into my room. I say good morning. He says good morning.
If I happen to still be lying in bed he comes to me and grabs my hand. He holds it and says, ‘Love you mom.’ I return the sentiment. If he’s looking for the iPad he says, “Mom, hide under the covers – I’m going to turn on your light.” Yes…he’s that thoughtful.
If I’m up and rolling he waits for a long, tight morning hug (yes…all kinds of sensory stuff here, remember Day #85 – Lovebug). Sometimes that hug can last five minutes. I don’t let go until he does.
I remind him to brush his teeth and put on deodorant, he gets dressed. He watches the iPad. When it’s time for breakfast I give him a five-minute warning. He usually comes before that.
He eats Corn Flakes, Chex, or Crispix. He drinks a glass of water.
He watches the iPad.
I remind him to put on socks (somehow this is something he usually forgets) and gather what he needs for school.
He watches the iPad.
I give a 5-minute leave warning.
We walk out the door…usually around 8 AM.
The AM is A-OK.
It’s before his brain has a chance to get overwhelmed.
It’s before his feelings have a chance to get hurt.
It’s before his body feels out of whack.
It’s before he’s struggled with a sentence.
It’s before he has a chance to be wrong.
It’s before any schedules have gone hay-wire.
It’s before any strange looks.
It’s before his brain ‘hurts.’ That is how Tucker describes having autism.
Sigh…he also loves mornings.
His well-rested brain is amazing…this morning as we walked to our vehicle I realize how ‘typical’ our mornings feel. I asked him what it was about mornings that felt good to him. His response? ‘My brain doesn’t hurt yet.’
It’s real and I know when it’s happening. He begins to sort of rub/itch his head in a really hard/fast way. He closes his eyes. His face gets red. He puts his head down. He will often put his hands over his ears. I know he’s trying to block out all sensory stimuli. It’s looks something like this…
He describes it as ‘something very different from a headache.’
He describes it in terms of ‘not being able to listen.’
He describes it as not ‘being able to understand something I know is simple.’
He describes it as not ‘being able to remember something I know we learned yesterday.’
He describes it as not ‘being able to understand what someone is saying.’
He describes it as ‘getting lost and not knowing where we are.’
He describes it as not ‘being able to control my tears.’
He describes it as ‘hiding it so no one knows I’m lost.’
He describes it as not ‘being able to control my anger.’
He describes it as ‘frustrating, because I want to be better.’
He describes it as ‘knowing I’m smart, but I can’t always tell you what you need.’
He describes it as ‘knowing I’m letting people down.’
‘Mom, that’s why when I get home from school I just want to watch some videos in my room. I just want to be alone. You know I love you – but I just need to be alone in my room.’
Then I get sad…because I lose him at night. He becomes argumentative, sometimes belligerent. But I get it…I know that he’s just ‘maxed’ out for the day.
Then I remember, there is always the next morning….when my sweet boy, my heart returns.