Sunday, August 15, 2010

Check Engine Light

The other day my husband came home after driving the beloved loser cruiser (powder blue mini-van -- a model of car I swore I would never own let alone drive...) was in peril. It had smelled funny for a few weeks and was leaving sweaty spots on the driveway. We kept putting more oil in it realizing that there was a leak of some sort. Finally, the light came on to tell us to cut the crap and take the car into the mechanic.

Luckily, my husband prefers to ride his bike to work so being down a car wasn't a major problem. And luckily it turned out to be a minor problem -- a crack in a gasket and a sensor working improperly. The loser cruiser, with its 110,000 miles and counting, would continue to roll forward. Paid off, covered with Cubs, Blackhawks and In and Out Burger bumper stickers, a generous dent on the back door, and riddled with scratches along the sides, the van would continue to be a part of our family life -- toting kids to school, weighed down with rafts, tents and coolers in the summer, and dolled up with snow tires chugging up the mountain passes for skiing and hockey tournaments.

I thought how nice it would be if we humans had Check Engine Lights illuminate in our chests, reminding us to take it easy, slow down and mend the cracks. I think our family has been sailing along most of the summer with our invisible Check Engine Light on and yet we haven't pulled off the road, popped the hood and let the cloudy steam rise off the boiling engine to get a better look at why we feel so out of sync. It's a luxury we really haven't had.

Summer has been hard. I am feeling lost in the long days. I spend most of my day with Sean trying to keep his moods even, his body regulated and his thoughts happy. Meanwhile, I have neglected my writing, chores and most sadly to me, my friendships. It's as if we have to put so much on hold. Our child doesn't do well in crowds, doesn't like to be in public much, can't socialize well and even trips to the pool or parks have ended disastrously with Sean being out of control or yelling or hugging strangers.

My older son is struggling with this. Sean is getting bigger. He is harder to manage. And he's quick and fast and can't control his impulses. We take turns watching him but inevitably he gets away from us, whether its jumping on a person sitting on a bench or hugging a woman's knees, most trips out can end badly.

My husband and I have grown thick skins -- practically Teflon. By my oldest is getting to a point in his life where he is much more aware of the dynamic and struggles with the love he has for Sean and the embarrassment that he often feels at how his brother behaves. It breaks my heart sometimes. I know my oldest is kind and good and tolerant, mostly because he has had to be in order to be a part of this family, but I can't help thinking how some days must be very tough for him and how I wish I could make it all better.

So I guess we all continue down this bumpy road, our Check Engine Light beeping and blinking and yet summer doesn't afford us the time or opportunity to fix ourselves. We have to keep making little quick mends until fall when school begins and we have the luxury of time. Twenty seven days and counting...


Gimky said...

I love this post.

I totally know.

And what's more, my son needs the check engine light even more than me. It's like he's missing that part and coasting along oblivious to his flat tire, lack of washer fluid, the other drivers around him....

I think you wrote it once before. Progress comes in waves. And the other thing is, summer can be hard. Our boys need so much structure and it's impossible for even the most well-intentioned, motivated mom to replace school or camp! Hang in there. You care about your boys' well being intensely and you are doing an amazing job.

Cinda said...

Ahhh, Katie, life is so darn complicated. I know that summer is not the happy season for many children with disablities (and their families). Wish I was close enough to have tea with time you are in Seattle Linea and I would LOVE to do so! Take good care and best and warmest thoughts coming south to you! Cinda

Casdok said...

Beautiful photo and love the idea of a check light!