“Asleep and Awake”
I’ve been realizing over the past few weeks how often I dream of motherhood, and about R in particular.
In my dreams, R invariably appears as a creative force, and also as someone I rely on without any hesitation. In one dream, A was at a summer camp, and had gone missing (*hyperventilates*), and it somehow took two days to track him down. As dreams do, this one had many twists and turns, including an angry, loud woman with a strong Jersey accent, and I had to lead R away because he was laughing so hard at the woman’s diatribe about her missing shoes. But I never felt any fear because R was just as invested in finding A as I was.
Another dream was about a prayer written by R. It’s a tad personal to write about in detail here, but it encapsulates how I feel about his independent, artistic way of understanding himself, and how I see his life path inspiring a spiritual evolution in us all.
As special needs parents, I think we all learn to compartmentalize, enjoying the present moment and not burdening our kids with the worries we have for their futures. Because of their need for interventions, it’s easy to get caught up in preparing them extra vigilantly to overcome the inherent societal and other disadvantages that a disability diagnosis can lay on them. When the parental safety net is gone, they need to be able to survive without us, and that takes on an added urgency with special needs kids. And R asks a lot of questions so he can understand the nature of the overseeing he will also have to do someday of A’s wellbeing. He knows it overwhelms me, and waits patiently while I compose myself.
I believe that my dreams are my way of seeing past all the apprehension to the depth and character that are already present in R. My resting mind seems to feel no dread. And R is so funny in the way he plays with A, we enjoy the nonsense immensely. He has mastered the art of taking photos of A from peculiar angles so that A’s head looks like an egg, or his nose looks like a clothes peg. I really don’t know how he does it, and then he makes collages and sends them to us, and we have to wipe away tears of laughter. He has called my attention to the operatic quality of the keening sounds A makes when he cries, and hums them as a melody with unerring precision. No one else could so perfectly and affectionately mock the demands that A’s personality places on all of us.
After Shashi Kapoor’s passing hit the news, I showed some scenes from his 1978 movie “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” to R, and we started noticing how similar Zeenat Aman’s walk was to the Prancercise video lady. I am going to try to insert the videos, let us see if my usual tech fail will hold off:
See? Even the spirit of elation is similar! 😉 It makes me so happy that I get to share this stuff with R.
In families like ours, deeply eccentric behaviors are the norm as part of everyday life. So is freely expressed affection, both verbal and physical. And so is a faith in one another’s mutual sincerity. I never take these gifts for granted. I did not know that they would be the sweetest side effects of my kids’ diagnoses. My dreaming brain puts it into poetry and imagery, which informs my conscious mind, and allows me to understand that this journey we are on, this throat clogging immediacy of autism feels, it may not get easier, and it will probably always have screaming, but sweetness and hugs and mutual regard are ours to draw strength from. They live in our house, this House of Stims and Rituals.
P.S. If you see me prancing down the main street of my town, I’ll deny it.