"So what is the rate?" She inclined her head towards me. I swallowed, stalling because I didn't know. I knew it was high. I looked at her and said, "Not sure, but I know it is higher than the national average. That's just over 50% now." So I decided to come home and google up some actual figures. There is no question that raising a child with autism, even high-functioning autism, is a challenge. It is a challenge financially, emotionally, spiritually and attitudinally. It is an entire paradigm shift. Like living with a duck who wants grapes...all the time. It isn't hard to feel at your wits' end ..often. Many times J comes home and I just have nothing else to give. I am spent. Absolutely worn out, and not able to give to one more person. And who gets the short end of the stick? You guessed it: J does. And yet he rarely complains.
As I write this, he has sallied-forth on a mission of mercy. Yes, the kids are tucked into their beds, and he has gone to procure Starbucks mocha, the nectar of the gods. He knows foreplay. Or maybe he just knows how to keep me sane. Since life can
often be a war zone, and I, crawling over enemy lines without hesitation (okay, maybe there is a little hesitation) a medic on duty is necessary. That's where J comes in. I guess it works because we take care of each other. We get along well, and well, we don't really have to work at it. Which is good, because there isn't much time to work on much of anything in this house, not the way the littles behave. We can't take on anymore.
There is a reason we have cats. Cats are independent, don't mind if they aren't the center of attention and often prefer not to be. We don't have a dog, though I would love one, and maybe someday soon, we may take the plunge. But I don't have the time to devote to puppy training and walking and just being generally slobbered over and followed around. I get that enough. We would probably kill a fish, forgetting to feed it. And you don't want to see my yard. When we moved back home after the fire, we decided to do our own gardening. But me, in my infinite wisdom decided that we would do the Green Thing and not use poison on the lawn to kill the weeds. And, did I mention that I now use a rotary mower to save the environment? Unfortunately, it is now my lawn that needs salvation.
Lacking time, I haven't done the requisite internet search for nematodes and other magic organic fixes to protect my lawn from the weedie beasties. Consequently, my lawn, which of course, someone forgot to water, is now brown with green things bobbing in not quite a sea of crabgrass. We do manage to get it somewhat mowed, but it seems to be a losing battle. The flowerbeds are overgrown, and all good intentions to clear them and plant something gave way to a brochure left on our front stoop about code enforcement and happy neighbors. We don't know which one of the wonderful residents of our 'hood left it for us, but there it is.
And my answer? You try mowing the lawn when you have a 6 yr old in the middle of a screaming fit for who knows the reason (sometimes, there are no reasons) and a 9 yr old being defiant and refusing to do anything except repeat, "Can I have a cookie? Can I have a cookie? Can I have a cookie?" And this after being told, as I am wont to do: "Question asked and answered," ad nauseum. And amidst this, I will take time to mow the lawn? What planet does the anal neighbor with the perfect yard and the perfect teens (only they aren't because I see them on the corner) who mows his lawn and trims his plants nearly every day...what planet is he from?
So, there is little time left to work on things like marriages, or dinner reservations or breathing. So it is a very good thing that my marriage is usually so easy. We figure we survived a fire, when the house was completely smoked out, everything was destroyed and we had nothing but each other. We survived the insurance settlement and the rebuilding process and the redecorating and even the relocating. Autism after that? Cake.
In any case, I came home and found the figures. According to a few online sources, it is over 80%. Dr. Phil even pegged the rate at 86% if you can believe it. 86% of marriages amongst couples who have a child with autism end in divorce. So, since we have two children, does that make our rate higher? In fact, statistically, we aren't married at all! Yay, we are living in sin, and have been for almost 19 years! (Then why aren't we having more fun?)
TLC feels very lucky to still be married after all this crap. She has three children, two with high-functioning autism, she homeschools and is still mostly sane. She views autism as a growth process and the opportunity to connect parents for support as a passion. Read more of her misadventures at Send Chocolate. This blog is her gift to the Autism Community.