me too

“Mama,” Katie says, her eyes telegraphing concern, “are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I say, as much to convince myself as to end this line of questioning.

Fine.

I’m fine.

I hear the edge in my voice and try again.

“I’m fine, honey. Really. Thank you for asking.”

“Mama,” she says, “no offense, but you don’t seem fine.”

My child, the quintessential empath, the walking antennae, her mother’s girl.

“You can talk to me,” she says. “You know that, right? You really can talk to me.”

I don’t trust myself to speak, to not say more than I should to this marvel of a human being who, though a friend, is first – always – my child.

“And when I ask if you’re okay,” she says. “I’m really asking. You know what I mean? I’m not asking how you are to be polite. I’m asking because I care. And I love you. Because I want to know.”

Her words hang in the air.

“I’m listening,” she says, the sincerity palpable. “So how ARE you?”

The eyes again. Straight into my soul, those eyes.

“I’m just, well, I’m having a little trouble, kiddo,” I say. “I’m all right. I really am; I promise. But, well, sometimes it’s all just a little overwhelming – or a lot – and, well, I’m kinda having one of those moments. It’s just, the anxiety …”

I let the unsaid words fill the silence. They take up too much space.

“I get it,” she says. “You know that I get it, right?”

I pull her into me and bury my face in her hair.

I see you, Mama. 

I hear you. 

I get it.

I understand.

I feel that way too. 

You are not alone.

Salves to the soul.

Except …

when they come from your child.

“I know you do, baby, ” I say.

“And I’m so sorry.”

I pull her closer.

I see you, Katie. 

I hear you. 

I get it.

I understand.

I feel that way too. 

You are not alone.

IMG_0969

{image is a photo of Katie on the beach 5 years ago. Even at nine, heck, even at five, those eyes went straight to the soul} 

11 thoughts on “me too

  1. Your Katie and my Allyson are 2 peas in a pod. We’re lucky to have them. I still desperately need to discuss something with you.. it’s VERY important. I’ll leave my email address here and I swear to you this is incredibly vital information and I will NEVER initiate unwanted contact.

    • Anne, respectfully and very sympathetically, I simply don’t have the bandwidth. I saw your story in another comment and it sounds incredibly complex and heartbreakingly difficult. I’m so sorry that you and your daughter are going through it and I offer my love and support to all of you as you find your way through.

    • Anne, I don’t know your story, but perhaps some of the autistic facebook groups might be able to offer input? “Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance” has several neurotypical and autistic parents of autistic children. Sometimes they can offer feedback, or thoughts, or steps that can help. WrightsLaw also has a facebook page. I don’t know if they answer questions, but they post a LOT regarding legal issues re. disability situations.

  2. Are you sure Katie isn’t an adult trapped in a teens body? The depth of her words melt my heart. I’m sure you don’t want her to understand, because that means she feels it, too, but it’s too late. This beautiful, brilliant young lady does get it. All of it. She has processed it, understands it, and has no problem with it. It’s given her a different outlook on life that most adults don’t even “get”. She looks out for her sister. Katie is going to change the world. She’s already been changing Brooke’s world. This reminds me of those innocent words she spoke when Brooke was younger & I think at a Doctor or Therapists office. “Every time you give her a choice, she always repeats the last thing you say. Do you want milk or juice? She answers juice, even if she wanted milk.” Katie is going to continue doing great things in this world. How can she not? She has an amazing role model she calls Mom.

  3. You are teaching her how to really love and she will have that for her whole life…
    What a great gift for a wonderful child.
    Dad

  4. this was incredibly beautiful! bittersweetingly so. (maybe that’s not a word, but I use it) and it’s also why the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. nothing like that mother/daughter bond! my mama’s gone (21 yrs. ago she stepped out into eternity) but I have 3 daughters. I was so sorry when my only sister got sons (3). there’s a connection level w/o words and you just ‘get’ stuff, like you say

  5. Oh, Jess. God, I have so been there. Both “there”s, actually. I served Katie’s role in that conversation separately with both my mom and dad (and Caley, of course, but as I’m her big sister there’s no role reversal there). And I’ve been neck deep (heck, over my head), in generalized anxiety. Heck, I am still there at least once a week – those moments where you want to just curl up in a ball and hide from the fear, only it never truly works. Medication and therapy may have given me my functioning back but the anxiety will never really leave, not completely. My impetus for getting help was when I noticed that I was so anxious that I couldn’t even function enough to fulfill my role helping Caley function. That’s when I knew I couldn’t keep trying to push through – that something needed to change. And, thank heavens for medication, it has. But it’s still hard. Getting better, but hard.

    I guess I wrote all this to tell you that I get it. I really do. And I’m sending you a massive supportive hug right now. I’m glad you talk about this stuff – it makes it easier for the rest of us to talk, too.

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