when they talk, we have to listen!
understanding big A’s emotions has always been a challenge for me. as an autism mom who suffers from depression, I never want to see my sweet boy upset or angry. often times, I would be so focused on ‘making him feel better’, I would completely disregard his need for space and time to work through those feelings.
and then one day he sat me down
big A had been having a rough day in school (he is so routine focused, so virtual school has been a challenge for him) and without asking questions I urged him to stop crying, get back in class and complete the assignment he was supposed to be working on. without meaning to, I was completely dismissive of my baby’s feelings – and the conversation that followed left me astounded at his maturity.
big A asked me to sit down and just listen to him for a moment, so I did as he asked and gave him my undivided attention. he looked me straight in the eye (which was another win for the day because I usually have to remind him to look at the people he’s talking to) and said,
“mom, I know you don’t like it when I cry, but sometimes I just need some time to feel better, okay?”
he explained to me that I can’t always expect him to feel fine just because I feel like he should be. he said that there are moments where he needs more time to just be in his feelings, and that he needed me to be okay with that.
big A has always had a difficult time putting his feelings into words, summing up his emotions into vague statements like: because I’m sad, because I don’t want to do it, because you made me angry, etcetera. but on this day, he was everything I always known he can be:
ever since that day, when big A looks like he has something on his mind the first thing I ask is
“are you okay?”
most of the time he says yes, but I know his tells, so I follow with you
“do you need some time to feel better?”
he usually answers that with a yes, too. so I do what he taught me to do as a parent, give him his time and his space and reassure him that I am always there to talk whenever he is ready. our communication has done nothing but improve since then.
as adults, and more importantly parents, it’s important to remember that even when we think we know better and have our kid’s best interests at heart – we still have so much to learn.