Kel Autism, It's a Tink Thing 2 Comments

I haven’t blogged on here for a little while. This would be because a) I probably didn’t have anything blog-worthy to say that would make a decent-length post and, b) I’m too bloody tired.

I’ve been tired before. I’m a mum to two kids – of course I have. I’ve spoken about it before. But this, this that’s happening now, is a whole new other kind of tired. Everything aches. So much. My chest hurts and the tension across my shoulders is agony at times. I’m not sleeping well, partly because Tink is going through a bad phase of sleeping, where she either won’t go to bed at her usual time, resulting in her either staying up until she flags, or lying in bed with one of us in the hope she will calm down and drop off, or she’s waking up super-early again (I do laugh at those people who bemoan a 6.30am wake-up call from their little monsters! 6.30 is a lovely lie-in in this house!).  On a really fun day, we’ll have both, so Tink is ratty and tired too.  Then she falls asleep in the afternoon and the whole thing starts all over again.

The other reason I’m not managing much sleep is that I suffer with anxiety, and this is much, much worse at night.  When I think about ‘anxiety’, I picture a little gremlin-type figure, hunched up in the dark, waiting to strike.  Anxiety is an absolute bastard. It’s no good people telling you “it will be ok”, or “think positive” when you have anxiety. It doesn’t work like that. No matter what you do, how hard you try, you just can’t help feeling and thinking what you do.  And, of course, when you’ve had little sleep, everything is ten times more difficult.

I have so many things whirling around in my mind, that I feel it’s going to explode, and I just can’t cope much longer. Something has to give.  But, the question is, what?  The obvious answer is work. I love my job. It’s fun. I go to work and have fun, and how many people can honestly say that?  However, there is also a huge amount of responsibility when you’re the manager of an early years setting, and it’s this that keeps me awake at night.  People say “you shouldn’t take it home with you,” but I have to. Literally. I have no office at work, so I have to do admin and other preparation at home, or it just won’t get done.  Then there are emails from parents and other people that I have to answer there and then, or I’ll forget to do it all as I’m so knackered and my brain is mush. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff going on to keep our little Preschool ticking over on a day-to-day basis and I’m just not sure I can cope with the responsibility of it all right now.

I have a fair amount of responsibility in my life. As well as work, I am a mother; I have two small people who are totally dependent on me (and their dad, but a lot is me) for keeping them alive. (Do you ever get to the end of the day and think “I did it! Nobody died!”? Or is that just me?!) I run a home. Sure, it’s a bit grubby and untidy – housework is quite low on my list of favourite things to do with my spare time (mainly because there is no such thing as ‘spare time’), but I sort the bills and make sure it all gets paid on time, I do the shopping, washing, clean the bits that really need cleaning… I do all the driving; hubby would love to learn but we can’t afford two cars and I doubt I’d ever get in or let the kids in any car he was driving (road rage, anyone?). I make sure the homework gets done, that the reading books are read and that parents’ evening appointments are booked and attended.

Please don’t misunderstand – I don’t mean to sound like some sort of martyr and that I do all this with no support – Dave works bloody hard at his job and earns a good wage for us, but that really is his main priority and all the rest is up to me. I just see it as being a mum, like millions of other women.

However, now, I have the added bonus of being responsible for Tink’s condition. By which, I mean it’s me that is learning all I can about it in order for us as parents to be able to make informed choices and decisions affecting her future. It’s me that will be the one to arrange appointments and meetings for her and about her. Although Dave will come when he can, it’s likely it will more often than not be me that goes to those appointments and meetings. It’s me that lies awake at night worrying about what the future holds (and don’t tell me there’s no point worrying, I know, but I’m anxious, remember?!)

So, right now I’m having a real dilemma about what to do. I’m just not sure I can be the responsible one at work any more. I don’t want to have to worry that should the lovely Ofsted inspector come knocking, that my team can confidently talk them through how we promote fundamental British values, or have to justify how we’ve spent the paltry amount of extra funding given to our less privileged children to promote their development, or to be the one to make the decisions any more. I just want to go to work and support the children in their play to help them to grow. And come home again.

Then I can focus on what is truly my priority – my own family. I need to be strong to fight the inevitable battles that our new life is likely to throw our way. I have sought advice from fellow managers and autism mums alike, and the general consensus seems to be that I need to put my family first and there will always be other jobs. But it’s easier said than done when the hours I work are ideal, the pay (although never great in this line of work) is enough and, other than the responsibility, I enjoy what I do. I’m hoping that in time, this will all become quite normal, and manageable, but until then…

… This is what’s keeping me awake at night. It’s currently 1.23am… I and there’s a Tink awake in bed with me.

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2 Comments on "Torn"

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My son with autism is 35….years old. Yours is a dilemma for all of us at the beginning of our Autism Journey. I’ve always worked, at least part-time, for all but about 12 months (not all at the same time) of his WHOLE LIFE. And how I coped was….I worked part-time. Working kept (keeps) me sane. Working keeps me connected to my non-autism life. Working keeps me refreshed enough to cope with autism related stress. Working makes me feel I’ve done something (in a day) besides making sure My Kiddo has kept up with his academics and done the work… Read more »