From Guilt to Gratitude – Diary of a Baba
Posted on September 8, 2018
We had a pretty fun and packed Labor day vacation but the guilt began to seep in as the plane landed and as we returned home at midnight on Monday. Mychi and I both had long back to back days this week and no matter how intentional we wanted to be at that moment, we knew the transition back wasn’t going to be easy on Collin (and us). For autistics, and all children I’m sure, it is all about transitions.
Sometimes you see the storm coming, sometimes you don’t. And that is okay. By day 2 of vacation, I could tell Collin was experiencing social and physical exhaustion. He was taking super long naps (2.5 hours!) and his sensitivities were particularly high but I could tell he was really trying to enjoy himself. We went to the zoo (twice even!), went swimming, stayed out late every night and visited friends and family.
Still, it felt like he was missing his stability, his comfort, his routine. By day 3, he said he missed “brown house,” our home. Don’t get me wrong, he had a GREAT time but it was a reminder that we all need some space and alone time.
That night as we were getting home, instead of letting the guilt creep into every crevice like I usually do, I turned towards gratitude for the support around us. We are fortunate we have Mychi’s mom, who lives with us and can support us when these times come.
“Instead of letting the guilt creep into every crevice like I usually do, I turned towards gratitude for the support around us.”
There were some challenging starts to the week like Collin being thrown off (screaming and yelling, in fact) when I didn’t take him to school this week, like I usually do. I’m proud that i didn’t beat myself up over this. I began to look at who is there for Collin when we are not. “Grandma (or bà ngoại)” has been there for us over the past year. This is often taken for granted.
But this intergenerational love is complicated. They love each other and they bicker at each other. She doesn’t exactly believe in our parenting practices or listen to the therapists BUT she has essentially become the constant for Collin. Without a doubt, every morning she will cook for him and everyday will pick him up after school.
Her presence has allowed for more spaciousness in our family. From basic things like allowing us to come home later to supporting Mychi when I’m away. She also helps us avoid conflicts and tensions when we have scheduling issues. Too many parents deal with a lot of shit in isolation. She becomes a backbone for what we have.
She shows her joy and love not by telling us but in her own way. She pours her emotions into cooking pho, banh xeo, and sometimes wontons, which she’s proud of. She cleans after us, and anticipates our needs, among other things. The other morning, Collin requested for grandma to walk him to school instead of me. it was sweet.
As we prepare for another full week of activities joining thousands on the street for climate, jobs and justice, Im glad i made some space, even briefly, to reflect and recharge. Im grateful for the love and support we have around us. See many of you all on the streets <3