Some nights I just want to curl up and shut out the world. If I could, I'd stop it spinning and climb off, just for a little while, until my head stopped pounding. Sometimes I need to shut the world out but it's usually those times when I can't. I have a responsibility to a teenager with autism and unless you've been there yourself, just take my word for it that a responsibility of this magnitude is so great, the pounding inside your head feels like drums, beat beat beat, smashing against your skull until you can take it no longer. My teenager says she's weird, uncool, stupid, an idiot. She wants to be like the cool kids, she wants to be 'normal'. She goes into hysterics as she raises her voice at me, telling me I don't understand. She cries, then she cries some more. I look at her and feel completely useless. I wonder if I'm a rubbish mum, if someone else can do better. I ask myself if I need help to raise this teenager who has discovered she isn't like other kids.
I tell her how special she is, how incredible she is, how amazing she is. She tells me her life is confusing. I tell her she has more friends than I've ever had in all my 43 years. She tells me she knows. Then the cries some more, not really knowing why she's crying. I want to hug her, hold her close to my chest like I used to when she was a babe in arms. But I know as soon as I hug her she'll cry even more. And I want her to stop crying; I want her to laugh, to smile, to look at me with those gorgeous Malteser eyes and the red rosy cheeks. Instead she looks at me with tear stained cheeks and a snotty nose. She's still my baby. But she's growing up. It's as hard for me as it is for her, in so many different ways. I'm learning every day, just like she is. I'm not autistic. Sometimes I wish I was so that I understood her better. Then she goes to bed and I cry. And then I say 'Fuck you, autism, fuck you.'