I’ve Been There

It’s night time. He had a late nap. That’s never a good sign.

But tonight I’m lucky. The melatonin worked this time. So far…

I am writing this while sitting on the floor in his room, hoping he is down for good. Hoping that if he gets out of bed, it is only to come climb into bed with us, where the worst thing that could happen is having to sleep on the couch because he kicks me in his sleep.

A fellow autism parent posted about accidentally falling asleep at night (heaven forbid!) and having her autistic 5-year-old completely destroy their bathroom. And she had to deal with it at 3am, completely exhausted, and at her wits end.

I see story after story from other parents.

I know you have your stories too. And to all of you going through it right now, I just want you to know…

I’ve been there.

It’s always worse at night. 

…when you choose to just hide the mess or cover it up instead of cleaning it up… because you tell yourself you’ll do it in the morning because you’re just too tired now.

I’ve been there.

When you jump at the sound of any door knob in your house turning at night wondering which kid it is and hoping it’s not the one (but already knowing it is) who will require you to get out of bed in the middle of the night to make chicken nuggets or clean up another inevitable mess, or try to entertain with an electronic device that is broken or has a dead battery or one of a thousand things you have to do at night when all you want to do is get more than 4 hours of sleep…

Yeah. I’ve been there too. 

When your fuse is as short as your child’s and you end up yelling at your child for something they have no control over. Then feeling awful and guilty about it as you argue with your spouse about who has had “LESS SLEEP” or who caused the meltdown…

I’ve been there.

Where you rejoice if the the clock said “PM” when they went down to sleep, but cry inside if it is before 7:00… Because it’s always worse at night. And if they fell asleep before 7pm, they will be up at…

…whatever time you were planning on falling asleep or just after.

And whatever activities they want to do at night is fair game for them because you don’t want to risk a meltdown, waking the entire house up when there are other people sleeping who also NEED their sleep.

Yeah. I’ve been there. I’ve brewed pots of coffee at 10pm.

I’ve sang the 3am “Rocking Chair Blues.”

I’ve resorted to the “do whatever you want” style of parenting…

You know, where you parent by:

  • …just feeding him chips and Oreos in the middle of the night in the off chance he is just hungry.
  • …letting him just take a bath at 2am because it’s obviously what he wants and you just don’t care anymore…
  • …holding him while he lays his head on your shoulder until your arms are numb, but not daring to move lest it trigger an hour-long meltdown.
  • …desperately trying to hide every single noise making toy before he wants to play with them for the rest of the night.
  • …sitting him in front of an iPad for … an hour, 2 hours, 5 hours, hell… the whole night if it means you can close your God-forsaken eyes for just a few minutes.

I’ve been there. And if you are reading this when I actually posted it, you are probably there right now, at 0-dark thirty in the morning.

I’m not gonna tell you that “it will all be okay.”  Right now, you don’t need to hear that.

It’s not okay right now. Because all you want to do is sleep. And you can’t. And sometimes you just need to know that you are not alone in this.

You are not alone. There is a whole community of support here.

I’ve been there. We’ve been there. Some of us are there right now.

It may be a tough time…it may be a struggle…but we’re all in it together.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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