I haven't written much about Kaeden in his new home. I haven't been able to come to terms with how i feel about it yet. i have so many mixed emotions running through me with the advent of his new living arrangement that i can't seem to come to a peaceful place in my mind. there is so much to consider and so much pain, so much freedom, so much peace, so much hope. people keep asking me how he's doing in his new home. but, what they don't ask is how i am doing with my decision to place him there. and i am glad they haven't asked, because the answer is one which would take me a million years to formulate. so, i'm going to answer this in two parts to the best of my ability.
Part One: How is Kaeden doing in his new home?
Kaeden seems very happy with his new surroundings. The times I have called to check on how he's doing with the care givers, i have had nothing but positive reinforcement thrown in my face. a very good thing. they are happy with how he has adjusted to the rules, his choices to be involved with the other kids and the group activities. When i ask him, he answers with happiness. he seems to me to be very proud of this new arrangement, almost as if this was his lot in life and he finally has the opportunity to fit into his special place. he tells me (this is big) of activities they have done, what he eats, where they have gone. when i ask if he likes his new room, he proudly tells me that it is great, clean, and really 'cool'. he talks about the different kids who are his friends (kaeden tends to befriend everyone, which is sometimes good, but not always, and so i don't know what this exactly means...other than he has other kids with whom to play which is very positive). so, all in all, though school itself is still a big challenge and not exactly a cake walk, he seems completely at ease and happy in his new living arrangement.
Part Two: How is Mama Doing with the new living arrangement?
I am in a state of complete confusion. One minute i feel totally relieved that i made this decision, and in the next i can't help but let tears slide down my cheeks as a huge dose of guilt tugs at my heartstrings. people will say: Oh, you shouldn't feel guilty, you should be happy it is working out.
But noone can tell me how to feel.
guilt is part of being a mother, and in my case, guilt has been a factor of mothering my son for every minute of his life. this is just another phase of those guilty feelings, and one more phase i will forever carry with me. it hits me in the strangest of moments:: how could you just let your son go live someplace else? he should be here with you. think about the abandonment he must feel. you didn't even get a chance to kiss him goodnight. i wonder if he brushed his teeth today? did anyone give him a hug when he got angry today? did he get angry today? nobody can give him love like you can. we're supposed to be a family.
and the guilt that hits me most often of all, and hardest, is the guilt i feel when i realize i am more at peace and more relaxed and less stressed than i have been in years.
there are no more arguments in the mornings, no more hiding things from papa to try to prevent another round of fights between the two of them. there are no more struggles between brothers that lead to physical violence and fear of someone really getting hurt. there are no more battles to worry about every day i open my eyes to face the morning sunshine, worry rather than the excitement of a new day on my face, hovering behind my eyelids. kaeden's living away from home has managed to lift all these issues. and in its place i feel guilt because i wasn't able to handle it all, because i wasn't able to make the changes needed to survive as a family living under one roof.
and yet, in that same moment, i feel peace wash over me. my son is happy, playing among friends, being cared for in a place where he isn't having so many struggles every day of his life. this is an opportunity for him to grow, to become more independent, for him to be discovered in a goverment system that will assure him a future (maybe not the future i dreamed of, but a future of his own without mama having to hover and smother him for the rest of his life), whatever that may mean. my son feels pride and i see that etched on his face every time i see him.
and our home, our haven? it is without anger, without the nervous energy fluttering forever around. it is a place my lil guy can wake up in the morning and walk down the stairs without worrying about being teased, without wondering if kaeden's meds have kicked in and he can enter the bathroom without his first words being "mmmmaaaaammaaaaa, kaeden......." the glint in kaeden's eyes showing off his plan to terrorize. jari can now walk down the steps, where i greet him when i hear his little pitter patter across the floor, with a smile and good morning, where he returns with a : good morning mama. which, had become non-existant as i struggled to bark out tasks and get it all done before the dread of the bus pulling up at our door managed to bring some sense of calm after the storm.
erwin has changed. in just 3 weeks, i see my husband returning to the easy-going man i first learned to love all those years ago. he comes home to a cleaner home, we eat dinner together without reminders to eat nice, or a mess covering the entire table. we relax with a game or a movie or a story in the evening before settling jari in for the night. we don't hear kaeden's feet trampling across the floor into the wee hours of the night, erwin getting more irritated as he hears furniture being shuffled across the floor at midnight after the tenth time of tucking kaeden in (or berating him) and telling him this is the last time. there are no more stolen treats littering the folds of the couch, or under the tv cvupboard. the smell of urine from wet diapers and bedding doesn't saturate the air. the laundry loads are halved.
so, all this peace in our home, it feels like freedom. but with that freedom comes regret. regret that our son can't be here to share this family home dream i have always envisioned. that we just couldn't cut it as parents of an autistic child.
there is yet another aspect to this. we did manage it. we made a decision for our son and our family which seem to be the ideal decision based with what path our lives led. none of us found relaxation and peace within the confines of our family, and now all of us seem to have discovered it. we tried our best (and sometimes our not so best) to make it work, but we couldn't. too many factors were involved to make a peaceful home. but the decision to let kaeden go has been met with the rewards of more harmony. for everyone.
the weekends are a time i treasure. though they bring about more stress and the normalcy of life as we have known it (arguments, fights, brotherly love, messes, but also kaeden's help, his hugs, his smiling eyes, his excited stories) when we are back together, we have had a chance to recharge, a chance to taste freedom, a cahnce to just be. all of us. and with that comes the knowledge that we can manage these days together, and we'll all have a little break again soon if it gets to be too much. the weeks are definitely easier. making the weekend easier as well.
i hope that over time my husband can learn to be more relaxed during the weekend as well. that there will come a time when he can bond with our son and forgive the mistakes. when he can be a dad and not a guard, when he can take a moment to show kaeden how much he cares, not in words but in actions. because he does care, as he has shown in his attendance at appointments, his vision for kaeden and our family, his living in stress and disorganisation. but towards kaeden himself, it has been and continues to be a struggle. erwin loves deeply and heartily, but his expression of his love is sometimes, and certainly for kaeden, difficult to discover and reel in. he is finding peace again, as a man, as a father, as a husband. i pray for the peace to open up and allow kaeden in.
so, how am i doing with the adjustment? it's a mixed media of emotions. but in general, i feel more myself and less niggling worry than i have in ages. i just have to come to terms that this is all okay. that i didn't let my son go, but opened up a new world for him, and our family in return. that my son is, and always will be my son. that though i may not get to kiss him goodnight every day of the week, my love for him shines through in the pain i have endured in letting him find himself. to just be kaeden.
the pain is opening up a new world of sunshine and rainbows and flowers filled with beautiful butterfly wings sparking in the sun. for all of us.