It is much easier with two. Two people who can give each other a break from time to time. The Man will often take The Boy to the park on a whim, or just for a ride in his truck (often ending with a trip to DQ). I can’t tell you how much I love that, and appreciate him and am AMAZED at just having someone like him to do that. The three of us are together only about every six weeks, and it’s not perfect all the time (what blended family is? For that matter, what typical family is?), but I appreciate it all the more because of the time when it is just we two, and I. am. it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love spending alone time with my son. There aren’t words to describe the bond we have, and we are silly together and go on adventures together… We are lucky to like each other a great deal. He is a fantastic kid, smart as a whip with an amazing sense of humor, an uncanny memory, and so many special talents.
But we have some dark times, too. We have some days where a cloud hangs over him and just won’t let go. We have days when I can do nothing right (in his eyes and/or my own), and it seems like tears are flowing from dawn until dusk. My hair has been pulled, I have been punched, bitten, and kicked. I have lost it myself, at the end of my rope, not having any inkling of what to do besides curl up and cry.
Having two of us to tag-team, as it were, prevents many (not all) of those dark times from getting that far. If one of us is getting overwhelmed and irritated, the other will do something about it. And THIS is how adult relationships survive around autism (and really in any family). Brace yourself, because I’m going to say something controversial: Kids should not come first above all else. That relationship between the adults is paramount, because if that falters, the support for the family disappears. This is especially hard for us special needs parents to understand because our kids need us so much more than typical kids. But then, our partners need us so much more than typical partners do, too, right? Raising a special needs kid is hard. We must take care of ourselves, and we must take care of our partners. We must nurture the “us”. If we make that a priority, we and our partners can take care of everybody else. Together.