When Alex was little I learned about Sensory Processing Disorders. The OT teaching the sectional at the conference I attended had participants take and score a sensory profile. Mine showed moderate to severe sensory dysfunction in all areas. I’m mostly defensive. I don’t like noise, most touch feels overwhelming to me, especially on my face and head, and I don’t like too much vestibular (inner ear) stimuli, but I move my limbs a lot, especially when I’m tired or stressed. I do have oral/taste cravings though…so if you catch me swiping all your Wint-O-Green Lifesavers and chomping them down one after the other, I ask for forgiveness in advance, it’s hard to help myself.
Then along comes Ben. He soothes himself by touching my hair, he’s hearing impaired and seeks noise all the time, except if it suddenly becomes too much, at which point wailing ensues; and he can’t stand my jiggling.
We’re quite a pair. Everything about my sensory needs demands quiet solitude and everything about his needs is exactly the opposite. And we’re constantly at odds.
It’s spring break and my husband is working out of town. That means from the time he gets up before 5am until he falls asleep in my lap at 8:30pm, we delicately navigate the minuscule space between his needs and mine.
Because I understand his needs, and I get that they’re needs, just as much as mine are. But sometimes it’s impossible to take care of him and myself. Sometimes I hide. Sometimes I lose my cool. And I always always feel rotten about it.
It helps when the weather is fine and we can both blow off steam outside, that seems to be our sweet spot, playing outside. But when the weather doesn’t cooperate and we’re stuck in these 4 walls, all bets are off.
This is where self care reaches a dead end. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can only be the caregiver I need and want to be when I prioritize self care, but how do I make that happen on long, rainy weeks, cramped into a house around the clock together. Because believe me, going out to do something “fun” won’t help.
I adore this child beyond words, and I will never stop seeking those ever evasive solutions to these situations, for him and me both.