Emotional Investment

Functionally I have three teenagers in my house. One is twenty years old and has a common autistic pattern of asynchronous development, which means chronologically he’s twenty, but in many social and emotional ways he’s in his mid teens. He’s the one I’ll be launching into a residential program in January, which has the similar life weight as heading off for college. We’re riding the push-pull emotional roller coaster of a child who wants more independence than he’s quite ready for and who doesn’t want to learn from his mom anymore. The other two are chronologically teens, but they struggle with some mental health issues which have pushed them into self awareness and communication skills that are beyond their years. They are often puzzled or frustrated by the behavior of “typical” teenagers. (I put typical in scare quotes, because it only exists statistically. No individual you examine will ever be completely typical.) I’m very grateful for the growing self awareness of my two youngest and I hope that the twenty year old is able to develop something similar using his neuro-atypical thought processes.

Parenting these three is a significant time commitment right now. Particularly since the various atypicalities have pushed us into a partial homeschooling arrangement. Their best learning paths require both on campus time and some classes done at home. I don’t have to create curriculum, but I do have to be the enforcer of schedule and the organizer of assignments. Lately I’ve been an exercise buddy for my son who is doing a PE class. Thirty minutes of walking every day for two weeks. The walking is good for me because I need more exercise. It is good to spend time with him just talking about all of the things. He’s good company. I can see all the ways these exercise requirements are forcing him to face some personal demons as well as get him up from his computer. The home school stuff is being really good, and is obviously the right educational pathway for us right now. But the mental effort I expend on it can be exhausting.

Parenting is tiring. This isn’t news. And I’ll definitely take the fatigue of assisting my child’s growth over the despairing weariness of watching my child getting smaller and more depressed. I guess I’m just pausing to acknowledge that I’m tired and that parenting is using up much of the creative space that opened up when Planet Mercenary stopped demanding full attention.