Regret, Remorse, Repentance

Every trip to the store ends the same way – with my son screaming and flailing on the floor. It is inevitable and without fail.

It doesn’t matter what kind of distractions I use, what type of approach or discipline, he is a ticking time bomb, and within 15 to 20 minutes I will need to leave.

It makes it impossible to finish any type of trip to the store or anywhere else really.

I would be completely mortified when he screamed, eventually leaving the store in desperation with a thrashing toddler held under my arm like a surfboard.

On this day, like so many days, my son was having a nasty meltdown in the middle of the store.

Generally our trips begin with him in the seat of the cart, then he moves to the back of the cart while I hold his arm, then I let him walk while holding my hand, which eventually ends with me standing still while he slumps on the floor angry because I won’t let go of his hand.

The entire time is filled with some combination of crying, screaming, and angry noise. 

This day was the same, but also was so different because of a small action from a stranger that caused a ripple effect within me.

On this day, he was writhing and howling so violently I could not even hold him.

I was hot, sweaty, and, most of all, just wanted to close my eyes and make it stop.

An older gentleman walked by and made a comment in my direction. I couldn’t hear him clearly over the screaming, but I knew it wasn’t a compliment on my parenting.

A lady near us stood frozen with her jaw dropped in horror as she looked between the older man and me. Her face told me the comment must have been awful.

Of course, I became even more flustered but was determined not to leave the store because of this man’s judgements, but within a few minutes had to leave because of my son’s behavior. 

As I walked towards the registers, I happened to cross paths with this man again. I was still upset and made a snide comment to him.

I don’t think he even heard, but I was still instantly filled with regret. My comment was not awful, I don’t even remember what I said, but to lash out was not like me and didn’t fit with how I want to live my life.

I try to forgive without needing apology and turn the other cheek.

Still, I am human. I’m sure the man immediately forgot our interaction, but I still felt remorseful. 

I’m sorry.  

I also seek forgiveness for the times I’ve judged other parents. The ones whose children I thought they couldn’t control, didn’t discipline, or let run their lives. 

I’m sorry. 

Most of all, I want to apologize to my son. For the times I had no patience, the times I didn’t understand his frustration or that he was not ignoring me out of defiance.

I know I couldn’t have recognized his autism sooner and couldn’t have seen the signs, because I did not even know the signs.

Even now, 6 months after his autism diagnosis, I want to continually apologize for putting unrealistic expectations on him or underestimating his capabilities. 

Taking him in public got easier for me.  I’m not sure when, exactly, but somewhere between being so tired I had no energy to care and when my son received his autism diagnosis.

There are times I still find myself embarrassed, but I know there is nothing I can do to prevent it.

There are times I still find myself embarrassed, but I know there is nothing I can do to prevent it.

It is not an option to sit in my house all day, so I just deal with it and know his public meltdowns are not a reflection of me or my parenting abilities.

You never truly understand until you have a child like mine.

The child that no matter what “discipline” or “parenting” method you try is still going to be themselves. I get it.

The exhaustion and feelings of being a total failure. I get it.

When more days than not you cry when they’re not looking, when nobody is looking.

You make jokes about how “spirited” they are. They can teach you though – about passion, energy, and how to look at the world from a completely different angle.

They have laughter and levels of curiosity you could never explain.

Even after the meltdowns, the hitting, and the shrieks of frustration, they can run up and hug your legs and you just forget all of it.

They walk around chanting “mamamamamamamamama” and lean in to get a kiss on the forehead.

These are the moments that keep you going when all you want to do is give up and cry.

I get it now and I am so humbled. And tired. I am always tired.

Written by, Lisa Polinske

Lisa Polinske lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband of seven years and their two children. She is a boy mom of two and an autism mom of one. Her youngest was diagnosed autism spectrum disorder six months ago and her whole family is learning to navigate through the world of autism. They love outdoor adventures, movie nights, and after dinner desserts.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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