Crumbs on the Counter

Hi.

My name is Carrie.

I am married to a man named Joe, and we have five kids.

Our second son, Jack, is diagnosed with autism.

Right now, we are a family attempting to get through a pandemic with as much grace, humor, and kindness as we can muster.

This is harder than one might think.

Today, I yelled about crumbs on the counter.

You could hardly see them, these crumbs. Unless you squinted and tilted your head at a certain angle and the overhead lights were on full blast.

But I saw them.

And they ticked me off like a bomb.

They were a combination of graham crackers, stale cereal, and cinnamon toast.

These crumbs, they represented everything that is not right in my life right now.

They stand for all the mess, and the madness, and the uncertainty we face.

After I yelled and wiped it all up, I tried to figure out new math.

I told my 11-year old to carry the one but forget about the two but really, I had no idea what I was saying.

I tried to help my daughter understand genetics but I never really understood all that stuff.

I announced we weren’t having any snacks until lunch time because we all just ate breakfast and I’ve had enough with the granola bars already.

I told Jack it was time to do some jumping so his body would be calm and regulated and he sneered that he didn’t need to and he was hungry and when could he have a sandwich.

The he started to bite his cuticles.

For one single hot-sun second, I hated autism. Not the boy—never the boy—but the diagnosis that made him ask 736 times an hour if Easter was canceled, and chew his fingernails until they’re raw.

I am not a good person.

I am not cut out for this.

I am not cut out to be a mother and a teacher and an occupational therapist.

I cannot possibly cook three meals a day for seven people because according to new math, that is 3,498 meals a day, not including snacks and large cups of milk left near the sink.

I am afraid someone I know may die.

Today, I hid in the kitchen and shoved a handful of Wheat Thins in my mouth and I thought about how fat I was going to be when this was all said and done. I’d probably need to buy new all new jeans.

Then I felt guilty because I was worrying about stupid things like calories and crackers when there are real people—nurses and doctors and health care workers—out on the front lines risking their lives every day.

I told my husband Joe that I loved him, but he needed to get away from me.

Then I imagined one of us getting sick and having to go to the hospital, alone. Hooked up to a ventilator, alone. Dying, alone.

I want to go out for dinner. I want to sit in a booth and order an appetizer and a cocktail and not have to wash a single dish.

I am selfish.

I am alone.

Maybe I am depressed.

These days, my brain does this. It bounces around like a pogo stick, trying to find purchase upon slippery pavement.

Nothing has meaning.

Everything has meaning.

Family is the most important thing.

My family is driving me crazy.

So I made dinner. Cheeseburgers on the grill and pickles and tomatoes and ketchup in the sunny air.

I smelled the grill and I watched my husband through the window and I thought of springtime.

I love this man.

We cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher.

I changed out of my day-time pajamas and into my night-time pajamas. The difference is mostly the fabric.

We ordered kids in and out of the shower and watched some television.

I pet my dog.

He is a good dog.

The best dog, really.

In bed at last, I turned out the lights.

I thought about the day—the crumbs and the math and the man and the cheeseburgers—and decided to give myself grace.

Like a soft, warm blanket, I felt its warmth.

I forgave myself.

I forgive myself.

So I may begin again tomorrow.  

Written by, Carrie Cariello

Carrie Cariello is the author of What Color Is Monday, How Autism Changed One Family for the Better, and Someone I’m With Has Autism. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, Joe, and their five children. 

Carrie is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY Parents, the TODAY Show, Parents.com. She has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, and also has a TEDx talk.

She speaks regularly about autism, marriage, and motherhood, and writes a weekly blog at www.carriecariello.com. One of her essays, “I Know What Causes Autism,” was featured as one of the Huffington Post’s best of 2015, and her piece, “I Know Why He Has Autism,” was named one of the top blog posts of 2017 by the TODAY Show.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

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 our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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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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