Sometimes, We Argue

Hey buddy, I am sorry you heard Daddy and I argue tonight.

I know it’s scary. But sometimes, people disagree.

No, no one is getting a divorce. I promise.

I have known your father since I was nineteen years old. Yes, that’s right, back in 1994.

We went to the same college, but we actually met in a restaurant, where we both worked. It was the end of August, right before classes started.

No, I don’t remember what I had for lunch that afternoon.

No, I can’t remember what day of the week it was.

I don’t remember things the way you do. It’s like I always tell you, because of your autism, you have a fantastic memory.

Anyway, he was a cook, and I was a server. And when we were first introduced, his voice was smooth, and calm. The second he spoke, I was captivated.

What did we argue about tonight? Nothing. And everything.

I guess it started when he suggested I use less water to boil the pasta for dinner.

Then I said I was tired of the cooking and he could make dinner himself if he was so good at it.

And before you know it, we were screaming at each other about everything from spaghetti to politics to the way he shouts into the phone on his conference calls every afternoon.

I’m not proud of this.

I’m sorry.

The thing is, your dad is trying to reschedule patients and handle emergency calls and figure out how the world of dentistry will look once our nation re-opens.

I’m trying to avoid reading the news, but like a moth to a flame, I am drawn time and time again. I read about people dying alone in the hospital, and all the statistics, and potential shortages.

You know, your dad and I, we huddle together in the living room and whisper about the number of cases, and ventilators, and the economy.

Then we plaster big fake plastic smiles on our faces and grit our teeth and tell each one of you it will be okay, everything is okay.

No, the smiles aren’t actually made of plastic, buddy. That’s just an expression. It means—well, whatever, it just means we don’t want you to worry.

In other words, we are trying to inch a family forward in the midst of a pandemic and that can be some very stressful stuff right there.

Mostly, we argued because we are scared.

We are scared the world will never be the same.

I know, those aren’t the exact words you heard us sling at each other across the kitchen counter, but there it is.  

See, arguments between married people are rarely what they seem.

I guess you could say an argument is kind of like a tree.

First, you have loud bright leaves shouting against the sky.

These leaves, they are attached to sturdy, stubborn branches. The branches hold the leaves up high and mighty. They refuse to bend. They cannot see or hear beyond their own reach.

Then there is the trunk. Tall, and strong, the trunk is the heart. Like shock waves, it absorbs the hurt, and the worry, and the fear.

But listen, my son. The most important part of the tree is its roots.

The roots are buried deep in the warm soil. They are safe, and cozy, and secure. They are the very beginning.

The roots hold the memory of sweet newborns swaddled in blankets, and kindergarten graduation, and strained IEP meetings.

They are soft smiles across the dinner table, and holding hands on the couch after all the kids are in bed.

They are grace, and forgiveness, and humility.

The roots ground us to one another, even when the leaves are shouting and the branches won’t  yield.

I love your father. I love him so much I can’t breathe.

Yes, he drives me crazy. I hate the way he smells a carton of milk every time he opens it and his snoring may bring me to the brink of insanity, but I love him.

This marriage stuff is hard.

This parenting stuff is hard.

We are trying.

We are sorry.

My son, close your eyes, try and sleep. Tomorrow morning will be better. It always is, buddy.

I think it was a Saturday, when I met him. I remember it was a beautiful day. The late summer sun shined bright, and certain.

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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