Yesterday, in addition to an oil change, I planned to ask if the rear cup holders and the armrest could be replaced. But geez, that kind of damage is far from normal. What would the service manager think when he saw the inside of my car? What kind of monster was I hauling around in the backseat? What kind of parent would let that kind of damage happen? I felt like I had to offer an explanation.
“I have a child with autism,” is the explanation I found myself giving. A flat-out lie. Why did I say that? Do I believe autism is more widely understood than ADHD? That an autistic child’s behavior is more readily forgiven?
I’m not ashamed of my child with ADHD. I didn’t lie to protect her from a stranger’s judgement. I lied about her to protect myself. I lied because I’m ashamed of myself for being an incompetent adult and parent. That car is a metaphor for my life; visible evidence of how poorly I cope with the challenges presented by my daughter’s condition.
It’s my responsibility to clean up the car. To have the oil changed on schedule. To make arrangements for repairs when needed. That car should keep running for a long, long time. Its poor condition is a simply a reflection of the care I give it.
Natalie is growing up, learning to cope, and right now we’re enjoying fabulous results from her medications. I no longer feel overwhelmed and exhausted every minute of every day as I had for the last 8 years. Thanks to Risperdal Natalie rarely acts out with aggression. I’m able to enjoy more of the time I spend with her. Natalie is only 10 years old, and I know there are many challenges ahead, but I’m starting to believe that the most difficult years are behind us.
Now I need to catch up to this new reality. Throw away all of the garbage in the car. Have the car detailed, the carpet and upholstery cleaned. Fix all of the things I’ve left broken.