Just When I Thought I Was Too Anxious To Be a Mother, I Had a Child With Autism

One could (and would) say I am a little bit anxious, just a tad…especially when it comes to children.

I drive myself crazy watching other people’s children. I’ve pulled drowning kids out of pools and lakes while their parents were not watching them, grabbed kids away from traffic, ledges or anything that may cause an injury, again while their own parents were not watching.

When we go to a fair or some other type of event where there are a lot of people, there is a good chance I will be bringing a lost child to security or helping him/her find his/her parents. There’s more; but you get the picture. I can’t help it. I’ve always been like this. I’ve always said that I am just too anxious to be anyone’s mother.

So why not give me a child with Autism…

Welcome to a whole new level of anxiety…

I was talking to a friend at work last week. His son had just been sick; trip to the Emergency Room sick. He’s fine now, but I can imagine how frightening it must have been at the time.

From there we moved on to the subject of his own anxiety. He insists on taking his kids to the doctor for everything (in his words). I get that! It’s always worth a trip to the doctor just to hear everything is all right than to continue to worry that a cold may not be just a cold for the peace of mind. But he was beginning to feel that he was being overly protective.

Believe me, that was nothing compared to my stories.

I told him that when my son was little I would calculate the time that he would be alone until my ex got home from work if I dropped dead, “right now.”

I’d make sure there was nothing around that could hurt him if something like that were to happen. I had no reason to believe I’d be dropping dead at any time, but just in case, I had to be ready.  

I forgot to tell him that I would also force myself to watch Rescue 911 (hosted by William Shatner) when my son was little and then have nightmares about all of the horrible things they showed.

His father always asked why I insisted on watching a show that gave me nightmares. I told him I was afraid that they would show some sort of dangerous situation that I hadn’t considered yet and I might miss something important to our son’s safety.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, there were actually a few accidents that I wouldn’t have come up with in my own head unless I had seen the show.

I also forgot to tell him about the time I called my poor sister-in-law at her cottage continuously because my son’s father took him camping at the beach, near her cottage and didn’t call for two days. What if something happened to him and our son was in some tent on a beach of all places, by himself?

Fortunately his Dad’s sisters are used to me.

I’ve been a single mother for 20 years now and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but being alone with a child with special needs can be frightening at times.

1Anytime I’m sick I wonder again, if I dropped dead “right now,” how long would it be before someone knows he’s alone? What would he do? Would he be safe until someone figures this out?  As you can see, it’s not the me dropping dead that I worry about, it is him being by himself for who knows how long.

The final nugget from the tales from the anxious mother is this, when my son was young and we went grocery shopping he would get in the car, I would unload the groceries and then I would walk the 20 feet to put the cart back, in full view of the car. But I would be sure to leave his door wide open because if I happened to get hit by a car in those 20 feet (or drop dead), no one would know he was sitting in the car and I couldn’t say for sure that he would get out or let anyone know he was there. He could be sitting there for hours before someone notices. At least someone might wonder why there was a car door wide open in the parking lot and take a look inside.

In any situation, I can come up with at least a dozen disaster scenarios.  I can and do make myself crazy over this child, but he’s worth every second of my the craziness.

My son is now 22, and in case you were wondering, I do still check to see if he’s breathing at night.



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