In the evenings, I get a couple of these stolen moments. One occurs when Jack is playing his iPad - a reward for the hard work of the day. He is anything but still as he taps his feet and flaps his hands, but he is momentarily in one place. As he stands engrossed in whatever game has caught his attention that evening, I rest my cheek on his head and breathe in sweet softness of his blond hair. It's heavenly.
The second moment is my favorite. Jack has outgrown his changing table, but hasn't outgrown needing to be dressed or to have his diaper changed. So, we've moved his diapering/dressing routine on to the floor. He's still in the crib, but once he's in a bed we'll move the routine there.
Before naps or bedtime, I lay Jack's "Red" out on the floor. What is "Red", you say? Well, Red is a Halo SleepSack. Yes, Jack still sleeps in Halo SleepSacks, and they actually make them in larger toddler sizes - and hopefully they'll continue to do so. SleepSack is a mouthful for Jack, so we simply call it "Red". He has another one as well, which is appropriately called "Blue".
When it's time for "more Red", I lay the SleepSack out on the floor. Jack flops down on all fours and begins a routine that makes me cringe; he starts to bang his head on the floor. Now, I would really be cringing if it weren't for the fact that his room has a plush layer of head-cushioning carpeting. For the moment, there seems to be no harm in the head-banging, and given his past choices in head-banging surfaces - like hardwood flooring and tables - I'll take the carpet any day.
The head-banging lasts for a few moments, as does a strange ritual of breathing in the SleepSack and rubbing his face on the fabric, but then his body lays still on the Red. I lay myself down on the floor at his side, inching every closer. Slowly I proceed, for I know that a sudden movement will cause him to push me away or flee. I creep over until I can place a hand on his back. At first, I keep my hand still, afraid to alert him to my presence, but then I gently rub his back. I take in as much of the perfection that is my angel before he decides it is too much.
You see, I hear parents complain about the way that their kids want to only sleep in Mommy and Daddy's big bed, and while I grant everyone the right to complain about the things that are troubling in their lives, I can't help but feel a twinge of jealousy. Why? Because I've never been able to get Jack to cuddle up with me or snuggle me. How I'd love to be able to take a nap with him or let him stay in our room when he's sick or it's stormy outside, but he won't have it. He won't lay down. He doesn't want anyone that close. He'd rather be alone.
When he lays on that Red, I get a few minutes of just laying next to my angel. I embrace every opportunity I get for any bit of closeness, because I know just how precious they are. I lay there and wonder if he knows just how much I love him and how much I want to be a part of his world. I await the day that he lets me cuddle just a little longer, or lets me hug him, or that he calls for me to not leave as I close his bedroom door.
Until then, the stolen moments will have to do.
Jeanie is a former engineer turned stay-at-home wife and mom to an amazing 3.5-year old little boy on the autism spectrum. After her only child was diagnosed at 24 months with autism and an alphabet soup of special needs, she began to write about life parenting a very young child with special needs with honesty, optimism, and as always, a touch of humor.