Happiness is a Hug Around the Neck

When Joey was a baby my mom would sing “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck” to him every chance she got. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember this gift of love. But I do…as if it were yesterday.

Yesterday was a little bit of a difficult day around here. On a scale of one to ten, I would put it at about a 6. It was okay – not too bad but not too good. Debbie was perseverating more than her usual amount of perseverating and she was getting upset when her thoughts were ignored. She’s at the difficult age of almost twelve and a half. On top of autism, her typical preteen anxiety sometimes kicks into overdrive. Dealing with that anxiety can be frustrating to say the least.

We took my 94 year old grandmother out to lunch as we do most every Sunday. Debbie just had her bat mitzvah lesson and Mom-Mom was asking her about it. Her reaction was to scream and growl, “NOO!” I snapped at her saying rather sharply, “You don’t talk like that to Mom-Mom!” In typical grandma fashion, Mom-Mom tried to blow it off but I wasn’t having any of that. Whether it’s autism or hormones talking, being disrespectful is out of the question.

As we were driving home Deb’s mood continued to deteriorate. She was obsessing over not having to go to school this week, not having to pick out her clothes, and what we were going to have for dinner every night. I was trying to ignore her. But she was persistent and wasn’t going to give in without getting any kind of attention, even if it was just a look. What was the cause of this sudden mood swing? She woke up yesterday morning perfectly happy. I felt like I was dealing with a preteen Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

After mulling it over, I realized that hormones were more than likely the cause for the change in her temper and we definitely needed some space between us. Fortunately, I had a family party that evening which gave me the excuse to go out and clear my head. We needed the distance between us before a battle ensued. Because as much as I try to keep a level head with Deb, it is not always the easiest thing to do. So out I went. I relaxed with family, ate Chinese, and had a generally good time.

By the time I got home, Debbie was in bed. She was just on the verge of falling asleep when I went in to kiss her goodnight. As she said, “I love you, Mommy,” she gave me the tightest hug around the neck. And she held me close for about a minute before letting go. I thought of the song “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck,” Mom had sung so long ago to Joey. The hug around the neck she gave me took me back to that moment of joy – that moment of unwavering love.

To get through the tough times, we need to focus on the happy times. I love my family fiercely – as much as a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. And that’s what gets me through the stormy days. xoxoxo ~ Julie

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