My nephew’s birthday party was winding down and the kids had all gone inside my stepbrother’s house while the adults soaked up probably one of the last warm days outside.  I watched Brian follow the kids in and part of me wanted to go in with him but I resisted the urge.  He was having a great day and it was just Corbin and their cousins- all of whom are familiar with Brian.  I wanted to let him go play and I wanted to relax.

Five minutes later I heard his screams coming from the upstairs bedroom.  I ran into the house- you never know with his yells.  He has the same scream for falling down a flight of stairs that he uses for not being able to close a door (because not being able to follow one of his OCD routines is, in my opinion, actually physically painful to him).

His scream of death was the product of not being able to watch a part in a movie over and over and over again.

I carried him downstairs while he kicked and yelled while all the kids followed me.  They wanted to know why he was crying.  I tried to explain the best I could about how he needs to have stuff done in certain ways.  At that point Brian’s screams were just escalating.

I carried him out of the house and tried to gather our stuff.  My father came over and asked Brian if he could hold him.  Brian went to him for two seconds until he jumped out of his arms back into mine screaming.  My father walked us to the car, patting my back, telling me I need to take care of myself and that Brian is getting too heavy to carry.

I buckled Brian in the car.  I did some deep breathing with him while giving joint compressions and he slowly started to come down.  The screams had stopped and the tears were much slower.  I turned to find my father still standing there.

The look in his eyes killed me.

I think he wanted to cry.  I wouldn’t say it was pity in his eyes, because that would’ve made me mad.  But it was definitely worry in his eyes.  He worries about me a lot.  I know he does.  He worries about how I will take care of Brian on my own as he continues to grow.  He worries about the fact that when Brian gets upset like that the only way to calm him is for me to hold him in my arms.  And he’s already more than a third of my own weight.  I can’t do it for much longer.  And how am I going to calm him when I can’t?  He worries about my future all the time.   He’s my Dad, that’s what Dads do…but with autism in the mix, it’s a whole other story.

My Dad is so unbelievably proud of me and what I’ve done with Brian thus far.  And what I’ve done for myself while being a single mom.   And he wants the best for me.

So he worries.

I gave him a hug, got in the car, and drove off.  And then I started to cry.

I pretend I don’t worry.  However my father’s look seemed to make a direct connection to these inner thoughts that I push down inside so I don’t have to face them.

I cried because I worry too.

Heather Nelson

About Heather Nelson

Heather resides in Rockland where she is busy juggling life as a newlywed, a mom to two boys (one of which who has autism), a part time job in direct sales, and a full-time job as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant. She has a love for live music, karaoke, and cheering on the underdogs.