Have been visiting a few forums and chat rooms recently for partners of people with Aspergers (they pretty much all seem to be American. Which is fine, but does make me wonder where all the UK partners of people with Aspergers are...)
It provided a bizarre kind of comfort to discover that other people are grappling with the very same issues that I am. That other Asperger partners are feeling lonely and emotionally deprived. That they too want to smack their partners round the head with the ipad/laptop/iphone/telly that they are more connected to than any actual person. That they are completely exasperated when they have to say things four or five times and still they're not really heard. And that they imagine leaving their partner for good when they are left stranded in a library with three clawing, whining kids, the pram and all the school bags because their partner doesn't like the noise and the chaos (OK, maybe the last one was a little specific but you get the idea).
There's something comforting about knowing that other people are going through it too. That Ethan is 'normal' in the world of Aspergers. And that other people are coping and many are committed - by the side of their Aspergers partner.
But the other thing I noticed is that, on the whole, these forums and chat sites tend to focus on the negatives. They tend to be places to rant, release and rage. Probably because it's the one place that people can. And it's an important and necessary process. But, after immersing myself in tales of how insensitive people's Asperger partners are, how emotionally and sexually deprived neuro-typical partners are and how generally difficult life is with an Aspergers partner (to the point that many people were thinking of getting out) I found it made me feel a bit sad, deprived, hopeless, annoyed, frustrated, depressed. It also made me feel a bit like I'd betrayed Ethan. Who may show all these negative characteristics but who is, after all, doing his best. And if there was a chat room for men to compare notes on wives/girlfriends who try to control them, nag them, moan at them, criticise them, never have time or energy for sex, etc, etc, Ethan would be well within his rights to be leading the discussion. Except that he never would.
There seems to be a fine line between expressing emotion and venting frustration and making yourself, and others, feel worse about the situation we're in.
So this blog post was meant to be an ode to all the good qualities of Ethan (and his Aspergers) that I am blessed with. But I've used up my time and space talking about the importance of talking about the good stuff!
So, next time, I'll dedicate my blog post to positive aspects of Aspergers (they are there). And for today, I'll get a final frustration off my chest...but with my sense of humour in tact (I've decided that, for all of our sakes, I need to use this weapon far more).
Yesterday, I had to be at school early to go on a school trip with my daughter. Before leaving (at 7.50am) the boys were dressed, their school bags were packed, Sam's lunch was packed and all Ethan needed to do was give them their breakfast, brush their teeth and get them to school on time.
At 8.45, as Ava and all her class were on the coach, seat-belts buckled and ready for off, the teacher announced that the trip had to be postponed because of the snow. Everyone piled out again and, looking at my watch, I wondered whether I'd catch Ethan at the tail end of dropping off the boys. At Sam's classroom there was no sign of Ethan or the boys so, presuming I'd missed them, I started walking home. As I came out of the school gates, a car screeched round the corner and out tumbled the boys. Late. As I helped them out the car, Sam exclaimed 'It's not been a good morning. Daddy made me do all the jobs. I had to brush Oliver's teeth!' So, not only was Ethan late but he hadn't even done the morning's jobs - he'd palmed then off onto his 4-year-old son! Five minutes later when I took Oliver's coat off, I saw the effects of Sam being appointed tooth-brusher. Toothpaste covered Oliver's jumper from elbow to wrist.
Later I discovered the reason for Ethan's lack of parental duties: he was too busy getting himself ready to deal with the boys. He wanted to be able to get home from drop-off and immediately start watching a film in order to squeeze it in before he had to collect Oliver 2 hours later.
Like I say, sometimes I feel like smashing the flipin' telly over his head.