I'm sure some people mean well, but it is incredibly mentally exhausting when you're asked 10 times within an hour "How is Boog? How is he doing? Where is he in school? Is he in Kindergarden?".
I got so tired of answering the same prying questions I started coming up with more and more extreme answers. Each answer I gave had a seed of truth, but a lot of exaggeration.
My response: "Yep. He's great. He's reading on a second grade level!"
Reality: He can read and it's more words than any of us knew. And he taught himself to read. And that is amazing.
My response: "Oh yes! He's doing so well principals from other schools come by just to see him!"
Reality: A principal from a nearby elementary school did come by and spent some time in Boog's class. She did say many wonderful things about how sweet and beautiful he is. Love her.
My response: "Yes, he's in Kindergarten and loves it!!"
Reality: Boog is in a very, very good Autism class and it's across the hall from a great Kindergarten class. The two classes spend time together and it's incredibly beneficial for both of them. The children with ASD get to see neurotypical childrens' reactions and behavior and the Kindergarten class learns that everyone is different and that's okay.
Why not just say the reality? Because these are people that we are not close to and have no clue about Autism. People that we see once a year. If I get nervous in an IEP with a teacher and school staff that I absolutely love, explaining my son's autism and progress to extended family strangers is enough to make me crack. I held it together yesterday, but the damage is felt today. I'm anxious and borderline depressed and I absolutely know the cause.
You put on your mom-armor and get through the barrage of questions, but this armor isn't like steel or any kind of metal. This armor can last for a while, several hours, or maybe even a day if it needs to. After that, the armor disappears and you're left completely drained. To build up that armor, you use all your energy, every protective instinct you posses, and it takes me days to get that energy back. It's pure mental exhaustion.
The truth is, Boog is doing great. He's kicking all kind of butt in so many areas. But these people wouldn't understand if I told them our recent milestones and frankly, they don't care. They're just nosey and are looking for tidbits to gossip about later at worst. At best they're just trying to act like they care to be nice. Either way, I'd rather stub my big toe five times in a row than to go through it. Yea, I'm being serious. Maybe six times.
I know I'm not alone in this feeling today. In fact, that's partly why I'm posting this. No one talks about "day after depression", so you may think you're the only one. You're not by far.
The best advice I can give is what I'm trying to do myself today. Just breathe. Rest if you can. Find something to take your mind off having to concentrate so hard, whether it's going Black Friday shopping, to reading a good book, to binge watching a show on Netflix. Just get through today and I promise tomorrow will be easier.
I know Christmas is just a month away, but we have four weeks to prepare. If you have made it this far, you're one tough cookie. Our battle scars from being an advocate for our children run deep, but that scar tissue is tougher than anyone knows. It's as tough as armor. And we have time to build that armor back up.