I Am Protective

As someone who lives with three males, I don’t spring clean. I don’t deep clean. I constantly clean. Every single day I wash clothes, clean bathrooms, wash dishes. But I’m not complaining. I work at home, so I have the time and flexibility to keep up with the housework. Honestly, I have no idea how women who work full time get it done. Seriously, I’m in awe.

Also, my husband is a huge help. I don’t mind washing the clothes, but hate putting them away. So he does that. I’ll load the dishwasher, but don’t care much about unloading. He does that, too. And he pretty much takes care of his own stuff. In fact, he teases me that I married him because he knew how to iron. And I have to admit, it was a contributing factor.

Yes, we do have two teenage sons, and conventional wisdom says teenage sons cut grass, take out the garbage, wash cars, and rake leaves. However, one of our sons is autistic and non-verbal, so his contributions will be limited.

My other son, well, let’s just say he has good intentions. He tries to help, but sometimes the mechanics of housekeeping don’t make a lot of sense to him. For example, he does take out the trash and recycling. But the first time he was tasked with replacing the trashcan liner, he couldn’t figure out how to get the bag open. So, in a classic display of adolescent boy impatience, he simply cut the bottom of the bag off and voila, it was open.

Worked beautifully until it was time to take the garbage out and he discovered it was no longer a garbage bag, but a garbage sleeve.

But, you know, he learned something. And he continues to take on more responsibility around the house, whether it’s helping with his brother, cleaning out my car, or using the vacuum.

In moments of frustration with my son’s slow slog into adulthood, I often find myself saying “when I was his age I was {insert impressive, mature activity}.” Or, “I bet the other kids his age {insert helpful activity}.”

But that’s not fair. Having children with special needs has taught me that all children progress at a different pace. My domestically challenged son didn’t talk until he was six, didn’t have meaningful conversations until third grade, and is still behind in his language and social skills.

But you know what? In the long run, he’ll be fine. He just needs time.

He’s going to take a year off after he graduates from high school and work. He must be given the time to grow, mature, and find his direction. And my husband and I will give it to him. We don’t really care what he “should” be doing, or what his peers are doing. We care about what’s right for him, and what gives him the best possible opportunity to succeed.

So we will give him time to grow, find his way, and learn to iron.


Amy Wright is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama. She’s a graduate of the University of the South at Sewanee, and has more than 20 years of marketing, advertising, and editorial writing experience. If you bank, use a cell phone, go to a hospital, attend a university, drink coffee, or eat snack cakes in the Southeastern United States, you’ve probably read something she’s written. But her greatest experience, by far, has been the intensely rewarding and truly humbling seventeen years of raising her special needs children with her beloved husband.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: