There are ways that I am far from the perfect parent. I struggle with the school-gate networking. I find changes to plans hard. I need down time after social occasions, I can’t run from one to another constantly.
I also struggle with certain routine tasks. Shopping is one of them. Eating regularly is another.
My children help regulate my meal times. They become a necessity, a framework for the day. Most cooking doesn’t interest me. It’s dull, repetitive and requires me to concentrate, so takes up processing power. On top of that I dislike the textures of certain easy crowd-pleasers like pasta.
Food is a battleground on some levels. On others, it’s a joy of patterns and pleasure.
Back to this morning. It’s the summer holidays, the children are all home and stirring, husband away with work, and I remember that we ran out of cereal the day before, and I forgot to get more.
Someone else might get us all up and dressed and traipse off to the shops, but I’ll do anything to minimise the number of shopping trips I have to do. I have set lists set up for online deliveries, and I still find the ordering hard.
I go through my mental list of possibilities. I look at the patterns, I play with mixtures of ingredients in my mind. Before I’ve brushed my teeth I have a plan. We shall create muffins.
So that’s what we do. Because I like to lecture and learn, I talk as we all mix. The smallest child is dappled by flour in seconds, there is laughter. There is a basic chemistry lesson. There is a discussion about carbohydrates and sugars and balance.
They are energised by their food in a completely different way. They ask questions. No matter how silly they are, I will answer them. I learn from their perspectives. They energise me.
Another day we might experiment with quantities. Not to create the perfect muffin, but to demonstrate the balance. To see what happens. To learn. For fun.
This morning we ate muffins in the sunshine, warm from the oven. Then we watched the birds. We found an iridescent beetle and followed its trundling path. We poked a rock with a stick and watched the sky through the leaves of the trees. We pondered about whether the dogs were telepathic or obedient. We bickered about whose turn it was on the swing. We watered some stones. We stopped to point at a train in the distance and then waved at it, even though no one could ever have seen us. The waving was for us.
Then I took a few minutes to be a proper grown up and hung out the washing in the sunshine.
Job done, we turned into pirates. Each billowing sheet was a wave to run through. They broke, cold and clean as we crested and rode the lines. The movement of water in fabric, the textures, all memories of my childhood, now shared with my children.
We giggled. Proper, stupid, breathless glugs of giggles. As the fabric flapped.
This morning I could have been sensible. I could have been organised and bought muffins. Making them isn’t what made today. Making them is what pushed me into creativity. And what pushed me into making them? The restrictions my autism gives me.
There are times those restrictions drive me up the wall, and then there are todays. Days when they force out the best of me. When they create the memories I want to hold on to forever.