Today I actually left the house and went to visit a friend. We hung out, laughed and talked for hours with her and her little boy. Again, I didn't have my own child responsibilities to deal with and take into account. No texts asking where something is or asking advice on how to deal with a tantrum. No guilt on my part knowing that someone else is having a hard time dealing with my kids while I have fun.
My friend's son is neurotypical and it is fascinating to me to see the differences. He is constantly looking for her attention, bringing her toys, telling her stories, asking her questions. I think it would end up exhausting me. They're working on toileting and he was quite proud of his big boy potty and wanted to show me. He's probably going to do quite well in life.
I always feel a little sad and jealous when I deal with my friends' kids. Mostly happy for them but there's a little selfish kernel inside which I've learned to accept and (mostly) not judge myself for.
They have wonderful dreams for their children. Who will they fall in love with? What will be their favourite subject in school? What dreams will they have for themselves? Will they be sporty or artsy? They're proud of their children's accomplishments, as they should be.
Those are the moments when I feel the pinch of my own lost dreams. I've had to switch to new dreams: will Alex be able to live independently? Will he be toilet-trained? Will Nathan find someone who can understand and accept his autism? Will Alex?
I've learned to accept the pinch as one of the occupational hazards of raising kids with autism. It's not easy and it doesn't diminish the pain, but feeling it doesn't make me a bad person and I can't try to arrange my life to avoid it.
After my visit I still had time to get some quality Fringe binge watching done. And I even allowed myself to be mildly productive and went through the boxes of collectibles while watching.