Sunday, July 10, 2011

House Mothering

Recently I was a “House Mother”. Jason's uncle and aunt went away for a week and left their 3 young adult sons. Two of the boys have Autism/Asberegers Spectrum Disorder. When she first asked my initial thought was, “No, I can't do that!” and then I got to thinking and praying and I came to the conclusion that Yes, I could do that. However, foolish niece that I am, I forgot to tell her that we could and stay at their house for a week and I figured that since she hadn't called that she had it all figured out.

Two weeks before they were to head out we learned that the person(s) who said they would do it, no longer could. I had Jason give his aunt a call immediately and told her that we would help.
I worried and fretted. I had heard stories, haven't we all, and seen kids with autism on TV, but these were grown men! What if one of them became violent, what would I do?

I prayed and prayed and realized, after talking it out with my MIL and my Mom, that the brothers would be fine. Their Mom had done a really good job of raising them and helping them to manage their disorder. Everything would be fine.

The Saturday before they left we went over, Jason, Stomper and I, for a visit. The Mom gave us a short “manual” for the most challenging of the three. There was nothing in it that I couldn't handle.

On Wednesday we arrived and began settling in.

I didn't leave the house until Sunday. I think that was a mistake. Saturday we were all pretty stressed out. The brothers were tired from staying up and watching movies with us (that was our fault) and tired of Stomper fussing every time I left the room. I think someone said, “I can't think when you're crying!” to Stomper once, to which I replied “I can't either. I'm coming to get him just hang on a minute.” I was worn from being someplace that wasn't home, from not having anyone to talk to (Jason worked all week-end), and from sleeping on a strange bed and I think that was why we had our one and only brother to brother upset. One person was bending the rules and not giving another some space which resulted in hurt feelings. And I, not knowing exactly what rule was being bent (I could see guilt on a brothers face but wasn't certain where the guilt was coming from), didn't step in soon enough. A call to Mom was made by one brother and I had a short chat with all the brothers. Something along the lines of: “Give each other some space.” Thankfully, brothers forgive quickly, and they were friends again by the end of the day.

Interestingly, the one brother who I was worried the most about was the easiest. He did his own thing, sometimes lost in his own world, and was pleasant to be around. He taught me a new apple crisp recipe which I will share with you later. Stomper got a little too close to him a couple times and he declared “He's dangerous!” and I apologized profusely for letting Stomper get so close. My favorite quote from him was “I'm not gonna get married, don't like that hugging and holding hands. I'm gonna go live on my own in a tree house!” and I didn't hear this one directly but he also said, “I don't think they celebrate Halloween in Heaven.”

I was talking with a friend at VBS, who works in the public school system helping children with developmental delays, about the brothers and she said: “Sounds like this Mom is right on top of things.” I couldn't agree more. Caring for the brothers reminded me of babysitting the neighbors as a teen. I was just there to make sure that the brothers didn't kill each other, and to keep the kitchen clean. I had nearly no work to do. They cleaned up after themselves, did their own laundry, cooked their own food, reminded me to give them their meds, did their chores without being reminded, and put themselves to bed at a decent hour (once I stopped watching interesting movies at night).

All in all I enjoyed myself.
Other Cousins came to visit us while we were there


  1. Hat's off to this mom. Those of us with kids without a label could learn a thing or two from her! ~Christine

  2. I applaud you for doing something out of your comfort zone! And for keeping cool! Well done, mama!


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