For the most part, our son has made a career of waking up between the hours of 2 and 5am. He goes through cycles of this, interrupted by a few nights of good solid sleep. I’m almost always the one who gets up with him. (Sleep is a big issue in our house. I’ve realized lately, too, that my spouse has a long habit of interrupting the scant sleep I do get.)
Over the weekend, I spent the night at my parents’ house. It wasn’t planned but it got late and I was too tired to drive in the dark. I didn’t come home until mid-afternoon Sunday. This meant she got to nap most of the day on Saturday and then sleep in for most of Sunday. I mentioned to her that I hadn’t gotten much sleep (my son was up at 2am at my parents) and that I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. She says she ‘tried to let me take a nap’ when I got home Sunday afternoon, which I could not do due to all the caffeine I was pumping, but the truth is that our son took a nap then, so the couple uninterrupted hours I spent doing our family budget that afternoon had nothing to do with her. You know, other than the fact that she didn’t bug me to come wait on her.
On Sunday and Monday night, he stayed up late and woke up at five. I got up with him both mornings. I went through Monday and Tuesday exhausted. I made mental errors and had several near-accidents.
Last night he got up at five again. I got up and got him his iPad to play games, hoping that would settle him, but he was really worked up. I figured he was hungry but I couldn’t move. Knowing my spouse had gotten several good nights sleep recently, including the weekend she spent alone, I told her it was her turn and asked her if she could just get him something to snack on, as that would probably settle him down. Then I passed out until 6:30.
When I woke up, she was still awake, watching TV because I ‘know she can’t go back to sleep after she wakes up.’ “Did you at least try?” I asked. “You never came back to bed.” No, she didn’t try. She’s been more and more erratic lately, which happens when I don’t cheerfully take her guff, and soon she was standing across the kitchen holding a knife, making stabby, gutty gestures. I assume it was supposed to be in good humor, but she’d already mentioned something about a brandishing a knife ‘already’ that day. I didn’t know what that meant, but it had dark undertones.
Later on, before she left for work, she had an ‘intervention moment’ with me, telling me that “I’m here to support you,” but she needs advance notice if I’m going to need her to get up early. She mentioned Sunday, when she ‘tried to let (me) take a nap.’
The icing on the cake was when she added “it’s our fault he is the way he is” as she walked out the door. By which, she meant the fact that he has limited sign language and poor communication skills. I pursued it and asked why it was my fault. “Because you didn’t keep up with expanding his sign vocabulary.” At that point, I’m not sure what I should have said to cut off her narc supply. What I did say was the truth, which is that I taught him thirty to forty signs that NO ONE ELSE WOULD USE, neither her, her mother, my family, or the school systems, no matter how much work I did to get them to do so.
The truth is that she knows I feel terribly guilty about my son’s limitations. The truth is also that she has been UNDERCUTTING me physically, emotionally, and mentally, throughout the last fifteen years of our son’s life. The truth is that she has had NO fucking interest in her son for many years, has done ZERO to address any issues he has, and spends all of her free time watching TV and playing video games. She does not read about autism, she does not do research, she does not work with him, spend time with him, or even take care of him. The truth is that she can shove it, which is what I silently repeated as I looked into her teary oh-so-sincere eyes as she talked down to me this morning.
Threats and instability, then calm and reasonable reassurances. This is how the subtle violence works.