Thursday, May 14, 2015

This Ain't Nothin'

A few weeks ago, I was in a community theater show called Moon Over Buffalo.  It's a comedy about a pair of aging stars, a scandal, and backstage hijinks.  Everyone associated with the production--actors, director, costumers, crew--was lovely and supportive and fun.  The audience laughed.  A good time was had by all.
I'm so glam.

This was huge for me because I was doing something for myself that I loved and hadn't done in so so long.  Theater used to be a huge part of who I was, and it had all but disappeared from my life.  I hadn't set foot on stage in 12 years.  Friends congratulated me and then asked the inevitable question:

"Weren't you nervous?"

And here's the surprising answer:  Not at all. 

I couldn't have been more surprised by my total lack of nerves.  Back in the day, I would pace frantically before the show, fighting off the urge to puke.  Once I got on stage, I'd settle down, and eventually have fun.  But beforehand?  I would be a wreck.  Not this time.  I still paced, but just to get my energy level up, not out on anxiety.  Before my first entrance, I took a breath, turned the doorknob, and walked onstage as if I belonged there.

Like it was no big deal.

Because you know what?  In the grand scheme of things, it was no big deal.  With all the crazy autism stuff I deal with, not to mention teaching snarky adolescents while being a mother to another snarky adolescent, it seemed like putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else was the easiest part of my day.  It was even a relief.

The advantage to being an autism mom is that situations that scare other people are nothing to us.  Our everyday life is so effin' hard that perceived challenges can seem easy.  Face it:  What's easier than being a special needs parent?  Um, pretty much everything.

Whenever I face something difficult, it helps to remind myself that I've already dealt with worse.  So when the Boy had a meltdown in the car the other day because he wanted ice cream and french fries and doughnuts and snow and Santa and Baby Jesus (I kid you not), I knew nothing would placate him.  But I'd seen worse--much worse--so I decided to focus on my breathing.  Breathe in for four....breathe out for four.  Breathe in for four...breathe out for four.  Resist the urge to scream.  Be all zen and crystals and patchouli.  Think about breathing and yoga and Rodney Yee in his tiny hot pants--God bless him--and resist the urge to yell.  And it worked!  I stayed calm.  Eventually, he burned himself out and we went to the park and played on the swings and all was well.

I just have to remember that I've seen worse.

Or, to quote the hobo in Slaughterhouse Five, "You think this is bad?  This ain't bad."*

*All right, if you've read the book, you know those are the hobo's last words, so I may also be making a secret ironic point here.  So it goes.


  1. Bravo! Well done and hopefully I can come see you in the next production you do.

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  3. Lady, Queen Mel (may I call you that and kiss your ring?) You're the only person I know who can write a blog post replete with EFF words and bring tears to my eyes. Not necessarily this particular post, but in general. Swear to God if I ever get to meet you, I'm hugging you.

    1. How am I just seeing this now? You are such a doll!