Every picture I post of myself with my older daughter makes me feel like I'm not including my younger daughter. It makes me think, "I wonder if people look at this picture and wonder where my younger daughter is, and why she's not there". Every picture I take of me with my younger daughter makes me think, "I wonder if people see this picture and think, he's just taking pictures of his youngest daughter so it doesn't look like he spends all his time with his oldest daughter."
Anyone ever feel that way? Sometimes maybe we need to give OURSELVES a fucking break from scrutiny and judgement.And I was sort of pressed for time, but it had been eating at me a little and I wanted to just lay it out there for the universe (at least this collapsed and particularly singular universe that is the autism parenting universe) to consider.
And after I left it there I felt like I needed to return to the thought and give it a little more fleshing out. It's not that I think I'm a bad parent. It's not that I think I give more of my time or attention to Emma. It's not that I think the time I spend with Lily is spent in order to somehow prove to other people that I'm not just focused on my other kid. It's that the thought occurs to me that other people might think that.
The point I was trying to get across at the time was less even that other people might be judging me, and more that they may not be judging me at all! And if they are, how would I know? And if they're not, why am I growing gray hairs worrying about something that clearly is only occurring to me? This hypothetical judgement is less about what other people might be thinking and more, "I'm thinking it."
I think that at the end of the day I realize that a lot of the "fun" activities I get pictures of myself and Emma doing are things that Lily isn't as interested in, or outright hates. But the appearance of me sledding with Emma, or eating cotton candy at a Pirate game with Emma, or at a movie with Emma, gives a photographic record of only my time with Emma...not Lily. And I think that grates a little. I think it makes me feel like I'm not doing enough to get Lily involved in activities that might be more fun for the whole family.
Tonight I took Emma and Lily out into the snow. Lily was reluctant. It would have been easy to say, "Okay, honey, you stay inside." But I knew there had to be something out there in the white that would appeal, and so fighting inertia and Lily's strange finger force field (the only effect of which is to repel mittens from her hands) we trudged outside into the snow to play.
And Lily hated the sledding, and after confirming a couple times that yes, sledding is not Lily's thing, we made a snowman, and found that kicking and whacking the snow...is Lily's thing. It's enough of Lily's thing that I had to set the timer on my Iphone (duck quacking) for five more minutes so I could help transition her back inside the house (that she hadn't wanted to leave) with less fight.
It's a weird sort of win-win. I know that I try really hard to spend time with both my girls, but there is a lazy inertial ease associated with just letting Lily do what Lily loves most all day, which is to watch TV. And letting her watch TV, while it may be what she prefers, is not actively being involved with her. And the pictures I take of myself with Lily while she's not actively involved with me kind of are a bit of a lie, proof only that I was in the same room with her, and not that I was involved in doing something with her.
I took her into the snow and I got my family time with both girls. And I got my picture with both girls. Part of my pledge to myself and my family is that I'm going to try to help facilitate more of that inclusive family time. The pictures weren't ever the point. The point was that the pictures led me to realize I wasn't making enough of an effort.
|The Three Musketeers - Photography by the Fourth Musketeer|