The Calm After the Storm

We lie together in bed.

Just he and I.

His body is calm now.

His heart still racing.

His lip quivering.

His breath still spasms every so often.

But he is calm and available.

So I will take it.

I wrap myself around him and tell myself it’s not his fault. I tell myself it’s not my fault, either, but I can’t help but rehash the last few hours. I am lost in thought and trying desperately to regulate my own emotions.

His gears have downshifted. Much quicker than mine. I am still lost in the meltdown. Affected by his anger and rage. All of my buttons clearly pushed. My head pounding from the stress.

I’m not even sure how we made it home. My car on autopilot as I navigated the streets. Miraculously abiding the speed limit while he banged his head and thrashed about the backseat.

We lie together in silence. He says, “I love you” and I know my boy is back, so I ask him, “What could I have done to help you before you got so upset?”

He said, “Give me a ‘Finny wash.'” (A deep pressure massage.)

I almost chuckle at the simplicity of his answer. But knowing him, it doesn’t surprise me.

I said, “When?”

He said, “When I was drawing.”

I could not believe he could pinpoint the time in which he felt himself lose control.

I asked, “Why did you get so upset?”

He said, “Because there were too many people at Mom Mom’s.”

I knew that would be the case. I had been putting off going to my Mom’s all day. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I would’ve loved to let the kids play with their out-of-town cousins all day while I sat on the porch and watched the beach goers walk by. But that’s not our life. I knew Finn only had a few hours in him to be around that many people, so I chose to go over for dinner. It is what it is. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just too much for Finn.

I know it pains my parents to see him like that. To see how debilitating the simplest of events are for him. My mom is hardly equipped to feel so powerless. Lost without her usual ability to calm an upset child with a bowl of ice cream and a hug. She sees the pain on my face. The frustration. The helplessness. She knows I am doing my best. That he, though short-fused and utterly confusing to her, is doing his best. Seeing my patience waiver, my sisters try to interact with him, but he is already so far gone. Literally writhing around on the floor. The storm has taken over. We have nothing left to do but ride it out. Quickly deciding our safest tact, I knew we had to pack up and go. In a tizzy. Like we always do.

But he is calm now.

We are safe at home.

We lie together in bed.

Just he and I.

Rubbing each other’s backs and professing our unending love for each other.

Like it never happened.


14 thoughts on “The Calm After the Storm

  1. Wow Shan! You described your feelings along with Finn’s so well! It’s nice that he is getting older and can tell you what was going on and it’s even greater that he could tell specifics. I can relate with Finn cause I no longer like crowds either. It often gets to a point to where I just have to leave. Im very sensitive to movement, sound and light now. I call them my triggers. Difference is that I’m older and can just walk out of a situation. I hope Finn gets to a point to where he can do that too. My heart is with you all… I’m sure it’s not easy for anyone, least of all Finn.


  2. Hi Shannon,
    I hope today is a better day for you both. Our son has made so much progress this summer with ABA and social skills group and “practice.” He loves to practice ways to get out of a situation, know what his options are, with lots of incentives to participate in little ways, and we are starting to see the results. In large groups, after appropriate greeting and trying a few new things, the iPad is a great incentive for him to regroup and still be somewhat interactive (remaining in the room, making comments here and there, even attracting the attention of other children in a positive way.) There is a light at the end of this tunnel…I can see it now. Much love to you and Finn.

  3. I think it’s really difficult for people to understand why we don’t enter certain situations with Gabriel (large family parties); it’s really a catch 22. On one hand, we want to give him the chance to be with his family. On the other, we know that its disaster potential is high and while I don’t worry so much about family members (they can deal), I do want Gabriel to feel as safe and in control as possible.

    I love that Finn was able to pinpoint the exact moment when he lost that control and what could have helped the situation because I think it shows that he KNOWS. And not only that, but he knows what would have helped that situation. The knowledge of that is such a powerful thing for him!

    Love this post, love you, and while we’ve never met, I love Finn too. xo

  4. wow this is such a powerful read, thank you SO MUCH for sharing and writing with such honesty and accuracy and feeling… obvious that Finn is muchly loved… keep on
    love brett fish

  5. You are such an amazing mom and advocate for Finn. I am always impressed by your seemingly neverending supply of patience when mine so often wavers. Thanks for sharing your moment here…xo

  6. Hugs Mama. Those days are so hard. My boy is usually able to get through the day but then the meltdown occurs at home, sometimes at school. It is hard where ever it happens and it hurts so bad to watch them completely go to a primal place.

  7. This so accurately describes the moments after a storm over here, when James is able to shift from tantrum to hug in what seems like seconds. After a rough week i really appreciate this post!

  8. The calm after the storm is a scene I know by heart around here. Sadly, so is the storm itself. It’s so hard to watch our child go through that, knowing they can’t control it anymore than we can. Hugs and blessings to you both. Hang in there.

    Very encouraging though to see that Finn was able to know when he needed help and what kind too. And was able to tell you on top of knowing it, even if it was after the fact. David hasn’t been able to do so yet which leaves me guessing quite a bit based off of past experiences and things that have worked or haven’t worked before.

    Thank-you for sharing this post. Very moving and it touched my heart. : )

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