This whole almost-divorced-mom thing has its challenges, and some of the most difficult surround holidays. Tom and I have talked extensively about Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ve had whole therapy sessions devoted to making smart choices for our son, Sam, as we work through this uncoupling and in the future.
We’d kind of forgotten about Halloween, though.
Last week, as I discussed here, Sam fretted over the fact that was going to be with Tom and not me over the holiday, certain that Tom wouldn’t get his costume right. Tom was perfectly agreeable and probably a little relieved when we talked about Sam’s concerns and decided that I would join him at his pre-K party along with his dad.
What I never thought to review with Tom – and that’s what it amounts to when you’re co-parenting with an Aspie … “review” – was what needed to happen the rest of the Halloween weekend.
Sam came back to our little garage apartment on Sunday afternoon, and truth be told, I expected him to be wiped out and on a sugar high.
But the little boy came bobbing in the house, happy as a lark, telling me tales of some really cool caterpillar he and his dad had spotted on the way out of what used to be my house but is now just Tom’s.
“How was trick-or-treating?” I asked, as Tom handed me Sam’s overnight bag and his backpack.
“What?” Tom asked. He looked at me as if I had said, “Abba girda ringle.”
I slowed my speech in a way that would insult most people: “How. Was. Trick. Or. Treating?”
“Oh,” Tom said. “We didn’t do any of that.”
“What do you mean, you didn’t do any of that?”
I was perplexed.
“We didn’t trick-or-treat,” Tom replied.
“Why the hell not?” I whispered. I needn’t have. Sam was too busy still talking about the caterpillar to notice that we weren’t paying attention to him.
“I forgot about it. I mean, I forgot until someone rang our doorbell. Sam and I handed out candy. He was fine with it,” Tom said.
I gave him a halfway cold shoulder for the next few minutes as we settled Sam’s things and went over the schedule for the upcoming week. It took every shred of restraint I have to wait until after I’d put Sam to bed to call my sister-in-law so I could bitch and moan.
“He didn’t take him trick-or-treating,” I spewed, as soon as Mary Carter answered.
“What?” she replied.
“Tom. He ‘forgot’ to take Sam trick-or-treating!” I gasped.
“Oh,” she said. “Rookie mistake.”
“Stupid mistake,” I corrected her. I was livid.
“How was Sam? Was he disappointed?” she followed.
“What? Oh, no, Sam didn’t seem to care. He was all interested in some caterpillar he and his … .”
I stopped myself mid-sentence. Mary Carter, whose left thumb possesses more tact than I have in my entire being, remained silent.
“Right,” I demurred. “So this is a ‘me’ thing?”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “I’d say so.”
“What you’re thinking right now is that I’m getting worked up because Tom didn’t do things like I would have done them not because it actually mattered to Sam,” I said.
“More or less,” Mary Carter replied. Again, with the tact.
“Damn,” I grumbled. “This is all way harder than I thought it would be in ways I never imagined.”
“On the bright side?” Mary Carter chirped.
“Yes?” I asked.
“You won’t have Snickers sitting around your house waiting to be eaten,” she said.
“Mary Carter, you are the most optimistic person I know,” I smiled.
“I do think our Heavenly Father brought me into John’s life to inject a little sunshine in your family’s gene pool,” she said with a giggle.
As contemptuous of organized religion as I am, I couldn’t bring myself to disagree with her.
Guest blogger Maggie Carlton is a journalist and author of three books. Her most recent book, Wired Differently But Bound Together : Marriage and Asperger’s Syndrome, was published in 2014. She teaches writing at various schools in the Central Texas area and conducts workshops for adults. She lives in Austin, Texas with her son, Sam.