Remember Silly Putty? You could pull it apart slowly, and it would keep stretching and stretching and stretching. But if you tried to pull it apart really fast, it wouldn’t stretch. It would snap.

Sometimes I feel a lot like Silly Putty, trying to stretch to accommodate all of the elements of my life. But I think that the hardest part for me, besides my sons’ father living far away, is being pulled in two directions trying to meet the needs of both of my boys. I feel like I’m just stretching and stretching. Most of the time, I can keep stretching, and I do. But sometimes, too many things that require my attention happen at once, and I reach a breaking point.

Take last weekend, for example. Nearly all day Saturday was spent doing Nigel’s Boy Scout event with recycling Christmas trees. We got home from that, I made dinner, cleaned up after dinner, and started doing some work that was due for a client. I figured I could finish it by Sunday afternoon before heading out to the animal shelter to do the weekly volunteer work that Nigel needs for a Scout requirement. Then we’d get home, I’d make dinner, fill out some paperwork that needed to be done, and that would be the end of the weekend. No down time. I felt really stretched.  

So I was sitting at my computer, working on some spreadsheets, and Aidan walked in to ask me to take him to the mall tomorrow so that he could trade in some old video games and get a new one. I sighed, trying to avoid snapping. I felt like I was being pulled apart too fast. I started to complain about how busy I was, being gone all day at the Scout thing and having work to do, and the animal shelter tomorrow, and more work, and . . . Aidan’s face fell. He started to walk away.

And then it hit me. Again. I do so much for Nigel. He requires so much of my focus and time. And Aidan asks for so little. How could I not do this for him? All I needed to do was stretch a little more, to make a little time for my second son, who so often feels like second fiddle.

“Wait, honey,” I said. “I’ll be able to fit it in. We’ll go right after Nigel and I get back from the animal shelter. And after the mall, we’ll go out to dinner, okay?”

“Okay. Thanks, Mom,” he said, his face brightening some.

And that is what we did. Sunday afternoon, Nigel and I got back from the animal shelter, and Aidan had his bag of old games all ready to go. I changed my clothes for dinner, then we drove to the mall and exchanged Aidan’s games for the new game that he wanted, and he was happy. We went to the restaurant, and Nigel, without prompting, actually thanked the waiter when his plate was set in front of him. That’s twice in one weekend, for anyone keeping track!

And I’m so glad that I stretched myself a little more. It’s often a huge challenge doing this on my own, but it’s worth it to keep stretching. It’s worth it to make sure Aidan knows that he’s also my priority. Fortunately, I’m a lot like Silly Putty. When it snaps, you can easily connect the two ends together again.

20 thoughts on “Stretching

  1. osh

    I cried while I read this…I do that a lot lately. It is the mom’s (did I put the ‘ in the right place? I never know where to put it, no matter how many times I read the rule)…

    I snap all the time with one…I do it quietly in the shower, but you and Jess, and Drama, and Maddy and Mama Edge and so many others just amaze me…

    I guess I am pretty lucky that both Evan and I are pretty much anti-social and the big highlight is going to Starbucks and then deciding if we have enough energy to go to the mall…but to be completely honest, Evan has to give me forewarning if he needs me to take him to more than 3 places in a day…I’m rambling.

  2. Chapati

    I wish I could help in some way! I am guessing saying ‘take some time out for yourself’ is a bit of a pointless statement since as a mum you don’t get time off!

    How about trying to do something you find relaxing, with the kids. It’ll be ‘family time’ as well as ‘me time’ all at once!

  3. Paulene Angela

    It’s not easy, even when my son wanted to complete his first communion we needed to go once a week for two years, (I was obliged to sit in on the lessons to help him) while other mothers just dropped their children and disappeared.
    I was so happy I stretched that little bit extra.

    Still I do believe that we need to set a date with ourselves once or twice a week.

  4. goodfountain

    I worry often that my younger NT is not feeling the love as much as the older one does. Can she tell how much of my mental energy goes to Charlotte?

    The stretching and snapping is a great metaphor for the struggle. I am going to remind myself of this when I feel like snapping.

  5. Carrie N

    Oh, I wish I didn’t, but I know that look where a little face falls. ‘Not now’ stings.

    Attagirl from here for stretching a little more for Aidan. Seems that it was well worth it 🙂

  6. Cheryl

    Wow – great reminder of how to stretch graciously and without snapping. Oh so hard to do sometimes! Thanks for the gentle reminder, because I know it’s always worth it in the end! I’ll think of a little ball of silly putty the next time I’m reaching my limit and will try to stretch slowly to avoid snapping! So much better for EVERYONE! :0)

  7. Jess Wilson

    Ok, I do NOT mean to make light of this – cause I get it seven ways to Sunday.

    So forgive me, cause once in a while I can’t contain my inner wise ass.

    I just have to know.

    If you lay down on newspaper, does it work?

    Forgive me? Please?

  8. Carrie

    “When it snaps, you can easily connect the two ends together again.”


    And boy do I get the second fiddle thing! And yea, the snapping, too!

  9. Tanya Savko Post author

    LOL, Jess! You know, as I was writing this post, I kept wondering how I could work in the newspaper trick as part of the analogy, but I feared that would “stretch” the analogy too much. Oh, the fun I could have had with that!

  10. Brenda

    And I was going to go for the fun popping sounds analogy. But then I thought of noise putty (or what we call toot putty). And then I just lost it. See, I’ve already snapped! You do a great job at keeping us all happy. Good thing we’re very bendy.

  11. Kim

    LOL! I always read comments before I post mine and that made me laugh!

    Love this analogy and the fact that you can reconnect to keep on stretching.

    And 2 thank yous?! Awesome!

  12. corrie

    I agree with others. I was thinking of the putting it on the comic page and pulling it up. And the popping. And the bouncing too.

    Maybe, how your boys leave an imprint on your life. Then other times how you keep bouncing back????

  13. Nicki

    I think both of your boys are lucky to have a silly-putty mom! You handle it very well! There are many parents I’ve known who either ALWAYS made the child with the most special needs the priority because he needed more, or ALWAYS made the most typical children the priority because they deserved a “normal” childhood.” You do great at being there for both of them!

  14. Tera

    Tanya, you had me in tears. It’s so hard parenting an autistic kid, and sometimes I feel it’s even more difficult having a ‘typical’ kid by. I always worry about Jari too. I put so much into making life okay for Kaeden and Jari always gets thrown in the mix…but where is HIS time, energy, desire? Granted, we do what we can and our kids learn that this is how life jives. They have been subjected to it since birth (in both our cases) and it’s normal to them. But I’m so glad you were able to see your son’s dissappointment turned around. A very good balancing act indeed to take off the pressure and have dinner out. Stretching you do well, but try not to snap!

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