I’m in a kind of limbo. I sit with no food in a shopping centre foodcourt waiting for my son’s Lego group therapy to finish. It’s Monday. He’s attending this group all week. So I will have 4 more of these waiting games to play. I could wait in my car but it’s summer so the shopping centre is the next best option. I don’t want to eat. I feel angry. I feel angry because the waiting game with my son’s cold is still going.
He had a covid test not long ago, the 3rd for him and the 6th for me and as always it came back negative. The GP examined him and determined his illness was a mild cold. But so heightened are fears here now with recent outbreaks that I can’t blame people when they jump away if my son coughs, always into his arm but still, I see their eyes throw darts at me.
Today is day one of Lego group therapy that he’s been so looking forward to. After I drop him off the receptionist calls saying other parents are concerned about his cough. I feel angry and yet I understand their concern. No one wants to get covid. No one wants to get a cold. Nothing is safe now.
And yet I can’t shake the anger and I make guesses as to who the “concerned parent” was. The helicopter mum I took an instant dislike to when she arrived on crutches with her own mother in tow. Why did I dislike her? Was it for how easily she struck up a conversation with the receptionist as she showed off her nails? Was it for the fact she has a mother and I don’t? Was it for the way she scolded her daughter for putting her bag on the ground? Was it because she wore a pretty flowy dress, the kind I wish I could wear? Was my dislike just pain masked as anger? When the therapist called our children into the room, her and her daughter hung back. I picture her complaining about my son. Is that why I’m angry? Because I’ve been spoken about behind my back? Is this nothing more than someone acting within their rights triggering my past?
And so I wait nervously for the end of the session. Will he be booted out of the rest of the week because he coughed a few times?
I’ve never seen the play Waiting for Godot, a play about two people waiting for Godot who never arrives. My sister, a trained actor, once told me about it. She said it was horrible. It was a play about nothing. For some reason I’ve always believed her even though she is a staunch Catholic. I have ditched all my Catholic beliefs and yet I still trust her opinion on this play. Maybe I trust her because I hate waiting and I especially hate waiting for something that feels endless.
My life is full of Godots. Therapy, started in 1999. A false finish in 2015, then my son was born and motherhood opened up a trapdoor to a dungeon of new trauma memories. Just last session Psychologist J said “this will pass, I can’t tell you when but it will. It won’t always be like this.”
My son is a kind of Godot. Well not him, but autism. When will I make sense of it? Each time I feel I have a grasp on the complex ways autism affects my son, a new obstacle arises.
This month is a Godot. My son starts Primary School in February and so for this month it is him and me 13 hours a day, 7 days a week. He has a father, my husband, but my husband is not really available to do much parenting. So the days and weeks and hours stretch on and on and on. When will February come?
Psychologist J is away this month too. I haven’t written about the last 3 sessions. I haven’t had time or even the energy. When will he return? He seems to be the biggest Godot of them all. He’s usually there in my life twice weekly to help me make sense of the noise in my head. In his place is a constant stitch of grief; a tightness in my chest, missing him amplified by the memories of unmet childhood needs.
My parents, my abusers, and freedom from them. Perhaps the strangest Godot of all. Too long I have waited for them to apologise or to understand what they’ve done. I still long to tell my extended family the truth, but only if I will be believed. This is a real Godot. A fantasy. This is a wait I have to abandon. Dysfunctional families don’t miraculously change when one victim speaks up. I always thought I would cut my parents out of my life in a big dramatic way. But estrangement doesn’t feel like closure. It doesn’t feel final.
I return to the Speech Therapy car park and as I pull into a spot, the woman in the car next to me is beeping her horn, her face a twisted mess of muscles and rage. She’s shouting at me but I can’t hear through the glass. For a second I think I’m looking at my father. I feel my stomach churning.
Have I parked too close to her? I reverse into another spot, she’s getting out coming over to me. I roll down my window.
“You hit my car!” She screams at me. I didn’t feel a thing but I can only believe her. I offer her my license and a string of apologies. She examines her car and can’t find any marks. She calms down and then says not to worry about it. “Are you going to speech?” She asks. And so another wait. Her, me, a few other mothers waiting in the waiting room for our children to come from the group. The 2 minute wait feels like an eternity because I feel so ashamed for hitting her car. I’m still trying to feel my clothes on my body, so naked I still feel not being able to run away from her. Another memory I suppose, probably from high school. Something about being bullied or being hated.
So many Godots. When will I lose weight and keep it off? When I feel like I’m achieving things? When will I feel good enough? When will the present stop triggering the past?
And most importantly, when will I stop chasing Godots and notice the people sitting next to me: my husband, my friends and therapists and even coworkers so faithfully sticking by me while I wait for these things? I can only imagine that’s what the play is about. The relationship and conversation between the characters waiting for Godot. When will I realise that life doesn’t start when Godot arrives? The play is life. The end is death. Waiting is living.
I hear children’s voices and then the little Lego builders enter the waiting room. The other children walk quietly to their parents.
“Mummy, mummy, mummy!” sings my boy not in an anxious tone but in a sweet one, loud and clear, as he runs to me. His joy at seeing me is big, bold and genuine. This is a moment to savour. Not how much he loves me, but that he is happy.
Before he was born I asked my husband if he would rather our child be happy or smart. He said “happy of course.” I said “I know I should WANT to answer happy but I find myself really wanting him to be smart.” That changed after he was born. I don’t know why it took me so long to wish for my child to be happy especially since that’s all I’ve ever wanted for myself; for the pain to stop and the good feelings to start.
Perhaps it’s the one Godot that’s arrived. Whenever I see my child happy, I feel relief. The wait is over. He’s happy and I’m doing something right.