The title of the blog is, Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat and indeed the blog is meant to be about Joseph, but I have found it difficult as time has gone on to purely talk about him. Realistically there are so many people and events that circle his life that it is almost impossible to blog solely about him.
So, I am going majorly off topic here and discuss me; hence the title of the post. I even deliberated about that, as up until now I have been Joseph’s Mummy and I wondered at what age it is no longer appropriate for your child to address you as Mummy? Joseph stands a greater chance of being teased and the last thing I want is to add to that. I am a bit of a traditionalist and prefer the English version of Mother so will not be opting for Mom or Ma as an alternative to Mummy but may just hang on to it for a little while longer before I surrender to being a Mum.
Last week, I spent three days in a heaven known as ‘A Spa’. Some of you might be high-fiving me and some of you may me wondering how I have managed such an opportunity. Well, I have carefully planned my break around the nights Joseph is with his Dad and had help from my Mum as far as school pick ups were concerned. So for two and a half days I did not see Joseph, which is quite unusual as despite the time he has with his Dad I see him every single day. I wondered whether I would be able to shut off for that time and forget about responsibilities at home and work and the honest answer is no, I did not completely. You’re a parent 365 days a year, regardless of whose house your child is in and it’s near on impossible to completely switch off. My friend Gemma has told me (firmly) to stop saying I am selfish for taking myself off like this but I suppose its ingrained into you as a parent that you need to be there all of the time. I have learned to be selfish in order to stay functional and I justify it in my own head that everyone gets a better me when I have had chance to get a break once in a while. What’s different about this is it’s not a night out that you’re rushing to get ready for or a city break where it’s non-stop all weekend. It’s something you can do at your own leisurely pace.
I want to begin with my choice of spa as it seems I have become a spa snob and I will thank my friend Katie for that. When I was selecting where I wanted to go for a break for a couple of days, numerous options crossed my mind, but I thought a spa would give me mostly what I needed; rest, pampering and an injection of exercise. I was very clear on the type it should be and I wasn’t after a 4* hotel with a pool and a sauna branding itself as a spa. I had been spoilt previously and there is no way I was going to settle for a groupon spa day. Extravagance you may think, but why bloody not? Unfortunately my first choice was unable to accommodate me on the specific days I needed so I had to look at other options. I eventually booked somewhere I had never been previously, but had come with good reviews. My first spa experience was as a day guest in my early twenties which I won through work and went with my two friends, Vikki & Lucy. I have convinced myself it was for some great work achievement, but I think that is down to lack of memory and it was probably just recognition for turning up each day. I don’t think any of us took the day seriously and recall feeling a little bit intimidated by these middle-aged women sauntering about in towelling robes. I had a massage and we laughed about it after, that it was rather strange to be massaged and nobody wanting a sexual favour in return. It hit me whilst at the spa that maybe I am now viewed as one of these middle-aged women sauntering about in a towelling robe.
I was slightly apprehensive but a little excited at the prospect of the trip as I was going it alone and wondered how it would pan out. I actually had nothing to worry about as there were quite a few people there who weren’t with friends or in a couple and it was actually nice to have nobody to consider other than me (apologies to my regular partners in crime that I actually liked not having to think about you!). The most I had to worry about was timing my meals around my activities (don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just lettuce leaves at these places as that is far from the truth). Typical of me, that I still needed to plan things whilst on my break and I found myself making notes of where I needed to be and when. I figured it was a small price to pay for the benefits that I was about to reap.
I read, spinned (spun?), circuited, massaged, swam, hiked, dance fusioned (please don’t ask!) and slept. Yes, I did say slept. My internal alarm clock still managed to wake me at 06:00 but I screwed my eyes up and forced myself to sleep until at least 07:30. Whenever I am away from home though I have this amazing ability to just nod off in the day, at a drop of a hat. This reminds me of a trip to Portugal a few years ago with my great friend Hazel, where she accused me of having narcolepsy. It was a fair diagnosis to make though given I spent at least half of the weekend partying hard and the other half asleep. And I’m not just talking about staying in bed most of the day. I mean nodding off on the way to the airport, on the plane, on the coach to the hotel, and on the way back from the airport. The first time I nodded off on the plane, I woke up and announced to Golf Man at the side of me that I was ridiculously hot and was going to vomit and made a swift exit to the toilet at the back of the plane. I was not sick and returned and had at least ten minutes of conversation with him before nodding off again, only to wake just before landing, clutching my head and announcing that I thought I was now suffering from some sort of aneurysm. I am glad that Hazel (and Golf Man) saw the funny side but slightly concerned of their lack of attention to my medical needs at the time. I am certain that his golfing group asked to sit nowhere near us on the return journey though. Poor old Hazel must have been wondering what she was letting herself in for at this point.
So within an hour of me arriving at the spa, I had plonked myself at the side of the pool and had predictably fallen asleep. When I woke, I felt the need to write down a mountain of things I wanted to talk about in my blog. Refreshingly, there were no mobile phones allowed in most of the areas so I found some paper and a pen and started making notes. I started to read one of the books I had taken, but my mind kept wandering from the story to what is reality and I smiled to myself thinking about the similarities between the character’s life and personality to that of my own. The central character had experienced a serious health problem that had led her to be hospitalised for a significant amount of time and she had given much thought to karma and whether her illness was penance for some earlier misdemeanour. She went on to write a book about thoughts she’d had whilst laid in the hospital bed and made herself (semi) rich doing it. I have lost count the amount of times that I had considered that Joseph’s autism is a punishment from God for not having a squeaky clean record of my own but I accept that I am different to this character and that I won’t get rich from my ramblings about life.
I had questioned my own beliefs after Joseph’s diagnosis and tested my faith by attending church again. I hoped that by receiving a blessing week on week at our local church, it would somehow ease the pain and the burden that I felt at the time. I suppose this declaration will come as a shock to some of you, possibly more so than my earlier admissions about what was going around in my head as I struggled to cope with everything, but yes I have faith. My last post addressed the need for some of us to believe in something we will never see or possibly feel and regardless of what your faith is (religious or not) we all need something or someone to believe in. In the past I have experimented with spiritualism, but my early years were guided by a Church of England belief. Joseph enjoyed the musical aspect of the church services but he never wanted to sit still and some of the older congregation found that difficult to witness, especially as he loved to dance around the altar. When I didn’t receive any direct sign from God or an apology from him, I decided to knock it on the head. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God but neither does it mean that I am willing to say I don’t have a belief in a greater being; I just haven’t figured out what it is yet. I like the idea that there is something out there bigger than all of us and the mystery that surrounds it. I’ve always thought that if someone has a belief, no matter what it is, if it helps them along their journey than surely it has to be a good thing; your belief is personal to you whether that be health, sport, spiritual or beer!
I tried hard to concentrate on the three books I took with me (I read fast) but always, I found myself floating off to places I didn’t necessarily want it to be and it was a struggle to keep awake or my mind on the book. Rather than beating myself up about it though, I just tried to go with the flow and enjoy the time I had there. Some of the people there were there just for the relaxation element and despite me yearning for that time, I cannot help myself and booked on to high intensity exercise sessions. One of the private members there laughed when I said I had booked for spinning immediately after circuit. Okay, that was a little ambitious given that their classes lasted slightly longer than I am used to at home. And the spin bikes were something out of the 90s and left me walking like John Wayne when I fell out of bed the next morning. The point I am trying to make though is you cannot run from who you really are. My life will always be busy and I’ll be pulled from pillar to post and complain that I don’t get enough time to just chill, but when I do have that opportunity, it doesn’t feel quite right to sit and do nothing; at least not all of the time.
The friend who reprimands me for calling myself selfish, says that spas should be prescribed on the NHS and without opening up a huge debate about that, I have to agree. How long do I reap the benefits for though before complaining about being tired and busy and needing another dose of spa? Three whole days and then I was back up at 04:00, chuntering and swearing away like the docker I am.
Roll on the next one!