Day 100: End Post

solstice 009In September this year I wrote a couple of posts reflecting on the role which blogging had played in developing my thinking about autism and my practice as a parent to Dylan. One of the posts focused on the process of writing and the other on the role of online dialogue; both factors, I suggested, had contributed significantly to the way in which I support Dylan.

I wrote those posts to mark the end of Living With Autism and the beginning of the 100 Day Transition Project I called Living With(out) Autism. The new name was an attempt to capture the dual, and shifting, nature of the space I would occupy in the early months of Dylan’s transition into residential care. I wasn’t sure, at that point, how my writing would change or if a daily blog could be sustained. In Learning By Writing, for example, I expressed doubts about my ability to produce the shorter posts required for a daily blog and questioned whether such posts would be of interest to readers.

In the last 100 days I have discovered I was wrong on both counts. I have also found, to my surprise, that shorter daily posts are equally capable of supporting learning and development. Shifts in understanding are not always dependent on critical incidents and some of my strongest insights have emerged from the most quotidian of days.

solstice 011 Making daily blog posts is such an intense activity that the project has been almost as much about the writing, for me, as about the 100 Days.Considering Living With(out) Autism to be partly a vehicle for writing practice feels acceptable – even appropriate –  because the focus of my project was transition, a process which affects me as much as it does Dylan. While my blog posts have tried to consider transition from Dylan’s point of view, more often (I think, though I haven’t checked) they have focused on my own needs as I adjust to living without Dylan.

There is a sense, then, in which this project has been about the working out of new identities for Dylan and for myself. I have always been aware of  juggling multiple identities as poet, academic, mother to my children and Dylan’s advocate. Since Dylan moved to residential care, however, the orchestration of these identities has shifted; some have moved sideways, into the wings, while others are stepping out of the shadows. My self-identity will, in future, no  longer be constructed quite so much around my relationship to Dylan. Furthermore, instead of being Dylan’s ‘carer’, I am now simply his ‘mother’; this makes a difference to how I think about myself as well as to our relationship.

A few people have asked what my plans are after the 100 Days. There are a couple of academic papers I’d like to write. Maybe I’ll get around to starting the novel I’ve been turning over in my head these last 20 years. I think what I want to do most of all, however, is focus on writing poetry for a while. But who knows  – perhaps I’ll take a complete break from writing and do none of these. I’ve also been asked if I’ll post updates about Dylan in the future. I haven’t ruled that out (perhaps as an occasional strand of a more general blog rather than a focus in itself) but I hope I never feel compelled to tell Dylan’s story as I did when I started this blog in 2013. When Dylan was born I wished for ordinary happiness for him; now, more than ever, I bless the unremarkable, quotidian days.

I’m marking at the moment. One of the observations I sometimes make on a student’s work is: ‘This essay doesn’t end, it just stops’. I fear I may be tying myself in a similar knot. To close, therefore, I will simply thank each and every one of you for reading my posts and for your interest in Dylan and his story. It has made a good difference to us. I wish you a happy and peaceful New Year: I will miss you.

 

solstice 008

 

Images:
The photos were taken in Sheffield city centre this week. I like the multicultural, multi-faith nature of my hometown. Dylan has his head turned to the sky, by the Christmas tree, to look at the statue of Vulcan on the town hall. All his life he has loved this: ‘A man! A man!’ he cries. In the last three years I have watched my son become one.

11 thoughts on “Day 100: End Post

  1. Dear Liz,
    A Happy and Peaceful New Year to you also. I will miss finding your blog posts in my inbox and hearing about your life. You have a capacity for insightful reflection, the ability to express complex emotions and a questing after truth in your soul. (Isn’t that, at least in part, what wonderful poetry is about?)
    I have found reading the blog very moving and wish you and your family well for the future.
    Tom

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tom thank you for that – lovely things to hear. I want to thank you for reading and commenting on my blog over the years – you have been a stalwart follower and I enjoyed reading your comments, which I always found uplifting and affirming. Thank you for that – my wishes to you, and your family.

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  2. Many congratulations Liz – you are a serious (and imaginative) inspiration and I’m sure more great writing will follow. You will be writing at least one academic paper, if I’ve anything to do with it……

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your hundred days have been most beautifully written. I don’t know what else I would so willingly have turned to almost every single day, and when I missed one for some reason, hurried back to catch up. Thank you for them. A privilege to be part of this reading community. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Nell. You know, I hope, what an important reader you have been to me. We are all busy, I know, but you spend so much of your life reading things that it meant a lot to me that you found the time to read, and often to comment on, my posts. Your comments frequently offered just the sort of reassurance and wisdom I needed and meant a lot to me. Thank you, x

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  4. Hi, Liz and Dylan, how are you? I hope you could have a very special Christmas…

    Unfortunately some problem in the system prevented several messages I’ve sent to this blog to be published… 😦

    I wish you a GREAT 2016, and please, keep blogging… 🙂

    Best regards

    Eder

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    • Hi Eder – lovely to hear from you – someone else has emailed me to say they experienced the same problems trying to leave a comment on my blog as you – some WordPress glitch no doubt. Thank you for persisting 🙂 Thank you for being such a loyal follower of my blog – I’ve loved your comments 🙂 Dylan and I have had a lovely Christmas thank you – he is well and seems happy – we are planning a trip to the seaside for new year 🙂 I wish you a really fabulous 2016, Eder. Love from us, x

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  5. Pingback: Snowdrops, Updates, Opportunities | Living with(out) Autism

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