When a bin isn’t JUST a bin!
I had an altercation this morning over a bin! We left our bins out. We had bin day, and then when bin day was over, we did not walk our bins back up the driveway. A few days later our bins are still out. Most weeks our bins are out for longer than they should be. We SUCK at bringing our bins in.
This morning another mother decided to tell me how crap my bin returning skills were by dumping my bins in my driveway. On our busy road, I have to slam my car into reverse across both lanes of traffic and accelerate backwards up the slope that is our driveway. So, this time when I went to reverse, there are our bins, blocking our driveway. I am left side-on in the middle of the busy road, traffic approaching from both directions with nowhere to go. I manage to avoid an accident. I then pull over, drag the bins to the side, run back to my car and park it. I am embarrassed and I am later than I already was.
So what? What’s the big deal?
Let me explain…
To the mother that dumped the bins in the driveway, I get it. I really do, I get it. You too are a mother. You too have a million responsibilities and it is exhausting. You push your child in their pram each day up the massive hill to drop your child at the day-care at the top of the hill. No doubt you are in a hurry and have somewhere to be. And… Every… Time… The damn bin is in the way. You have to cross the road. The road is busy. Or, you have to duck from the footpath onto the road around the bins and then back onto the footpath again. The pram is heavy, the gutters are deep. No easy feat. Completely unsafe and a pain in the arse!
However, you chose to spill you rage onto me. You made a choice not to be kind. You did not reach out to me. You did not ask me why my bins are always out. In fact, you assured me that your bins are never out past bin day, and you assured me that I was in fact crap, and that I suck at bin returning (OK, I adlib a bit, but picture nasty from a cranky nasty face).
And on this day I needed kindness.
I didn’t even realise that I needed kindness until after I “met” with you. I only realised that I had needed a little grace once I started crying. You see once you were gone I started crying and then I couldn’t stop.
This morning I read an article in the news. The story has been in the headlines a lot in the past few days. It tells of a woman whose husband rigged their house with gas to end the lives of his wife and two children. I am not sure if the wife knew of his plan. I am not sure of a lot of the details except that they had two children with autism who required significant care. The children were non-verbal and attended a special school. When I read the story, what stood out to me the most was that the neighbour had remarked that, in hind sight, the mother always looked pained and she did not look happy. I now wonder if they sometimes, or often times, left their bins out past bin day too.
You see I too am a mother to a child who has autism. My story though is a happy one. My son talks and talks, he is happy, loves school, tells me he loves me all the time, and he loves his sister and plays with her. When he was younger and I was less grey, I grieved. I did not know if he would EVER be able to do any of these things. Now, I am grateful every day for his progress. But to tell you the truth I am completely and utterly drowning. He still has difficulties, and I still worry for him. Every day. He has trouble regulating his emotions, he still hasn’t made any friends, he has trouble eating and I have to make special meals for him, it is stressful taking him anywhere as he isn’t aware of his surroundings so he will walk in front of cars or take his pants down before he is in the toilet cubical. So I ‘hover’ over him trying to pre-empt any dangers or inappropriate behaviours. I am also a mother to my daughter. And damn, mothering can be hard work. My husband works 10 hours a day, and so comes home as I am tucking the children into bed. I have also gone back to study. I want to help other children like my son. It is a privilege to be able to study. I thought for a long time that I would not be able to work anymore because of my son’s care. I am so, so grateful that I have this opportunity. But, to be honest it is too much. I have taken on too much. I should withdraw, I should give up. I feel guilt each day because I rush in and out and I could be doing better for my children. I should be spending more time organising the house, cooking better meals, mowing the lawn and….. bringing the bins in. And this morning, for me, the bin incident crumbled my house of teetering cards.
So what is the point of this long-winded rant?
Well, I listen to other mothers of children with autism and mothers of children with other special needs, and their lives are tough. Tougher than you could imagine. And they need to be supported. This morning I needed kindness, and a little bit of gentleness, and my life is far simpler than the lives that some of these other mothers are living. These “other mothers” usually struggle in silence. They absolutely love their children. They live for their children. They love being parents but they often carry an enormous burden. A mother is not able to label their child a “burden”, it goes against maternal laws to proclaim them as such. And even when these mothers get so desperate that that do scream for help, their cries usually go unanswered to the tune of “there’s not enough funding”. So in silence they struggle. They struggle and they struggle and they struggle. Every day.
So finally, I will be frank. I am sick of hearing that these warrior mothers, that are doing their darndest just to survive, are struggling. And what makes me angry about the bin is- what if the damn bin belonged to one of them? What if it belonged to the woman in the article? If it took me two hours to stop crying, how much more vulnerable are other women caring for children with more considerable needs?
So, please, be kind, or as the bible says- love your neighbour. Walk up to the front door and ask about the bins. Your neighbour may be a slack-arse, or there may be more to the bins saga than just the bins…
SOMETIMES A BIN IS NOT JUST A BIN.
Next time you look at a bin that has been left on the footpath, please look away from the bin and toward the family. Do they need help, are they overwrought? It may be a silent flashing beacon that all is not well. And please, remember love your neighbour. And if that’s too much to ask, just continue to walk around the damn bin and say nothing.
P.S. I accept that this mother does not deserve the wrath and judgement of all nasty women that ever lived and I intend to invite her to tea. I will also endeavour to be less crap at pulling up the bins so that the walkway is free.
P.P.S. Tea is actually code for a whoppin’ big flagon of wine.
Author: Yonita Bailey