Life without boundaries

It’s not what you think, this post.  It’s not about living without fear, jumping off cliffs, skydiving, or pushing yourself to extreme limits…

I’m talking about Maura’s lack of boundaries.

The child has no clue about the words “personal” and “space”.  She does not understand that in life, there are some boundaries you shouldn’t cross.

Sometimes this means I’m holding onto her in parking lots, or sending a sibling to follow her up the structures at playgrounds.  In Ireland, it meant keeping at least two hands on her at all times near cliff edges, because she of poor balance always wanted to look over the sheer drop.

But usually I’m referring to the more personal boundaries.  In other words, the girl is a bit of a leech.

Maura has always craved physical contact, and loves attention.  She also cracks herself up by doing certain things, like poking me over and over and over and over, while saying “Mom…Mom…Mom..”, or having the need to hug me when anyone on the television has a tender moment.

Most of the time, I deal with it well.  Last night at church however, I hit sensory overload.

Maura was in rare form – poking me, putting her arm around me, thumb sucking, gnawing on fingers, wanting to put her feet up on the back of the pew, wanting to stick her finger up her nose, flipping through the song books and bulletin.  Over and over, rinse and repeat.

Which would have been bad enough, except the teen stuck next to Maura during all this was intermittently bouncing his leg and trying to keep her from sticking her finger up her nose while clocking him in the shins with the kneeler.

This is how, during the Sign of Peace, I found myself foot wrestling with Maura after she nailed her brother in the shin with the kneeler well enough for him to say “ow!” out loud during Mass.  As everyone else was wishing each other peace, I had Maura in a bear hug, throwing my one leg over both of hers while hissing “No! Leave it!” in her ear, trying to keep her from lifting and dropping the kneeler again.

I either looked like the epitome of patience or the most stressed out mother in the world to the people around us.  I was really trying for the former, I think I achieved the latter.

Only those of us living the dream truly understand this level of touched outness.  It’s not just one day, but day after day, month after month, years of it.  As my mother would say, it’s like being nibbled to death by ducks.

I know some parents have little sensory break areas for their special kiddos.  I think I may need one.  My own blanket tent, maybe with some fairy lights, a cushion and blanket, a book to read, and a wine fridge.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Hanging onto Maura at a cliff's edge, in 2011.  She thinks hugs are great luckily.
Hanging onto Maura at a cliff’s edge, in 2011. She thinks hugs are great luckily.