It’s 2018 and it’s time to start writing. Testing 1, 2, 3.
Not long ago, I had a well-meaning teacher say that I should take my seat in the gym, at the school-wide Christmas concert, and enjoy being “just a mom” for once. I was being more than a mom in her eyes, worried about who was supporting my child as no support had been brought in for the evening performance and my child typically requires full-time support. I was being more than a mom in her eyes because I offered to help out in his classroom during the one and a half hour wait that I knew was required until it was his performance time.
But in my eyes, I was just being a mom. I am my son’s mom, and thoughtful, creative accommodation is part of being his mom. Loving him and thinking of his needs is just being his mom. I want to be seen as just a mom, because if leaving him to his own devices is the only way I will be just a mom, it may be a long, long time until I am just a mom.
I wonder what I was being, if not just a mom. That was the part that struck me – was I being a therapist mom? An overprotective mom? A worried mom? A “special needs” mom? An autism mom?
I have also been called, as if it is a compliment, a warrior mom. I’m not sure what this term is meant to imply, but it doesn’t sound like something I want to be – battling and fighting and warring at every turn. I loathe this term “warrior mom” and can’t see a day that I like it, but I have had my mind changed many times in my life, so I should never say never.
I have been called an amazing mom, when what I think I’m doing is just being the mom my kids need. An amazing mom would also exercise, meditate, go to church, be at peace with her lot in life, and much more. I am not, yet, that mom. And so I don’t seen my mom-work as amazing at all.
I also bristle at all the superlatives attached to my motherhood, as if I have now signed up for a super-sized full-meal deal, when I really only wanted a small coke and fries. Maybe I am more than a mom, or maybe my motherhood is harder or more taxing or something, but there is no release from that motherhood, there is no do over, no trade backs (not that I want to – don’t get me wrong, but why describe someone’s reality as “more than” when it will always be so more than), so really, I’m just a mom.
Five years on, with two autistic children who are, by all accounts, happy and doing well, I know they think I am, and I think I am, just a mom. That’s all we can strive to be, and do it the best we can with the hand we are dealt and the day we are having. I raise my glass to all of you working hard and being just moms out there.
I’ll never forget the year Queen Elizabeth referred to 1992 as an annus horribilis in her Christmas address. My mum loved waiting for those late morning addresses, and each year we would watch them without fail. That same year, although my mum didn’t know it yet, her breast cancer had just been detected in a her first screening mammogram at age 50.
Fast-forward twenty years and my own little family’s annus horribilis was about to begin as our son entered the public school system in our past school district. My first post on this blog preceded those very difficult years. And today, I can say, we are through them. I’m sure there will be difficult times ahead, but we can look back and see we survived to thrive – and we will do that again if we must. Because together, we can.
For the first time in a long time, I am truly excited about the future. The future for my children, the future for my family, and the future for me. Our journey to get here has been long, it has been hard, but most of all it has been a pure success to see the joy continuing to bloom and bloom in my two children.
I don’t know if this blog will end up being about autism therapy, autism parents, autistic children, diagnosis, the politics of ableism, or simply about the growth of my own awareness about the true definition of happiness as defined by joy. Two years hence, if I am as happy as I am today, I will be blessed. Two years have passed since our two children were diagnosed with autism. I can’t imagine where we will be in two years hence, but for the first time in a very long time I am excited to see…