This is a picture of a ray (maybe a sting ray) that I saw at the Monterey Bay Aquarium many years ago. It’s not very good quality, and it has nothing to do with this post. But there it is.
I realize that my blog posts are sometimes not geared toward the positive side of Autism, as the name of my blog might imply, and for that; I apologize. But I’m really too lazy to create another blog entitled; “Shi^^y mom is tired.” I’ll try and incorporate a positive note that has something to do with Autism at the end.
I’m just curious as to when we parents (can’t say moms because there are plenty of stay at home dads and dads in general) first started expecting perfection from ourselves? More than that, when did we shift from just; acknowledging the fact that we had parents that made sure we didn’t die, to blaming our parents for absolutely everything “wrong” in our lives? Maybe that’s when the shift towards being a perfect parent happened; when kids grew up to hate their parents for A, B, and C because research showed that their actions caused us to have G, F, and Z. Now, there are of course circumstances in which clearly the parents sucked and should be blamed for the child growing up to be messed up in the head; molestation, traumatic experiences, unsafe environments due to physical abuse..etc. But when did we start nit picking everything the parent did and saying; “hey! That’s why I can’t make friends, that’s why I can’t find the right girl!” or whatever the case may be?
I was so nervous with my first child, I can’t even begin to describe it. Literally; everything I did, said, bought, thought, ate, gave to her, every smile I gave to her, EVERYTHING, I was double guessing and blaming myself. She was too skinny (according to the doctors), and so I blamed myself for that (even though her dad is a 6 foot 5 inch bean pole). When she had anger problems, I blamed myself for that. When I was frightened of her because of her anger problems, I blamed myself for that. I literally wouldn’t forgive myself for anything. I thought that since I grew up messed up (my mom wasn’t exactly perfect), then obviously everything I did was a direct reflection of how she looked and acted. It just HAD to be my fault for everything. I blamed myself all the way into a very serious antidepressant at the highest legal dosage for an over the recommended period of time.
I eventually calmed down (when she went into full time daycare and preschool) and began to better myself and try and forgive not only my mother, but myself as well. I went off the meds, began exercising, eating right, and became a somewhat happy and smokin hot mom. Having an Autistic child brings a whole new flood of the old feelings, mixed in with new ones. Research shows that it IS in fact MY fault for my son’s Autism. They are saying that lack of exercise, gaining too much weight during pregnancy, and low Vitamin D levels in pregnancy, are all things in common with moms that have Autistic kids. But it’s more than that. The schools, state, and TV shove down your throat how talking to your belly and all the way up until they reach the age of 3 is the most important thing you can do to give them a leg up. So if you have an Autistic child who isn’t talking by the age of 2 and a half…well…you’re kind of forgiven because they have “special needs” but; “have you tried reading to him?” WHAT?! Are you freaking kidding me!? I might as well have been reading to my husband’s BALLS and my OVARIES! Guess what? He’d still be Autistic and STILL not talking. Because guess what, we are all born different! That isn’t my fault, it’s the diagnosis.
I know he was born with an AMAZING ability to do math, memorize pictures, and figure out puzzles. He just happens to not get the concept of talking. That’s just how he is. There are other forms of communicating. However, there is more to this “disorder” than the inability to talk. I have to help him in his ABA to make sure he does mouth movements, learns to point, jumps, and a million other things that other toddlers just learn on their own, without guidance or suggestions. SO of course, when he needs to learn a new one; I find myself blaming myself for not realizing he should have already known how to do A or should naturally do C. Now add into the mix….the other child.
I don’t spend “enough” time with my daughter, because I’m busy trying to dampen my son’s temper, or keep him from stimming the window too hard, or reminding him to sign his desires, or getting kicked because he’s getting his diaper changed. By the time she gets home from school, I look and feel like a wreck. She needs help with her homework, she has reading to do, and he still needs his “special” care. It leaves me overwhelmed, them “under” cared for, them hurt, me hurt, and I tell myself; “I’m a horrible parent. I should have done….I shouldn’t have said…” But when I go to bed, I tell myself; “It’s ok, tomorrow’s a new day and you won’t make the same mistakes twice.” HA! The Hell I won’t! I make them over and over and over again because I’m too exhausted not to. And sometimes, I think; “I’m sorry mom. I’m sorry for how I treated you. I’m sorry I blamed you for everything. Did you make mistakes? Of course you did. But you did your best and you got up every dam* day to do what you could.”
I, of course, can never actually tell her any of this. My mother hasn’t tried to contact me in the 6 years that we haven’t spoken. Why don’t I reach out to her? Because the last time I did, she blamed me for mistakes that were clearly her’s and wouldn’t take responsibility for any of her actions. I know she wasn’t perfect. I know I’m not perfect. But I at least admit I suck, and I apologize to my child when I’m in the wrong.
Anyway, that was kind of a side rant. But the main point is; we expect ourselves to be perfect, because we don’t want our kids or society to blame us for any of their mishaps or short comings in life. My Little Man will never be perfect. He might have a hard time finding/making friends or finding a job or whatever, but he will be; fed, clothed, have a roof over his head, hugs when he wants them (on his terms),and all the education I can give him to help him succeed. Will it still be my fault if he has to be home schooled due to bullying and create a home business because no one will hire him? I don’t know. Will he blame me? I don’t know, but I hope not.
Thanks to the power of Autism, I find myself blaming other mothers less often than I used to. To the mom of the screaming toddler in isle 4; I feel you. To the mom yelling at her kid to just “get in the car” at school; I’ve been there. To the mother of an autistic child that hits you; you can do this! I’ll probably continue to blame myself ( I just can’t seem to help it) but I won’t be blaming you any more. Don’t get me wrong; if you do something like slap your kid in the face, I will come over and stick my foot up your keester. But if you’re wrestling to get their coat on while holding back tears, I would be more than happy to help you.
Humans aren’t perfect. Moms aren’t perfect. Dads aren’t perfect. Have a cup of wine. Have 6 extra cookies. Binge watch a few more episodes of Inuyasha, because you not only lived through the day, but your kids are too. So congratulations, you made it! Good luck tomorrow.