When I first started my blog in September, I thought I was being a trail blazer in the world of parenting autism, and other stuff, but soon discovered I did not invent the wheel and maybe I needed to check my ego at the door. What I did find is that I am nearly middle-aged and hadn’t been paying attention to the increased trend in mommy blogging. I share this not to judge. On the contrary, I’m impressed by the enormous representation of parents of all ages who are willing and able to not only maintain a blog, but do it while tending to their young children. Did I think about blogging sooner? Yes, absolutely! However, by the time I had my third son, my oldest was newly 5 and my second son was 2. I looked like a walker from The Walking Dead, wandering aimlessly, trying to find a burp cloth, sippy cup, or “Predator,” a favorite monster truck that suddenly disappeared from a collection of seventy-three. If I had any free time, I either napped, showered or brushed my teeth. Not always in that order and never all three on the same day.
More than the fatigue, blogging was an impossibility because I lacked confidence and focus. But the biggest factor contributing to resistance to blog is that I had my own personal crap to iron out. My human development was arrested . My fear, worry and self-pity was breaking me apart. I felt that it was my fault that 2 out of 3 of my children have Autism. These personal defects kept me from being the kind of mother I had always dreamed I’d be.
Then, one day, things changed. When my oldest turned 9 (nearly 7 years ago) I had a huge spiritual “shift” in my existence. I began to travel a road of self discovery – to dig deep and recover my authentic self. This was a road that I had longed to take for years, but was too afraid. Like with any kind of change, life can become messy. Was it a mid-life crisis? Some may argue, yes. Honestly, it was much more than that. My “shift” in “being human” was massively profound and continues to be.
So, instead of blogging for the past 7 years, I was in therapy. I desperately wanted to let go of my past and current fears and learn how to “Adult”. I was not strong at “Adulting.” I gave myself permission to care for myself and overcome some of my own challenges as a human. I dove into self discovery, self acceptance, and healing of my past. I was reading inspirational books by Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle and Marianne Williamson. I joined self-help groups and talked a lot with close friends and a few family members about this “shift” I was experiencing. I came to find others were “shifting” too! I became immersed in becoming better acquainted with my spirituality, my relationship with God and what James Hillman calls your “souls code” from his book “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling”. During this time I had countless spiritual awakenings or what Oprah calls “ah hah moments.” Actually, for me, they felt like “ah hah moments on steroids.” My family committed to an Episcopal Church in town that is so beautifully inclusive and has a strong and supportive community. My neuro-diverse family was instantly accepted. Not one person batted an eye to whenever my son stood up during a service and shouted “BLESS YOU!!” after a parishioner sneezed fourteen rows behind us. Nor did they question when he HAD TO bring specific items he was obsessed with to church. One time it was “red elephant.” It made crunchy noises during the entire service. The other time it was an actual mallet (not a rubber toy one) – just like from the cartoon “Tom and Jerry”. (see pictures) Parishioners actually joined us in our adoration of his unique interests. Rest assured, he only held that mallet. He never actually used it to harm anyone.
Before this “shift” in my existence, I know I wasn’t the best mother I could be. People close to me have disputed that. But I was good at keeping emotionally painful things to myself. I hid things well. My default was not to burden anyone. I found that once I started getting honest with myself, things began to improve. About six years ago, I learned that I had been living with undiagnosed depression, anxiety and ADD. Medication changed my life. Regular visits with my therapist and self-help groups helped to heal some very old wounds. I came to understand why I blamed myself for my children’s Autism. Over time, I became free from the chains of my past and fears of the future. This freedom opened up huge amounts of space for me to be present for my children, my husband, my friends and my extended family. I learned to live in the present. Just for today.
I suppose that is why I am comfortable joining the world of blogging late in the game. The extra baggage I carried around years ago was too raw. I had too many layers to peel away and discard forever. I have perspective now and can see how healing myself has ultimately healed our family.
It feels a little scary that I shared so much. But I can’t help but think that other parents may be able to identify with my experiences.
So, even though there are days that can be difficult in raising children with (and with out) special needs, they don’t feel incredibly heavy anymore. They feel manageable for me. I’m not so afraid anymore. I see my kids are doing ok. I believe that they will be ok. My children have a more peaceful mother (except when I’m competing with Fortnite) I don’t take myself so seriously anymore. My head is not distracted by guilt, shame and sadness.
Ironing out my pain, a form of self-care, has been life changing. It has enabled me be more present and more in tuned with my sons’ needs, while not being distracted by the burden of regrets of my past or fears about our futures. For this, I am so incredibly grateful.