I had a realization the other night while having dinner with a friend. Although I’m a good mom, I’m not a great one, a simple yet profound realization for me. All this time I thought that all of my mommy efforts, the hundreds of activities that I’ve done with my children were selfless acts of mommy love and that’s simply not true.
As we were discharged from the hospital with our very sick little boy I couldn’t get the words, underestimating autism out of my head. They just kept popping up amidst the fog that had entered my brain since we took our son to the ER the day before. Seeing my child in pain, putting him through painful tests without any preparation and not knowing how much he understood was heartbreaking.
In November, my husband’s campaign for local office ended in victory on election night. Almost a year of talking politics, strategies and campaigning was finally over. The best part was that he won! I should have been elated, right? We should be basking in the afterglow of a long and tiresome campaign season coming to an end. Instead I felt tired and a little sad. We had worked so hard and had been focused on Election Day for so long that when it finally passed, even with a successful win, I didn’t feel much like celebrating.
Let’s face it. Parenting is hard. H.A.R.D. In the beginning, especially the first couple of months it is ALL work and very little reward. Yes you have this beautiful child, this life that you created. Your child is a miracle. Your child is beautiful. Your child is a screaming, needy, milk guzzling, bundle of poo that doesn’t care if you are tired, hungry, sad or happy. His wants and needs come first...period. Without as much as a word of thanks, or even a sly wink or head nod to acknowledge that he recognizes and appreciates the sacrifices you are making for him.
"So that’s that.” I thought as I hung up the phone with the doctor. She had just informed me that my “neurotypical” child, my youngest son, Eli was also on the spectrum. His older brother, Owen was diagnosed with autism shortly after Eli was born. This shouldn’t have come as a big surprise because I know the large part genetics plays in autism and I’ve been watching Eli for red flags since birth. He first began showing signs of autism at four months old. However, as his language took off, along with his ability to follow one and two step directions and engage socially with his peers, I dared to believe that he was neurotypical. Even then, my thoughts constantly bounced between “Is he?” and “Isn’t he?” Still, hearing the words out loud came as a surprise and they stung a little.
I get it. Constant posts, pictures and videos on social media from proud parents of their little ones can get a bit annoying. I’m guilty of it, but I get it. Let’s face it, new parents have always been known for talking nonstop about their little ones and now there’s actually an online platform for them to brag to hundreds of their online friends. For those not consumed with baby fever, I completely understand how it could get annoying.
When my son was first diagnosed with autism I researched and read everything I could find on the subject. The amount of information available on the internet about autism is staggering and not all of it is accurate. I thought I would write a post outlining the information that I found most helpful during that time.