The one where I return to blogging, if only to defend my position as an Autism Mom
Today in my Status Updates feed I came across a blog post titled “Top Five Reasons You Should Never Piss Off An Autism Mom” and I was intrigued. Being an autism mom myself, I wanted to know what these reasons were, you know, just in case. Also, to help warn others when *ahem* I got pissed off. However, as I read the post, I became confused. I’m not going to say I got angry, because honestly? I was actually disappointed.
I get it. I do. It’s tough to be a parent and for some, it becomes even more challenging when your child is diagnosed with something that people can’t relate to; or for some not really want to understand (NIMBY mentality). For all of the press and media that Autism gets, it still is difficult for those who are not dealing with it day in and day out to understand what the person is going through, not to mention the parents. Yes, I have been looked at sideways in stores when I am with my child. I have even been criticized in my own family for either doing too much or too little to help my child which doesn’t sit well with me, but I am comfortable and confident in my decisions regarding the care and advocacy of my child. And yes, I do get frustrated and angry at the unfairness of people. But, I’m a strong believer in the “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” theory (meaning I know they would not walk a mile in my shoes if given the choice or chance). I also understand wanting to scream from the rooftops that you ARE doing the best you can; you ARE a good parent, and you ARE NOT deserving of the comments, looks and stares you get in public. I totally do. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
That being said, in my opinion, things like this post do nothing to help anyone, least of all the Autism Moms of the world. Here’s why:
By beginning a post calling out and stereotyping other groups who you feel are wronging you, you in turn do to them what you are accusing them of. It’s counter productive. Yes, there ARE people out there that have no filter, or feel justified to give you their two cents worth. But to call specific groups out does nothing but widen the gap even more, and remind us all that no matter what situation we are in, inevitably human nature makes us do the same thing we dislike in others. It also makes your argument fall short. Every. Single. Time. More importantly, we CAN disagree. That’s also in the human nature handbook, or so I have been told.
Raging back at small minded people, either in print or in person actually solves nothing; simply because actions like that are the equivalent of battling a Medusa. Cut one head off (or down) and another one will take it’s place. This is an uphill battle, and to put it into perspective; women have been fighting for equality for decades – AND WE ARE STILL FIGHTING. A sub-group of women aren’t going to make any more headway then our sisters already in the trenches. Not like this. Save the battles for what matters, continuing to raise awareness of Autism that help our children, not ostracize them (and us) further from people.
Even if I take a step back and say that this could be viewed as a humorous post, I really can’t find too much to find funny (and I don’t really think the author really wants us to). Again, I understand the “why me?” mentality. I just can’t subscribe to it. I know why God gave me the child I have. I know because at a major life crossroads I felt I didn’t have what it took to pursue something I have always dreamed of being, mostly because I thought I had a lack of patience. I made other decisions, other choices. The Man Upstairs has a wicked sense of humor. More importantly, he has an amazing insight as to what each and every one of us are capable of and why we are here. I’m awed and grateful each and every day to be my son’s mother. I’m lucky to have been chosen to parent this amazing, beautiful creature. Autism Moms and Dads are chosen because we have an innate ability to meet the demands of raising these children. We may not THINK sometimes that we are, but the reality is that we are. It is not our jobs to convince everyone else of that fact. That’s simply a road block that takes you away from the task at hand.
Motherhood in and of itself is a rather thankless task in our male-driven society. It is even more frustrating when our own gender thinks they know best. Probably? Those people have their own insecurities that they don’t deal with because it is easier to judge others. We all have insecurities. I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t. That is how they deal, I suppose. It’s what make us human. It’s easier to judge others than look inward. This is what I took away from this post.
My point (and I do have one), is this: YOU as an Autism Mom or Dad (or Mother or Father or human) know what you are capable of, even if you might not be using it to your full potential. DO WHAT YOU DO BEST. Love your child and be proud of them. Help them to unlock their own potential in this world. Don’t worry about what others think. Fight for what is important, the best opportunities for your child in such a closed-minded society that doesn’t like to deal with anything difficult or not is society’s norm. Fight to change that each and every day for and with your child. Fighting other people’s perceptions isn’t how that gets accomplished. Remembering that your child has just as much right to participate in society, and working to help put supports into place to help them do that, is where the battle is.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Our children. We were chosen to care for and represent these wonderful creatures that can and will teach all of us so much. Even those people referenced in the blog post.
I’d also like to give a shout out to the Autism Fathers who go through the same issues that Autism Moms do, some even alone. I’m honored to be in the trenches with you. Thank you for all that you do.
See what I did there? I blew apart a stereotype that even in our own group is STILL perpetuated. That it is just us moms holding down the fort. There are more of us, male and female, raising awareness and advocating. Sometimes that gets lost in all of this. Let’s work on changing that.
That will make all the difference in the world. For everyone.
this is my opinion, just as the person who’s post I referenced is her opinion. I’m not saying she does not have a right to her feelings, she totally does. I’m just saying that not all Autism Moms feel that way, and maybe a disclaimer needs to be added. Honestly? I completely agree with the lack of sleep and knowing how to fight. I’m just in disagreement with the presentation. Sorry.
Posted by admin @ 5:58 pm
| | January 28, 2012
The Dismantling of a Life
“Took my love, took it down…
climbed a mountain and I turned around…
and I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills…
but the landslide brought me down.” ~ Stevie Nicks, Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
The boxes are packed, the furniture moved and all that is left is dust bunnies and indentations where the furniture used to sit.
The remnants of a life. A life I once loved. A life that is no more.
I built my house 11 years ago. I watched them pour the slab; watched the walls take shape and made this house become a home. I welcomed my youngest son here. Had lots of good and not so good times here. Painted every single one of the walls in here.
Now this house is no longer my home. I thought I would be sad, but surprisingly I am not.
It’s time to move on.
And with an aching heart, my fears of failure firmly in my hip pocket, my boys at my side, and new memories to make in my new house, I shut the door.
…and I don’t look back.
Because it’s time to move on.
I am ready.
Posted by Shash @ 8:24 pm
| | September 27, 2010
So, what does a 38 year old woman carry her books in on her first day of college?
…a backpack or a stylish tote?
This is the question that has been plaguing my mind for weeks now.
It’s a welcome reprieve from all the stuff I’m dealing with as of late. A messy divorce, custody issues, staring over, and the usual life struggles and tribulations.
Tonight is my fist class in college. I’m 38. It’s Pre-Algebra. If (or more likely, when) I begin to struggle with it, my 15 year old son can tutor me. How pathetic is THAT?!? But it is what it is, and it’s one step closer to my goal of World Domination. So there’s that.
But back to the bag thing.
If I put my books in a backpack, does that make me look like I’m pretending to be young, and hip and cool? Or that I am trying too hard? Or is it just the right thing to do, except for my back which might curse me in time?
If I use a tote, does that make me look like I am old and decrepit? Like I waited too long to start achieving my goals? My shoulder will mutiny in time, because the books are heavy. But I have many totes, so this isn’t a problem.
I have a backpack too. It’s sitting by the door, ready to go to class if I want to use it.
I’m 38 years old.
Tonight is my first day of college classes.
I am a student, a mom, a single parent.
I am ready for this next chapter of my life.
Let’s do this.
Posted by Shash @ 9:52 am
| | May 10, 2010
At the tone, please leave a message…
So like any good mother (blogger?) does after being gone for awhile, I have dusted off the equipment, upgraded the surroundings, and so here I am.
A lot has changed.
I still work in education, but I’m planning a return to school to get my own degree in Education. Next week I go find out how I can do that without eating from of a can of Pork and Beans for the remainder of my life.
I’m still a mom so that hasn’t changed. Phew.
I’m growing and learning and changing things about me. Some that needed to be changed, and some that I’m going to have to change due to circumstances. As the days progress some of these things get easier. Notice I didn’t say less painful, because WHOOO BOY, the pain. It’s harsh. But I suppose all of this is necessary. So I trudge onward. Now, I WILL take steps backward. It’s inevitable. But the primary momentum is forward. Always forward.
Even if I fall sometimes. Or often.
My life is changing. Who I am is changing. The life I have lead for sixteen years is changing. It doesn’t matter about the hows or the whys, because those things are not going to alter the outcome. The outcome will be the same.
I am in the process of getting divorced.
And that is why I have stepped back from blogging, and why I will be scarce for some more time. The details are not up for public consumption. Crazed Mommy is in Mama Bear mode. It is what it is, and while it isn’t sunshine and roses and rainbows, at some point there is hope we will at least see the sunshine, smell some roses, and enjoy a rainbow or two down the road.
I have hope for that, anyway. Time will tell.
So for now, I’m sifting through the wreckage, seeing what’s salvageable, holding close a few things to my heart, and preparing to Garage Sale the rest. The process in some ways is cathartic; and in others brutally, excruciatingly painful.
Very, very necessary.
So there it is.
I’m getting divorced.
and I think know I’m going to be okay.
Posted by Shash @ 6:21 pm
| | March 18, 2010
The job I am in now is very different from where I have been. Now I am at the epicenter of the school and each day I learn new things. Things that had I known as a parent when my eldest was in elementary school I might not have done half of them and probably drove the staff and teachers secretly nuts.
You probably are too and just don’t realize it.
I’m here to help.
Did you know?
You shouldn’t call the school and tell them your child is going to be out that day. The day they return send them in with a signed and dated note explaining the absence. Unless your child has the H1N1, then call because you will need classwork for him/her to do.This way they are caught up when they return to school. However, that being said…
If you call for your child’s homework, give it at least 24 hours before you go pick it up. A teacher’s day is jam packed with all kinds of stuff they have to do and gathering your child’s classwork they are missing is not part of the daily plan. However, they will gladly do this for you, but not immediately. They definitely thank you for your understanding.
Your child must be fever-free without medication for over 24 hours before they can return to school. So if little Susie spikes a fever at 3am and you give her Tylenol, you’d better be ready to stay home the next day with her. Nine times out of ten the school Nurse will be calling you to come pick her up anyway. Scientific Fact.
Head lice can happen to anyone, even you. Hey, I have a handy tip to help keep those pesky bugs out of your life. Ready? Use gel in your child’s hair. Hair spray? More, please. Lice hate hair products, so the more you remember to use them, the less likelier you will have to deal with head lice. So next time Johnny wants a fauxhawk in his hair, do it! Now, excuse me, because all this talk of head lice is making my head itch.
Yours too? Yeah, there’s another scientific fact for you. I’l be here all week. Enjoy the veal.
The highest percentage of phone calls I field begin with “Someone just called me from here.” Folks, a school is BIG. Lots and LOTS of phones dial in and out all the time. Caller ID is great, but chances are whomever called you used an internal line and it kicks to the front office when you call it back. The people in the front office have no idea who called you. So I offer this one piece of advice: Check your messages first before you call back. If a teacher or staff member is calling, they will most likely leave a message. This will help us help you better when you return the call. Also? If your child likes to call you to have you bring them lunch, or lunch money, or whatever, remind them to leave you a message. That helps the front office expedite your call enormously. /soapbox
We are now a few months into school, and the kids pretty much know how to get around the school campus. Parents, you no longer need to walk them to class, even if they are tardy. Let’s be honest, walking them to class is more for you now than it is for them. It’s time to let them walk to class on their own. They can do it. I promise. Let them. They like to show us how grown up they are.
Please, please, PLEASE do NOT send your child to school with a soda in their lunch. For so many reasons, but mostly because the chances of another student stealing it are rather high. If you are doing that (and sending in candy as well), it’s a pretty safe bet we know how you feel about your child’s teacher. Warm fuzzies optional.
The most important thing you need to know? If you are bringing McDonald’s to school for your child to eat at lunch with you? Make sure you bring some for those kind, friendly front office clerks that greet you with a smile everytime you come through the door. It would be greatly appreciated
Posted by Shash @ 3:55 pm
| | October 21, 2009
Thanks, Kelby, for naming a conference after me!*
Last weekend I flew to Asheville, NC for the Type A Mom Conference. Some of the things I took away from it were:
It’s always good to go somewhere
and reunite with really good friends.
Even moms can work it down a fashion show runway.
(and look smokin’ too!)
When you least expect it,
you find the courage to face a crowd
and help them learn something new.
(photo credit: Rick Bucich)
Bonds and new friendships can be made anywhere;
and passion transcends anything.
Even when talking about Special Needs.
Over dinner, we can learn so much about each other,
it’s like we have been friends for years.
Nightcaps in pajamas in the hotel bar
are the perfect way to end the day.
A great dress, sexy shoes,
and great supportive friends make anything possible.
Tiaras make everything awesome.
(photo credit: Kristile Cain)
Flying in small tin-can airplanes is made better with good friends
and funny jokes about mandatory poops and “lightening the load”.
Jessica, I’ll sit in your lap anytime.
No matter where you go,
it’s always good to come home to those who love you.
*For those who know me, the fact that I was going to a conference called Type A Mom, it made perfect sense.
Posted by Shash @ 9:45 pm
| | October 4, 2009
Sometimes A Change Can Do You Good
Wow, so the last time I updated was the first day of school?
Apparently I’m a very bad blogger. And I guess I need to be punished…
And at the beginning of this school year, I thought I was being punished. I was going from one position into another, one that was not what I had been doing for the past three years.
And I have loved what I have been doing for the past three years. It’s been very rewarding. I have learned so much, and I have had awesome opportunities.
But I wasn’t given much of a choice. I mean, I was given a choice, but it wasn’t a good choice. Especially since I knew I should have been given at the very least a opportunity of another choice. So I guess it wasn’t the choice I was expecting. So I thought I was being punished, but I had no idea for what.
So I started my new job at the school. And I found that I was actually very good at it. It was very comfortable. More importantly I enjoyed it.
I had looked at it from the outside in and thought “I could never do that.” “I don’t think I could do that job as well as the people currently doing it“.
(My subconscious rushes me back 20 years ago when I was just graduating high school and at the 11th hour I thought I wasn’t cut out for teaching. I panicked then. I took a road that has led me here to where I am today, but I have done myself a huge disservice. It still stands as one of my biggest regrets. But I had the exact same thoughts then.)
So this time I start in a new job. I give it 110%. I listen. I watch. I learn. And quickly I realize this is where I belong. For now.
Probably for awhile. A long while.
The point was driven home yesterday when the team I work with flawlessly handled a life threatening situation. Flawlessly. It could have gone a hundred different ways, and not many of them good. But because of our quick thinking, communication, and ability to read each other and give each other what the other person needed in that moment, we saved someone’s life.
That was huge.
It was a sign. Earlier in the day, I had been offered an opportunity to go back into my preferred line of work. I turned it down. I’m not going to lie, I second guessed that decision for several hours afterward. Mostly because I wanted to go back into the classroom. I love working with the children. It was what I had hoped for all summer. And when I knew this opportunity was going to present itself, many people were telling me that I was right to be patient, that good things come to those who wait.
I realized that they were right. But not in the way they meant.
I’m right where I belong. And I love it.
Posted by Shash @ 8:27 pm
| | September 10, 2009
The alarm clocks awoke us both from our blissful slumber. As we came out to our daily meeting point, the sofa, we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes.
“Is it time yet?” he asked.
Nope, not yet, I replied.
We went about our morning tasks. Medicine taken, breakfast eaten, bodies dressed. The checking of the backpack to make sure he had everything he needed, but more importantly, that he knew where they could be located.
Teeth brushed, hair combed and then tousled so he had that ‘I just rolled out of bed’ look. Deodorant applied just in case he forgot. A quick glance in the mirror showed him he was ready.
Some downtime on his brother’s DS while the last few minutes clicked down to seconds. The familiar rumble of the bus outside. A hug, a quick kiss, a few “good luck!”‘s, “I love you!”‘s and “have a great day!’s” and then he dissappeared into the dark and a few moments later the bus rumbled away, it’s strobe light pulsing in time to the beat of my heart.
Yes, son, it’s time.
High school is going to be great.
I love you.
Posted by Shash @ 7:04 am
| | August 24, 2009
Because teenage angst is not only reserved for teenagers
Dear ex-friend of Spiff,
Yep, I saw you today. I saw you scowl at my son, like he had done something terrible to you instead of the other way around. He has been nothing but a good friend to you, worried about your happiness and just simply wanting to be your friend. You have said many mean things to him, and all he says is “Oh, she’s just grouchy today”. Or “moody”.
I’m sad. I’m disappointed. I don’t expect you to always be friends, but I was kind of hoping that he would have one friendly face in the crowd; one person that could be his touchstone while he figures out the new school, the new schedule, the new everything.
It’s not going to be you.
Okay. Just do me a favor, ok? Leave middle school in the past and let the others get to know him before you tell them how you feel about him. Give him a chance to meet other people and make some new friends so he will finally do what you clearly want him to: Leave you alone.
Besides, we didn’t want to sit next to you anyway. So there.
Posted by Shash @ 3:11 pm
| | August 13, 2009
This One Time, in the Summer, I Became a Pirate!
To read more about this exciting opportunity, click below for the full review!
The Crazed Mommy Reviews!
Posted by Shash @ 11:44 pm
| | August 9, 2009