If movies and television are to be believed, it would appear most of us who have children with challenges spend their days trying to find a cure, putting that cure—whatever it is—into practice and generally being unselfish and saint-like. Interviews of Celebrity Moms from The View to Ellen prove those truths. In the media, Celebrity Moms leave no stone unturned looking for a cure or an answer, look great, write books about said cure and have their nannies to help them—doesn’t everyone? It’s an unrealistic view and it doesn’t help anyone in the real world. And in that real world—the world in which you and I live —no one could spend that much time doing what is purported they do without having scads of help.
When Our Kiddo was a young child, most of my days were taken up with ordinary things—islands of busyness with his autism of course—but those day-to-day things which make a life. When The Middle Boy and The Youngest arrived, I had more of them. While taking him to physicians, I still had diapers to change, laundry to do and bills to pay. When he was in pre-school, I did my grocery shopping or wrote my Christmas cards and then picked him up. I did research about childhood development while he took afternoon naps or cooked something for dinner, depending of course, if I had had time to go to the library in those days before the internet. I read in bed or when the kids were playing in the park. I took recycling to the recycling place when I took Kiddo to swimming class. Like moms everywhere, I was a champion multi-task-er.
We can all bustle about but the truth is we are probably not as obsessed as you would think because we can’t be. It takes energy to raise a child with autism as it does any child and we have to pace ourselves. Many young parents of kids with autism feel guilty because they are not able to put in the time they think they should. There is a panicky feeling when you can’t seem to do everything you think you should be doing and I certainly understand. We are only human, after all, and only someone with superhuman stamina can live up to the expectations others have about what we should be doing. We can grouse about having to do laundry or any of the sundry tasks life makes you do when you have children—disabled or not–and a home and a family. I certainly remember being unhappy having to do chores when I could be doing something to help Our Kiddo….but, someone has to do towels.
There is a mood now of how serious autism is. We must be serious and single minded and self-sacrificing or must not understand the gravity of it. How can you get your oil changed or go to the dentist…your child has autism! Autism is “trendy” now and I have come upon many young parents resentful of me, of our family, of our choices because they don’t think we did enough. By that I mean, they think things should be easier for them now because we paved the way. Our Kiddo should have been cured and research should have been in place so their child didn’t ever have to have autism. We did pave the way, things are better and autism is more in the news by what we did, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. They wanted us to do more. What they fail to realize is they are in the same place we were 30 or so years ago, having to advocate for our child as well as raise him!
Our Kiddo isn’t cured but we have a good life—an ordinary life–in spite of his autism. What more do people want?
Autism awareness month is every month at our house!