Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pay No Attention to the Mother Behind the Blog


People in my "real life" and even some from online are apt to compliment me often on my parenting. They tell me what a great mom I am, what a great job I'm doing with Boo, how lucky he is to have me. At times, I've actually felt quite exasperated with his special ed team for telling me that I am already doing everything they would recommend, because that doesn't give me any new tools with which to work. It's nice to hear, but not practically helpful. I try to always accept such praises humbly and graciously but not to let it go to my head. But I am human, and apt to get a swelled ego at times. Especially when my efforts with Boo are particularly effective. When I am able to calm the tempest, solve the sensory puzzle, or impart understanding of a new concept I am liable to swell up a bit and pat myself on the back. But there is one small person with a big influence in my life who knows how to swiftly and effectively bring me off my high horse and put me in my place.

I have found myself sitting on the dining room floor bawling while Boo rages and writhes nearby, the popcorn strewn about that he spilled and refuses to help pick up seeming to mock me. I have found myself sitting on the bedroom floor while Boo sits naked beside me screaming, unwilling or unable to choose between the new swimming trunks with the drawstring he can't stand and a pair of regular shorts, but terrified that the friends waiting for him to join them in the backyard will give up and leave. I have found myself sitting in the living room bawling as Boo writhes in pain, refusing all attempts at comforting him, refusing to allow any of the things I assure him will alleviate the hurt. I have found myself sitting on the front porch bawling as he howls and screams in the front yard, giving the neighbors a dramatic display of what the ugly side of autism can sometimes look like. I have found myself sitting in the car in front of the local convenience store, my fifty pound five year old having a full-on tantrum in the back seat, then clambering into my lap and proceeding to beat me up and scream as though he were the one being attacked. I have watched the scornful, shocked, judgmental, and pitying glances from onlookers as I tried in vain to bring my child back to a state of self-control.



It is times like those when little Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals the faltering, stammering, feeble human behind the smoke and mirror show that was the Great and Powerful Oz. I feel like a fraud. Like a sham. Like I have no business writing this blog, or talking about autism as if I have any clue what the hell I'm doing. I feel stupid, ineffectual, impotent. I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time. It's all by the seat of my pants. I try to make it all look good on the outside, but on the inside I constantly feel like I'm screwing it all up. I don't understand him. I don't know what he needs. I don't understand how he feels. I can't even get him to do something so simple as to pick up some flipping popcorn he spilled on the floor. I feel like I'm failing my boy. My cherished, wonderful, beautiful little boy, to whom I would give anything in this world that could help him mitigate these challenges, if only I had it to give.




When he begs me to help him "figure out what to do" I ache inside, wishing I had the power he believes I do. And all I can do is hope, pray, and believe that all the tools he needs to help him successfully navigate this world are things he already possesses. I hope that, like the Wizard, I can help him find and use the tools he already has, and show him how to get where he wants to go.

14 comments:

  1. I am with you. I sometimes wonder what people are seeing when they say I doing so well with Monkey, when I feel so incompetent and helpless. I know that self doubt is normal for any mom, but with our kids, we never want to be weak, be vulnerable, be flawed, because we want to always be the best possible mother for child who needs a little (or a lot) more than the "average" kid. We do the best we can. We just have to remember that we are doing everything we can. So long as we don't give in to the temptation to just give up, we are awesome, no fakin'. ;)

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    1. I just tend to feel like the guy on SNL..."FIX IT!!!" I don't know how, I don't know what...just FIX IT!

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  2. You just described how I feel every day. My daughter "T" was diagnosed just weeks ago, and the relief at knowing she was autistic has crumbled to the realization that I don't know what the hell I'm doing. But I get up every morning and I try my best. That's all you can do -- try your best with the resources, the energy, the hope you have. And then you get up the next day and do it again. If I knew you in "real life" I'd give you a hug. Since I don't, I'll just say that your love for Boo shines through in every word of this blog, and that is the thing he needs most.

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    1. Oh how well I remember those feelings right after diagnosis! The vindication of all the nagging worries you've had for so long and the relief of putting a name on the nameless something juxtaposed with the sadness of knowing that the something is an inborn life-long condition. We'd really rather be told that what we see is the result of bad parenting, because that is at least something that can be "fixed."

      Welcome to the community, Angie. If I knew you in real life I would gladly accept and return that hug. If you ever need a virtual shoulder, I'm glad to offer mine.

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  3. Just found your blog and wanted to say hello - I am with you there. There are times that I feel like a fraud myself, and my daughter has been diagnosed only a month.

    AngieP - you're a newbie too - do you have a blog?

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    1. Hello there. Hope you stick around. It's sure to be an interesting ride! How old is your daughter?

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  4. I, too, can relate! Thank you for being so honest about those not-so-pretty moments. I think we've all had our fair share! We just have to hang on and continue to try our best. And pray. A lot!

    -Angela (aka Caffeinated Autism Mom)
    www.caffeinatedautismmom.com

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    1. As a blogger, I tend to feel like I'm walking a tight rope between sensationalizing the bad and making autism a scary thing, and glossing over the bad and failing to be honest about the hurdles Boo has to clear.

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  5. I think people sensationalize parenting a disabled child, with the idea that we are all some kind of saints, and that is unfair to us and to our children. Don't be too hard on yourself, or hold your Motherhood up to a unrealistic idealization. You are allowed to make mistakes, you are allowed to learn through trial and error, you are allowed to have frustrating days, just like every other Mother. We are just raising human beings, and we are only human ourselves.

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    1. It's not that I'm hard on myself necessarily. I'm just trying to be real. I don't want to paint such a rosy picture that people dismiss the very real challenges that Boo faces. Because this blog is really about him more than it is about me. We had several very tough days in a row and I wanted to be real about what was going on. I'm not kicking myself today. I'm just doing laundry and paying bills. ;)

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