Billie Holiday lied. It’s summertime, and the livin’ ain’t anywhere near easy.
On those days, when you really don’t care why your child is crying, you just want them to stop, please be gentle with yourself. You are already empty. Throwing some sludge of guilt and shame into the well isn’t going to fill it up with anything helpful. Be gentle. Take it as a sign that you need some time. Time to refresh. Time to be quiet. Time to fill yourself up again.
In many parenting circles and professional mental health circles, we’ve been encouraged to let our kids be bored and frustrated and disappointed. And I totally agree. That’s where the magic happens. But, being raised up in this culture that permeates an ethos of feel-good-avoid-bad mentality and has encouraged bubble wrapping our children’s “fragile” little feelings and souls, I still find myself being pulled in to rescue my children.
Deep down inside, my more spiritually mature self, is grateful for autism. I am grateful for my growth. I am grateful for it highlighting all of my weaknesses and limitations. I am grateful for it smashing those threads of perfectionism that were still whispering in my ear. Has it been fun? Ha! Absolutely not! Do I wish there were an easier way? Only five hundred thirty-two thousand times a day. But, here’s my list of what autism has done for me:
I know that some days, maybe most days, you feel ill-equipped to parent any child, let alone a higher needs child. I know that some days, maybe most days, you feel drained, battered, bruised and you fear how closely you’ve come to completely losing it with your children because of this. I know that your brain whispers fallacies and the gut-wrenching lie that you are an awful parent.
And it is in those moments when doctors or neighbors or friends try to relate to the “hardness” of parenting, that the true difference of parenting a differently wired child feels so much more isolating. Parenting is hard. Parenting the “easy” child is difficult. Parenting the fringy child is unyielding.
My main goal in parenting differently wired children is that they grow up to accept their differences while knowing that the differences don’t make them better or worse than anyone else. The fact that she can so nonchalantly ask me to share this information with her coaches, tells me that we’re accomplishing our goal. I know we still have a lot of child-rearing years ahead of us, but here’s how we’ve gotten to where we are.