I, like a lot of people in my specific sub-generation, feel like a fraud. We use terms like "adulting", for crying out loud!! Why? Because, to us, it's something we do on occasion... not something we are. We are mostly in our late twenties and early thirties. A time when our own parents had it together, or appeared to in our eyes. People may claim that they had less stress, less attention focused on their flaws (see: Facebook), and less political/economic problems. Just less. I now see that might not have been the case though it was certainly different.
How does all all that relate to Autism? Well, it all goes back to that feeling of being a fraud. I have three kids. Two girls and a boy. My oldest has severe dyslexia. A learning difference I defend daily, but I've never had a problem communicating with her. In fact, most days I just smile and nod as she tells me yet another story about dance class because she's talking 900 mph. Her brain is in overdrive and it's hard to keep up, but I do my best because her stories are a work of art. I love them. I felt, and still feel, like I was destined to be her Mommy. I have gone to bat for her and her learning difference since she walked into the public school system. I am uniquely qualified. I have two siblings with dyslexia. I knew the signs and the struggles. I was ready, day 1, when I saw it. It's been rough, but not impossible.
Then my second child came along and she is completely opposite from her sister. She is quiet and shy. Not in a way that worried me or was stunting her social or educational growth. Just quiet. I have to ask her specific questions to get her going, but once I do she lights up like a Christmas tree. She loves to draw and if you can start her talking about that you'll never get another moment's peace. I love it. Now, it's taken me more time and patience to relate to her as she's gotten older because I know nothing about drawing and can't do it to save my life, but we make it work. Besides, I always know what to get her for birthdays and holidays. It's fantastic! Again, as a Mom, I felt prepared and ready to tackle anything with her too. In a million other areas of my life I feel like a fraud, but as a Mom I've always kinda felt like a bada**.
Then, three years ago I had a gorgeous little boy with bright blue eyes. He was (and is) the perfect addition to my little family. By this time, I knew what I was doing from the start. I needed almost zero help from the nursing staff in the hospital and was referred to as the "rock star" on the labor & delivery floor. Yep, I got a big head. Not gonna lie.
So, I said all that to say this: Autism stole my rock star Mommy status and I'm sad. It took me longer than necessary to even admit there might be a problem because I knew absolutely nothing about it. I had never dealt with it directly and, therefore, seriously knew zero signs. That's why entire months about bringing awareness to it are not only important, they are vital! For people like me who were convinced my own son simply progressed at a different rate. While that's very true this was not that. I know milestones are basically crap (in most aspects) and kids do really hit them when they're ready. However, there are certain communication and behavior issues that shouldn't and can't be ignored, even by the most reluctant parent like myself.
Now, this post was brought on by a typical meltdown. Typical for me. Typical for my son. Not typical for a "normal" 3 year old though. At the end of it I realized how much like a fraud I feel because of this. I can't communicate with my wonderful little man. Especially when he's hurting. It's painful to witness and I hate it. When my girls get hurt they immediately look for me, run over for a kiss and a hug, and then leave again to go play or generally be too-cool-for-school pre-teen girls. My son, however, quite literally pushes me away. He won't let me kiss and hug his tiny tears away. He can't even tell me what happened to make him cry in the first place. Usually it's because something scared or upset him and not because he's physically hurt, but that doesn't make it any easier to watch. I can't fix it. That's my job and I can't do it because I don't know what bothered him. I realize as frustrating, scary, and overwhelming it is for me it's 1,000x more so for him. I do get that. My feeling like a fraud in no way compares to how he feels at all. I get that too. Don't think for one second I don't, but I'm his Mommy and I want to help. I want to fix it. That's an insatiable need I have deep in my core. I wish I could end this post on a happy note, but I can't right now. Yes, he does talk sometimes. He even has 1-10 down. It makes me incredibly happy to hear anything at all. Some parents don't even get to have that. I'm told I'm lucky, but I don't feel that way. I don't know what scares him, what makes him excited, what he loves or hates. I can't talk to him. He's not potty-trained when all the other kids are transitioning out of diapers. All mild inconveniences, according to most people, but to me it feels much different.
While he's not crying anymore and he's sat here quietly eating a waffle the whole time I made this post I hate that silence. I want to hear his little voice tell me he loves me. Maybe one day. So, these months are crucial... for people like me.