The other night I was talking with another mom. We were discussing the “early” years with Sean.
What a trip down memory lane! Not one that I wanted to take but necessary all the same. Now that he’s 14 years old and mainstreamed it’s important that I don’t forget those times.
Then again, how could I?
It was hard…so, so hard. And it wasn’t just one moment or one day or one year. It was years and years.
Sometimes I still think it’s hard but talking with that mom… today is a cakewalk compared to back then.
When I say it was difficult I’m not necessarily talking about dealing with Sean. Sure, the three-hour long tantrums were daily or more than daily. I remember the scrapes and the bruises…the broken mirror still exists.
I remember how I couldn’t touch him or else he’d swat at me or the hours we’d spend in silence because it was too much for him to hear our voices.
But all of that wasn’t what had me sitting at the kitchen table every day and crying.
It was the schools…the “professionals” who knew better…and all those people who had an opinion and just had to let me know it – especially if it was negative.
How many times have you been told that you needed to be a better parent?
Is there a parent of an autistic child out there who hasn’t been told that? Is there??
I doubt it.
I went through a hell that was undeserved, unwarranted and almost killed me.
It took a long time to get Sean diagnosed. It wasn’t because I was in denial or anything. Oh, I knew. For a very long time I knew.
It was everybody else I had to convince.
You can ask for evaluations and they “fall through the cracks.”
You can visit psychologists and they will tell you that they can cure your child in 3 or 4 visits…. I just need to discipline Sean more.
Or you hear from friends that if only I had socialized Sean more…taken him to restaurants or hauled him all over the place… that he wouldn’t be like he is.
You can ask for letters to give to the hospital regarding your son’s behaviour and then find out that the person ripped you and your parenting skills apart in them.
And then, of course, are the people who blamed me for using fertility treatments when “God intended me to be infertile.”
It was always my fault.
I had one professional tell me that Sean manipulated me…that I spent too much time with him.
They told me to put him in daycare and get a job.
Who they hell are they??? Seriously?
But they get to you. The comments get to you.
You’ve been a bad parent and now look what you’ve done to your child.
They eat away at your soul, your spirit.
And you just want to die.
That’s what kept me at the kitchen table all those days. I’d sit there all day…paralyzed…staring out the patio doors with tears streaming down my face.
And I’d wonder…
Would Sean be better off without me?
I could never leave him. No….
The only way I’d leave my son was to kill myself.
You read that right.
You get beaten down by the people around you…family, friends, the “professionals”… and you get to that dark place and you don’t know how to get out of it.
So yes, it got that bad. It was that hard.
And it had nothing to do with Sean’s autism.
It had nothing to do with the meltdowns, the doctors, all the what-ifs of autism and had everything to do with the assholes in life.
That’s what they are…Assholes.
Eventually you realize that.
I realized that.
And they didn’t know better.
I was Sean’s mom. I didn’t cause his autism. It wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t going to let the world blame me anymore.
And you know what?
I’m a damn good parent.
So screw them.
I eventually stopped crying and got up from my kitchen table. I stopped letting them get to me and I started fighting back.
And I found my voice.
Thank God I found my voice.
So if you get to that point where I was and you feel that “alone” that is so scary to feel, then I’m here to tell you that you’re not.
Our kids may be on opposite ends of the spectrum. Our lives may be vastly different. But the frustration, the anger, and the guilt… it’s all the same.
While some may not admit it… I will.
I’ve been there.
And that’s why I write.