learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: parenting

Ma’s Babbling Again

There is this weird line to tread, as a caregiver.

You see, as Jess at A Diary of a Mom often and rightfully notes, our desire to share cannot ever trump our loved one’s right to dignity, respect and privacy.

Yet I come here, regularly enough, to share our journey with those of you who might read it. It’s a very hard line to toe.

I try to decide on what to write or share by looking at whether or not I would be comfortable with it being in the local large newspaper. I look at it from J’s point of view, trying to decide what might be hurtful or embarrassing to him when he might read this as he gets older. I want this place to always remain a safe space for him, even when there’s hard topics written about, and above all I always want him to know that everything here is written with love and care.

Parts of me are still trying to learn what it is to be the mother to a child who has autism and what  my responsibilities to him are as such. The protective instincts a parent has are compounded in my by my own anxiety disorder. The idea of him hurt, or being hurt, is a massive trigger to my PTSD. Rock, meet hard place, right? Yet, each day it gets better. How does it get better?

Because he teaches me. And oh, does he teach me.

I am learning, through lessons taught in minute gestures or loud screams, what it is my son is and is not ready for or capable of. What is he capable of? Anything he well pleases in his own time, in his own way. This is important. I cannot hold him to the standards of black and white rule books. He will not be a textbook child and this is not a thing to be hurt by or upset about but to rejoice in. He will do every conventional thing he wants and he will likely do it all in unconventional ways.

I am so down for that. I am so eager for that.

And all of this that I never thought I could handle; the parent I never thought I could be has always been there, just waiting for this moment. It is all thanks to not the parents who wronged me but the people who came into my life and did right. Each one has given me at least one if not many of the tools I need to be there for my son, to be the grown up he needs and to be ready for the highs and lows of his unique journey.  I know not everyone believes in God, and that’s alright, but I do. There’s something to this divine plan stuff, and He must have been planning a long time for this little boy. He has something special to give the world, and I just hope in sharing his story I am doing right by him and right by those with whom we share it.


So this whole post isn’t weird and sappy, a J milestone:

Last night, J sat on the floor playing with his little airplane. He flew it around, the way you expect kids to do and in the way he rarely has before. Moments later, he was doing the same… with his toy tractor.

Fly on, toy tractor. Fly on. I love seeing his imagination juuust starting to peek through. It’s a beautiful place, his mind. A beautiful place indeed.

Fitting In

I belong to a couple of general parenting groups on the ol’ interwebs and I am increasingly struggling with how to relate to them.

In a lot of regards, J is just a kid. He has a lot of the aspects of a typical 3-year-old and I do try to maintain a childhood for him that is not that unlike his peers, be they neurotypical or not. But playtime is where similarities seem to end. Heck, playtime isn’t even all that similar sometimes. It’s like there is a constant reminder that our life is different and I more so than he have a hard time relating to the world around me.

Part of it seems to be that when I watch other children his age, the differences are starting to be stark. The way they chatter, the interactions they have, etc. are all so contrasting to what J has. This is when the doubt creeps in. You question yourself and your parenting when in fact you already know the truth of the matter: Your child just operates differently. It’s not a dark mark against either of you, it’s just how it is.

The human mind is a devil though and loves to grind down on raw emotions to make you doubt yourself doesn’t it.

I don’t know how to reach out to other parents with advice or commiseration. In the back of my  head as I type or say something all I can feel is that “well, how can my experience apply because my child is special needs and theirs isn’t.” Crap way to think, right? Autism does not invalidate our experiences nor does it invalidate theirs. I’m scared of saying “oh, my boy did that too!” because I do not want to make another mother or father feel like they might be headed down our road when in fact we’re just talking about typical kid things, like fighting sleep or throwing food as young children (and grown children, let’s be honest) do.

It’s like I have to try to stand in two worlds, a world that is heavily entrenched in learning about and working with autism and another world where it doesn’t really exist, everyone is just exactly or close to exactly on a more typical track. The balance feels painful, for if I veer too far one way I definitely feel I am being untrue to my boy and yet, I feel cocooned staying too deeply entrenched in the world of special needs parenting.

What a weird mental place, right?

But this is where I am some days, this morning having been another mild encounter with it. When I think about if I would change anything though, I can’t say I would. It’s like when people ask if I would change my past… Why’d I throw away what I have now on a would have, should have, could have? This is the cost of doing business so to speak, and it is part of having J in my life. Since I would change him for nothing, even on the days I threaten to sell  him to the first person with a nickel and a bag to put him in, then I guess I shouldn’t really be too hung up on the little stuff like this.

I’ll still get hung up, because that’s how I operate, but the effort is there to try not to. I imagine there’s a few people out there who will have snarky commentary for me about that but eh. People like that need to look at themselves, first, instead of trying to change everyone around them to conform to their desires.

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