Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Stop Combating People

on March 13, 2014

Photo 26Before I had children and early in the parenting journey, I thought it was my job to mold my children into kind, intelligent, and self-sufficient beings. That they would speak properly, have good table manners, be polite, and do well at school was presumed, a baseline. These were my assumptions before autism rocked my world, before one child was diagnosed autistic, before I realized the other two were anything by typical. Diagnosis and confusing-to-me behaviors did not immediately change my perception. I simply resolved to work harder to mold my children into the kind, polite, intelligent, and self-sufficient beings they were supposed to be.

I ALWAYS loved my children. I always strove to be the mother they needed. I did my best to be patient and supportive. But I did believe that it was my job to make them be/act/appear as normal as possible. For me, normal meant following the rules of society, exercising self-control, learning, and growing. I did not believe my goals for them were harmful. I believed it was my mother-duty to raise children who fit in, because that’s what my life experiences had taught me was correct.

As time went on, my understanding shifted. I watched my children. I embraced what made them smile and rejected that which caused them pain. I read amazing books that revealed a new way to look beyond the face value of “behaviors” and “traits.” I discovered something wonderful where others saw misbehavior and dysfunction.

Finally, c. 2008, I wrote this in my journal:

Last week I had an Ah-ha! moment. I realized I need to stop trying to fix my children. I love them with all of their sometimes challenging traits — but I have, for a long time, been on a mission to minimize those quirks. For now, I need to let them be — as important for me as for them.

A short while later, I picked up a book in which the first chapter was titled “The World Needs Autism.” Reading these words was affirmation of my realization.

A later journal entry: I have long known that there is a purpose for autism. I am slowly muddling through what that purpose is. I believe that everything is evolving perfectly and the purpose is being served — even if I don’t understand it.

It took me a long time to get here. (I tell the story of my parenting journey, and those of many other mothers, in Swan Mothers.) I still get plenty of opportunity to practice. Many resources that are available today, specifically, blogs written by autistic adults, were not available when I started this journey, so I continue to uncover new layers of understanding. I still want my children to be kind, polite, intelligent, and self-sufficiency beings, but I want them to be these things while being fully themselves.

Don’t go changing, to try & please me
You never let me down…
I couldn’t love you any better
I love you just the way you are
(with apologies to Billy Joel)

stopcombatingme8This post is my contribution to the #StopCombatingMe Flashblog

What is it?

A flashblog is a day when a group of people share their thoughts about a single topic.

Why?

To tell Congress to reform the Combating Autism Act or to let it expire.  Sign the petition and learn more here: http://action.autisticadvocacy.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10412

Why Reform the Act?

My friend S.R. Salas explains that here.

 

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