She’s Mine, My Daughter with Autism

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So I have this little girl, she’s mine. She’s wacky and wild. She’s vivacious and bold. She lives it up. She’s absolutely beautiful and when she speaks it’s the cutest thing I may have ever heard (aside from my other children speaking when they were little). She’s perfection in so many ways, a true miracle and part of an amazing story that is yet to be written.

She’s all these wonderful things and she is the most terrifying and challenging thing I have ever dealt with.

She came from the womb of a very young woman who came extremely close to ending her life through abortion. She was fed drugs and alcohol as she grew in this woman’s belly. And she was given to my husband and his late wife upon her birth. She was born with autism and a miraculous little brain that does not process things the way most brains do. Three years later and she came into my world with joy and beauty and an energy that cannot be contained. She calls me mommy and I am her mommy.

She has severe autism, is verbal and has a light about her that you’ve never seen before. She wants to hug everyone…and I really do mean everyone. She wants at least three hugs from me before she goes to bed. She also wants to grab every single thing that looks like it might be the least bit interesting…which is pretty much 95% of all the things in the world. She would wander far away in public, well more likely run away, if not self-contained in a shopping cart while running errands. She’s heavy now and getting heavier every day. She kicks me innumerable times a day while I change her clothes and diapers. She hates to have her hair brushed or touched which is a problem of almost epic proportions for both her and me. She has more energy than any child I have ever laid eyes on. She is 5 yet nowhere near potty-trained. (This not uncommon in children with severe autism.)

She screams and shrieks any chance she gets, for good and bad. She giggles with the ferocity of a child gone mad and then she giggles with the tenderness of a small child, too. She runs away from me at every chance she gets. She is satisfied with an activity for 5 minutes at a time maximum. She sees the fun and joy in the smallest of things and makes toys out of candy wrappers and rubber bands like nobody’s business. She loves to shake things, which includes un-inflated balloons, doorknobs, tags, bags, cups, bowls with tiny things in them, anything that can be shaken, she’ll shake it. She also likes to get jello legs when she doesn’t want to do something which means that mommy has to pick her up or pull her along in a very non-graceful fashion. When she wants something she wants it NOW. She has little to no ability to wait. She also loves music, to sing and to be sung to… and to dance. She has amazing rhythm. She also slams doors and opens them, a lot. She’s particularly fond of turning lights on and off while you are in the bathroom, too. This can be a challenge at a time when most people would like to make sure they see what they are doing. And how she loves baths and the pool and could play in and with water for days on end. She’s been asking about summer since September.

She’s mine. I need to be a good mommy to her as well as the other 4 children in our home. I really need to be a superhero. I need 8 arms and elasticity like Elastigirl in The Incredibles. (Remember her, she’s like the best mom ever!) I need permanent earplugs implanted. I need strong arms and legs and a back that never hurts. I definitely need to be taller because putting her in a shopping cart is a big chore, if she fits, when you’re a short mommy. I need patience, an endless supply of patience intravenously infused would be nice. I need help. I need for my soft heart to not be hardened and to be not too soft, too.

She’s mine and I love her to the ends of the earth. I can tell I do when she is sick or hurt and mommy mode kicks into full gear. I can tell I do when I talk to her about nothing or something for the 100th time in a row. I can tell I do when I bathe her and clothe her and get her something she is obsessed with for the 20th time that day. I can tell I do when I sing her 50 children’s songs while waiting for the bus. I can tell I do because I die a little when she says she loves me or lays her head on my shoulder. I can tell I do because I can tell you that she’s mine.

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How to Determine if You’re a Bad Mom in 3 Simple Steps

So I have this struggle…ha, that’s a lie, I have a lot of struggles. But a big one is feeling like I’m a bad mom. Perhaps it’s a side effect of depression, a genetic predisposition or a lack of confidence…all of which could really be the case, but what it comes down to is trying to figure out if I really am a bad mom. If I could disprove that theory, then maybe, just maybe I could believe that I’m not a horrible mother and that I am doing something right, maybe not perfect, but not bad.

This may take a little audience participation, which could prove difficult since I have a following of like 10 (at best) on this blog (in all fairness, it is brand new), but hopefully somehow someone will read this, help me find the truth and perhaps find the truth for themselves if they ever have any of this same type of worry. Although, I seriously doubt any other mother ever feels like she is not good enough, right? That’s ridiculous.

1. Define a “good mom”. (Be realistic and honest. For example: being a good mom does not equal making every birthday party or celebration a Pinterest worthy one. We’re talking basics.)

My thoughts on this: she feeds her children, clothes them, provides them shelter and provides healthcare when needed (unless of course this is truly not possible then this does not make her a bad mom, I do not think a mom who is living in poverty is a bad mom simply because she is living in poverty). She also works to meet her children’s educational, spiritual and emotional needs as best as she is able. Plus, she loves her children…you know, like love in action and love in emotion. She gives them affection. She gives them attention. She does the best she can.

2. Evaluate yourself against the above definition.

Okay, I do these things, but not perfectly all the time. I sometimes get fast food for their dinners. I sometimes (more often than I would like to admit) don’t give them as much attention as they might enjoy. They do have shelter. They have clothes. I get them to and from school and extra-curricular activities. I even attend said extra-curricular activities when applicable and possible. I try to address all emotional needs and involve extra input (therapist, counselors, role models, etc) when possible, but I haven’t done this perfectly. Like the time my son went to therapy and his father (my ex-husband) sabotaged the whole thing so the therapist disowned us (really) and then his father said he would not ever and I could not ever take him back to therapy of any kind. UGH. On to the next thing… I do try to meet my children’s spiritual needs (introduce them to faith, etc.), but I don’t do that perfectly either. I do love my children, I really do. I give them hugs and kisses (even if they get wiped off) and I tell them I’m proud of them and remind them that they are loved. But again, I don’t do any of this perfectly. Oh, that last thing in the definition above…”she does the best that she can“… okay, okay, yes, I do the best that I can, even if my best some days is someone else’s worst .

3. Come to  your conclusion.

My thoughts: I’ve got room for improvement, but by my definition above, I am not a bad mom. This is a serious relief. I don’t want to be a bad mom, I want to be a good mom and an even better one tomorrow than I am today. I want to be proud of the mom that I am and I don’t want to have any more regret.

Here’s where the audience participation comes in and is really important. I need to check myself because if I’m truly not a bad mom, I need a little validation. Tell me, what’s your definition of a good mom? Do you ever feel like you’re not a very good one? Do you think my evaluation is accurate? Spill it, okay? ‘Cause this mama needs to know.

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This photo came from The House of Hendrix blog and I couldn’t resist sharing with you here, because maybe, even in my imperfection I am actually a good mom and maybe you are, too. And if you don’t worry about it…well…maybe you aren’t? 😉

 

P.S. I’m participating in the #ManicMondays linky via RockinRandomMom and the #abitofeverything linky via The Anxious Dragon. Check them out!

RockinRandomMom
A Bit Of Everything

Just a Mommy Muddling

Decide

 

I’m thinking it’s probably about time I get back to something…something that more resembles me, the person I lost a few months ago…again. I’m a mommy muddling my way through life with lots of ups and downs…like the bipolar II kind and the major depression kind and the fibromyalgia kind and the anxiety kind, to name a few. I muddle through things like sickness (my own and others) and taking care of several children that range from small to big (a couple of which are on the autism spectrum and all of which are unique and wonderful in their own difficult and also fabulous ways). I do this with my unbelievably patient and loving husband by my side. Despite that, I often feel alone and my muddling is sometimes struggling instead.

But here I am, ready to do something for me. I need a space to muddle around and say what I really feel, what I really want to say and what I need to say but sometimes can’t. I’m an anonymous mommy right now, because some of the truth and irrational thoughts and real-life stuff I’m gonna say may not be something I want to share or to be shared with my immediate family or friends. I want that freedom right now.

So, it’s time. It’s time I do some things for me so that I can be a better, healthier me and I can eventually be a me that I’ll be proud of again, and maybe others will too.