Finding Stars in the Dark Series: Part I

So here I sit. Typing up the first in this series. This one is really taking autism and me to a head on collision course. I love Emelie but I don’t always love her autism. I wouldn’t and won’t change her for the world but I will give her the tools to become who she is. Please remember when you are reading this post, this was written on one of those days when you feel like you are drowning. All of these in this series were.

Sigh. Somedays I’m completely in awe of who daughter is and has become.  I’m so proud of how far she has come and grown in respects to maturity and individuality. But as a mom, there are fleeting moments that will creep in and make you pause. It’s those moments that you live in the shadow of “why her” knowing you still love her as she is and want her to be true to herself but feel that momentary pain of comparison that you fight to avoid doing as she is her own person.

Once Middle and High School happens, and those times they want to go and hang out with peers to feel included, it’s hard to NOT compare them to their peers. It becomes so obvious when she struggles with social cues and fit in when she stands out. It should be a good thing but she seems so very overwhelmed in some ways and in others she seems so “young” compared to her peers socially. And I know that she is behind and it’s areas we work on. It’ll come to her when she’s ready. In her time.

Socially she still has a way to go. I have to accept that. I hurt for her when I see her struggling to read body language or gets hurt because she doesn’t understand that sometimes she thinks things are going one direction and in reality they are headed metaphorically another direction. Or hurt more when she has to choose between being with a “friend” (outside or her comfort zone) or watching from the “sidelines”.

I hurt for her when she gets frustrated when she can’t focus or understand her peers interests. When she pushes so hard to engage someone even in areas that she has no interest in just so she can say she spent time with a “friend” but her “friends” don’t return that same courtesy. And there are days when you can see she’s living in a land of confusion.

As her mother, I try to navigate these waters with her and guide her as best as I can. We do. Her parents are here and sometimes we feel like we are in this land of confusion too. Yet, she’s at the age where she is exercising her rights to independence. She gets irritated (extremely irritated) if we initiate obvious guidance and assistance.

So there are days, weeks and months even that we watch her falter and flounder feeling helpless. We have to wait for her to either hit a crisis, crossroads or moment where she knows she needs some help and reaches out for it. No matter how much we want to rush in and be the heroes for her, we are sidelined and benched until she chooses to put us in the game.

It’s tough. it’s emotionally and mentally draining. It’s no wonder that when I have a rare opportunity to take a nap, what I expect to take is a very short cat nap and it often will turn into an all day event. Those blankets and beds were comfortable and inviting. Afterwards though, I look at my list of things I want to accomplish for the day and start to feel guilty.

Don’t misunderstand this post please. I love Emelie AS SHE IS. I’m proud of the young lady she is becoming. I’m thrilled at the progress she has made and make no mistakes, it’s all her. I’m aware that she will go as far as she can. She will soar. She will fly. That doesn’t however mean that she won’t falter or struggle. She will. She will also mature at her own rate. I accept that. I accept her as she is. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get sad for a brief moment until I can regroup.

It’s that once in a while it hits me. These are those days and times that I NEED to regroup. That I seek out support and understanding from others who’ve walked in my shoes. These are the times I got to my fellow autism mommies and the reassure me that this is “normal”. Just like they come to me when they need that same reassurance. It’s OUR normal. It’s all subjective.

Sometimes, it just gets to be too much and you must have that good ugly soul cleansing cry and cry yourself out. That and looking up for some hope. No matter how dark it is, there are always points of hope, stars of hope in that sky. It may be cloudy as heck and hard to see, but they are there. I’m getting really good at the crying and looking part. I know in the end though, it’s going to be OK.


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