Dear New Autism Mama,
Dear New Autism Mama,
You’ve never met me, but I think we might know each other a little. If you come sit next to me for a bit, you’ll find we have something in common.
You see, I’ve been there.
It probably started with a funny feeling. I know that feeling. It almost feels like a little flip of your tummy. That odd feeling leads to questions that you’re not quite ready to ask out loud just yet. And you worry if you give a voice to your fears, they might become real.
When you finally found the courage to release those fears you once guarded and protected, you might have found they were disregarded, belittled even. You might have been told you’re overreacting. You might have heard you’re paranoid. Attention-seeking. He’ll outgrow it. He just needs discipline. We’ve heard it all, haven’t we?
Then you probably entered No Man’s Land. That frustratingly long time between the first tug on your mommy’s instinct until you have an answer. For me, this was the worst part. You now know you’re a part of something different, but you’re not completely sure just what it might be. You do a lot of soul-searching. You do a lot of research. You consume every book and article you can get your hands on. You begin to see your sweet baby in a new light. No, he hasn’t changed. But his whole life will flash before your eyes. You’ll begin to get acquainted with the idea. You’ll want to reach out to people who get it. You’ll want to hear their stories and tell yours. But you won’t have an exact answer yet. You might feel like you need a membership card that you haven’t been given yet.
Then Diagnosis Day came. You finally had your answer. And no matter how familiar you got with the idea, no matter how much soul-searching and acceptance might have happened, you probably still felt sad. And that’s okay. Whatever you felt was okay. It was yours to feel. I’ve been there. I know.
Sometimes, after an autism diagnosis, you will feel lonely even (especially?) in the most crowded places. I saw you guys at a playdate. You were off to the side with your sweet boy while the others ran and played. I heard the moms encourage you to join the fun. And I cried. Because I have been there. I remember that feeling.
You are not alone. Click To Tweet
You will find some friendships become stronger and some bonds are tried and proven. Sadly, some friends will fade away to the background of your life. It will hurt at first, but eventually, you’ll find it’s okay.
I hope you’ve found your community. There is an amazing support system online. This is one example of the internet being a miracle. I don’t know what I would have done without the connections I’ve made to my fellow autism moms.
You will have good days and you will have bad days. There will be days when you feel like Supermom. There will also be days when you feel like autism has taken you out behind the woodshed and kicked your butt.
You will begin to have requests come in. So many different groups (wonderful groups) will want you to add your support to their fundraising event or their awareness campaign. Give yourself permission to say no. You can’t do it all. Do not feel guilty about saying no. You’re human.
At the end of the day, it’s about your family. It’s about those little moments that most take for granted. They will become awesome reasons for celebration. And we will celebrate with you. Because that’s just how our community is.
Even though we’ve never met, we’re not strangers. Because at your core, you’re a mom. An autism mom. And we stick together and we look out for each other. Because we get it.
We. Get. It.
We welcome you with open arms. And a glass of wine. Or two.
Ashley, your fellow autism mom
You can read more from Ashley on her site, Turning Pages