Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My Thursday Task- Fear & Misconception

I'm not really divulging any deep dark secrets that I haven't already admitted to. I'm on another blogging assignment. I'm supposed to describe a moment when I felt afraid or describe a common misconception about myself. I think that if I describe my moment, it will prove to you all that I'm not what you think I am, so I will fulfill both obligations in this assignment.

I can remember a moment so clearly in my mind's eye. Summer of 2005. I was driving on Durham 57, headed towards Tim Horton's for my daily dose of caffeine. I had just left Owen and Will with my grandmother at the house, I think Jake was out somewhere with my mom. I remember how blue the sky was, no clouds. Everything around me was vividly green. Every reason to feel optimistic and happy. A song came on the radio, I can't even tell you what it was but I remember hearing a really melancholy note and as I pulled up to the red light to come to a stop, I felt my air get thinner in my lungs. Like a vice grip was squeezing my chest tighter and tighter and I started to panic. My breathing came in gulps and my eyes filled with tears. I remember pulling into the parking lot at Timmy's and sitting in my car, wondering how I got there because I could only see black. It's like a dark cloud had just settled over all that was bright blue and green and bright. I'm sure I sobbed for at least 20 minutes. It was as if the boys' diagnosis of autism had just hit me for the first time.

I think all the crying I had done before this day was from the shock of knowing that our lives had taken a dramatic turn in a whole new direction. But this day, I cried for my boys. I think it was the first time that I couldn't control my thoughts. I was in Owen's head. Imagining his future. Imagining that he would never speak. Imagining the loneliness and fear he would feel, never understanding the world around him and feeling afraid because he could not express his own confusing thoughts. I had recently read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and I just remember the sick emptiness I felt while reading about Christopher's isolation and distance from his own parents. My head was crowded with my fears. How could I learn to accept mothering a child who couldn't love me? At the least, how could I live with feeling that my child didn't want me close to him? While I cried, I grieved for Will. His aggression and fury and his single-minded focus on inappropriate behaviours terrified me. I flashed forward 10, 20 years and remembered all the horror stories I had heard of families who had to make the heart-wrenching decision to split their family apart to separate the aggressive child from the others, in order to protect them. At the time, Will had no interest in me. Owen would let me touch him, but would not let me hold him, but at least we had a connection. Will wouldn't even let me touch him. I was just another person to him. I remember saying to Jonathan, "does he even know I'm his mother? I don't think he loves me."

As a parent, I think we're all fearful. Afraid that we won't know what to do. Afraid that we're not doing right by our child. Afraid that one day our child will swerve on to a path that will lead to a place that you wouldn't wish on anyone, least of all one of your own. Most of all, afraid that our child will someday hate us. But you just learn to bury those fears and get on with it. You don't let yourself dwell on it because it's not productive. But this day those fears consumed me. It was the first time ever that I thought the thoughts out loud "I can't do this. I want out. I can't deal with this much pain." Absolute fear took over. I honestly felt like if I willed it, I could click my brain off to no longer feel the agony. Thank God that my love for my boys was bigger than my fear because I was able to reign it back in. I have never had to talk out loud to myself, but that's what I did. I gave my self a pep talk and talked myself down. I willed myself to take it one step at a time and to believe that my family was not created to be a story of tragedy, but a success story.

I will never forget that day and it haunts me but it also reminds me that my fears may have been honest, but they were rooted in unfair stereotypes. I let my ignorance of autism cloud my understanding that my boys were real people and not their behaviours. They are not autistics. They are children with autism. It does not define their future. It affects their future and it challenges them. But it does not define who they are. I can look back and be grateful because we are in a better place where those fears are no longer as founded. They remain, but I don't let myself dwell on them. Late at night when I can't sleep, they sometimes try to creep back into my consciousness, but I do my best to will them away.

So now you know. Just because I'm a mom of twins with autism, it doesn't mean I'm supermom, or admirable in any way. I'm just being a mom. Fighting the same demons we all have and just doing my best. Hoping I don't disappoint any of my three boys and praying that our hard work and our dreams for all three pay off.

Assignment completed. Now I don't want to think about that ever again.

N.B. This assignment was hosted by Mama Kat's Writers Workshop. Feel free to mosey on over to Mama Kat's for more stories by some awesome bloggers.


Shawn said...

Wow, awesome post. There's nothing worse than feeling gut-wrenching pain for your kids. I'm very thankful that when I have felt it, it was a short-term situation.. had my youngest son fighting for his life in PICU. Recovered with no long term consequences...but I remember that feeling. I think you ended up showing that you ARE what you don't think you are. An awesome mom that has gone forward despite the fear and uncertainty that you face. Again, awesome.

Dan said...

What an epiphany! That is always so scary when our kids face anything and we cannot fix it. Its when we would trade anything to have that power.

Life with Kaishon said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that all parents are fearful that something will happen to your kid. It is my biggest fear! Very nice post. I wish you and your children all the best!

Anonymous said...

Just because you are a real mom with real issues (food, bills, bills) does mean you are a supermom.
I admire anyone who is just being a mom.
Good for you.

Jaime said...

great post. wishing you and your kids all the best.

LeAnna said...

WOW, what a great post! I do not have kids yet, and could not imgine what it like to go through something like that! I admire you for your strength! Best wishes to both you and your family!

Anonymous said...

That was so honest and powerful. I'm glad you had that epiphany of sorts so that you could look at the situation from a new perspective. Blessings!

Maddy said...

Yes fear of the unknown is perfectly 'normal!' How come you're about the only person who visits my old black and white site?

You may [incidentally] be interested in the book that I'm reading at the moment [assuming you've not read it already] called Miracle Run - watching my autistic sons grow up - and take their first steps into adulthood, by Corrine Morgan-Thomas.

So far I'm only on chapter 5 but so far so good. If it continues to be a 'good read' I'll review it when I'm finished, then, if you fancy a scribbled on, dog eared, spine cracked, hand's yours.

suburbanmom said...

Loved your honesty. I understand the loss of dreams. I haven't written much on my blog, but am writing for myself often.

Mrs4444 said...

Wow. This was really moving. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with this story. You've inspired me to feature this post on my blog on Tuesday. If you know of one or two other mom bloggers who have inspiring/moving/funny posts on this topic, feel free to point me to them!

The Rambler said...

Came over from Mrs.4444's blog.

What a very real post! Being a mother puts us in a special group. I've never felt so supported by the common thread of so many different people that are just trying to make it as parents.

Keep on mommy'ing because even us 'supermoms' (as we ALL are :) need a day of rest.

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