Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Used to Be Nicer

I used to be nicer.  I was one of those people who others referred to as sweet. 

I think it's a good way to be seen. I was never a pushover, but I can't help but feel that I've lost my nice.  I spend so much of my time being hyper aware of pending mistreatment of my son, that I've somehow lost the ability to just welcome the world in a more open way.

I am so occupied with my own life, that it can be hard to have the interest in other people's stories, the way that I once did.  Sometimes, shamefully, other people's problems seem insignificant and small.  I am ashamed to admit that, but it is the truth.

I get tired of feeling angry, even if it is justified.  I get tired of speaking up for my son, even though I have to.  It's not that I don't think it's important, it just can take the good out of you.  It can be too easy for me to get focused on the people who are rude, more than the people who are kind.  Simply because the rude hurts so very, very much.....  and it scares me.  Terrifies me, because ultimately this is the world I have to pass my boy over to some day, and I can't help but notice how mean some people can be.

I need a world filled with nicer people.  I need to be a nicer person too. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pins and Things

Well, World Autism Awareness Day is over for another year.  I love that day, I really do.  It feels like the whole world is seeing us, reminded of us, and hopefully they given a bit of an education on this wonder that is autism.
My son, of course, asked to go to McDonalds for Autism Day.  How could I refuse? He knew it was a day of celebration, celebration means McDonald's, or moreso, their PlayPlace.
As my children were exploring the wonders of McDonald's play structure, I noticed an older boy walking happily around the base.  As soon as he covered his ears when the younger children squeale with delight, I knew he was one of our own.  He spoke to me,and I spoke back, smiled when he smiled.  An older lady who had been watching through a glass window came and sat next to me on the bench.  She motioned towards the autism pin on my shirt.  "I see you're wearing an autism pin", she motioned towards the boy, "my grandson has autism."
"Yes", I replied, " I saw him covering his ears, and thought that he might.  My son has autism too."
We chatted back and forth, the conversation was pleasant, comfortable.  The lady was comfortable, and so was I. All because I wore a pin that marked me as a safe person. 
So many of us moms sport our autism bling.  We have bracelets, earrings, keychains, scarves.  So much of it bought as fundraisers, so much of it that just calls to us.  Sometimes we wear it so others might better understand our children, and sometimes these small symbols make us recognizable to each other. 
Imagine if more people wore their acceptance.  If our communities were filled with people who wore their support for others to see. 
I am glad I wore that pin that day.  It was a poignant reminder of why awareness matters, and why WAAD is worth celebrating.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Eve of Eight

My apologies for the lack of posting lately.  It's not that I have stopped writing posts, it's just that sometimes I decide to keep them to myself.  When I first started this blog, my beloved boy was just four years old.   Now, he is eight, and his story often seems to be more his than mine.  I try not to blur those lines, and make sure that I write more about my thoughts and feelings than his experiences.  In honour of World Autism Awareness Day coming up on April 2nd, I thought I'd share a little something I wrote late last fall, the night before my son's eigth birthday. Natalie

The Eve of Eight

Tomorrow morning, I will awaken to my little boy being eight.  Eight.  It seems like such a big number to me now.

An eight year old.  But not the type who kisses my cheek as he sprints out the door in search of neighbourhood friends, or pedals his bike to the corner store with a bulging pocket of coins and dreams of sweet.  My eight will still hold my hand, and not be allowed to play outside of a fenced yard alone.

Autism.  Autism is a part of my eight year old.  It started out being part of my three year old, but through the mysterious passage of time, endless days turned to fleeting years.  Soon my three became a four; my four grew into five, six into seven.  And here I sit, on the eve of eight. 

I used to fear this passage of time, I waved it down like a quickly passing train, begging it to slow down, or stop.  I feared the days my son’s differences would emerge from their camouflage of toddlerhood.  I yearned for the memories of stroking his cheek, pinching his flexing toes, and squeezing his rounded ankles as an infant, when his possibilities seemed as limitless as a prairie horizon.  But fourteen month olds aren’t supposed to speak in full sentences, or label complex heavy equipment like a master engineer.  They are supposed to wave like they mean it though, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to prompt him to say I love you too.  I wasn’t na├»ve enough to live in that kind of denial.

With diagnosis came a new sky.  A scary sky, capped at the edges with a cloudy fringe, not letting me peep through, to see what lay ahead.  I was scared.  More scared than I’d ever been.  The kind of fear that soaks a young mother’s pillow night upon night, the kind of fear she hides behind a mask of acceptance.  It was a fear I could not share, because no one else could understand.

But true acceptance has come.  It just took time to take root, as all meaningful things do.  Its fragile ribbons weaved their way through me, thickening my skin, changing how my eyes see, how my ears hear, how my heart feels.  Autism has grown on me too.  I see it more as a difference than a better than or a less than.  I am in awe of my son’s unique perspective on the word, his ability to trust his own instincts.  How in tune he is.  How he can draw whatever he wants, in three-dimension, and it always looks good.

Now, as he grows older, I do not mind if he stands unmasked, and bask in the glow of the uniqueness that is him.  I cannot control or even forecast how others will react, how they will treat him.  What I do know, is that as his exceptions begin to stand out, it is not shame that swallows me.  It is a pride.  And if he finds himself spotlighted in a crowd, I would applaud him to always be himself.  I have no notions of the glorification of blending, assimilating.  I am ashamed if I ever did.

So, tomorrow, as we awaken to eight, I will walk strongly towards it, head held high, holding his hand in mine.