Thursday, November 3, 2011

GBE2 Weekly Challenge: Popularity

I think that there are many people who hear about my life and feel sorry for me. And, to those of you who have felt or still feel that way, thank you for your empathy. However, truth be told, we are really okay.

Yes, there is a giant list of things that we as a special needs family deal with on a daily basis that most don't. That's okay. We know better than to dwell. What's more, I've reached a point in my parenting where I can actually appreciate some of the qualities that come along with this job.

For example, when my younger son says that I need to order the under eye cream that gets rid of "old lady bags", I know that he's being truthful. Frankly, he lacks the social graces to hide that opinion. I can always count on him to tell it to me straight. Thank you autism.

One of our boys, with his mile-a-minute chatter, has brought me to develop mental fortitude that I didn't think I had. In combination with his Energizer Bunny brother, who has stretched my physical stamina in infinite ways, they are the perfect trainers. I curse their lessons daily and yet emerge a better person for the challenges they give me.

They have stripped me of my ego, but I don't think that is a bad thing. I am the mom of the child who will lie on the floor of the mall in protest and the keeper of the same child who will hit and kick me in the grocery store in order to get to the vacuum closet. Through this, I have learned that there are more important things in life than your spectators and their opinions of you. After all, what role does vanity play when you are battling for the future of your kids? The special needs of my kids have grounded me as a person.

Today, as I contemplate the weekly challenge of my blogging group, I think of the topic of "popularity" and am thankful for one thing: because of autism, my children don't care about it.

I am the former chubby band geek and academic club member in my high school class whose friends were the cheerleaders and majorettes, the queens and court members of the school dances. I wanted to be them. All those promising traits that I carried as a youth--that we all carry as youths in one way or another--were buried under my dreams of being date-able or attractive or otherwise desirable. I wasted a lot of years in the quest for popularity when I could have been living my own life, developing myself as a person.

Now, as a parent of two children with autism, I am happy that they have little if any understanding of this social concept. Content to let others play the popularity game and allow society to dictate what kind of people they should be, our children, in different degrees, are free to be the captains of their lives. If they are going to have struggles understanding the rules of social engagement, thank goodness they also don't second-guess all of their actions for fear of not being adored by the masses.

I know that this isn't true of all people who have autism. It is the reality of autism in this house, and I'm more than fine with that.

What blissful abandon it must be to be a third grader who is content to watch the Weather Channel every morning and evening--and talk about it with his classmates ad nauseum--without his caring that his peers might consider it odd!

How wonderful it is to like what you like and to be able to show it to the world uncensored!

How refreshing it is to not crave the attention of the masses but, rather, be content to have just one friend.

Sure, there are drawbacks to just about anything. But, in this case, when so many of my friends have children navigating the rough waters of the social pecking order at their schools, I sit back and think, well, there is one battle that none of us has to fight.

Living life today on the bright side of autism. I hope, somewhere in the day, my fellow special ed families are able to do the same.


  1. If all kids could just get that tidbit of what autism has given to your boys, that'd be a fabulous blessing.

    Oh, and I don't think I've ever felt sorry for you, at least not in a big, overall way. I've cringed for you for some of the experiences you've had to deal with, but that'd be the case no what sort of parenting stories you were sharing, special-needs or not, and I've definitely sympathized with the exhaustion that you and your hubby deal with. Those endless late-night drives must leave you drained, and that's no picnic. We expect to go without sleep when our kids are infants, but within a few years, most of us got to sleep through the night almost all of the time.

    I guess what I'm saying is that while I do feel for you for a lot of what you go through, I don't particularly feel sorry for your overall parenting experience, because I think you've been blessed with these truly amazing little boys. They may be puzzling at times and they definitely require different approaches than the masses, but they're gorgeous little people and you have the privilege of loving, guiding, and encouraging them, hurting alongside them when they struggle, and celebrating their victories. That's the stuff of motherhood, and it's all sorts of wonderful.

  2. WOAH it was difficult for you..but another chapter of your book finished :0) LOVED THIS

    They have stripped me of my ego

    How refreshing it is to not crave the attention of the masses but, rather, be content to have just one friend.

    an HONORED if you ever call me friend! ((hugs))
    YOU are amazing..just was sharing with my hubby this morning and read some of this to him..ok so i admit it ..i am crying. LOVE YOU!! hope one day we can meet in person..actually hope we can all have some sort of GBE 2 reunion!!!!!!

  3. I think it is a gift to have the two of you so invested. It's a true talent to be able to read and appreciate--really understand--what people are putting into their writing. Thank you both for taking the time to do this for me.

  4. And, yes, this topic took me forever!! Ugh. Hope next week's topic flows with ease!

  5. That is one aspect I wish I could have lived without. Having no clue about popularity. This is a wonderful blog, as all of them of yours usually are. I love having a glimpse into your life. You rise to the occasion with a smile on your face, and I love that about you!


  6. Amy, I know you probably don't consider yourself a hero - you're a mom just doing what needs to be done - but you're one of mine. It would be really, really easy for someone in your shoes to whine about how unfair this or that is. Instead you share your challenges honestly, but with a smile and finding something to rejoice in. Like, that your sons will not every worry about being "popular." That they can enjoy the pleasures of their lives, like the weather channel, without worrying that friends will think they're weird.

    So glad I met you via our Tribe and GBE2

  7. I look at Bear and feel the way you do. He is so lucky to be this kid who is obsessed with holidays, cartoon voices, and making art out of recycled materials (read: trash lol). This kid who is loud and boisterous and just loves everything about life. Sometimes people find him to be a bit much...but does he care? Not at all! I wish we all could be like that.

  8. I just read the most beautiful tribute to motherhood. Like Beth, I have not felt sorry for you, never. I feel your pain sometimes and I feel your devotion and love every time. I adore the gusto with which you tackle your somewhat unique tasks. lol I have told you before and I will say it again, you were given these specially gifted boys because God knew you would be the right ONE to raise them with love and appreciation.

    I will admit to you bringing me to tears more than one time, but not in pity. Tears of gratitude that the boys have such parents and such a chance to life their own full lives.

    I admire, respect and adore you Amy. Your sense of humor is not to be dismissed here, it is what keeps you going, I'd bet cash on that!

    Fabulous blog and worth the wait. ((hugs))

  9. Well done, Amy,
    Another glimpse into your thoughts has made me look again into my own and those I care for. I truly appreciate your writing!


  10. I have the greatest supporters going! Thank you for taking the time to read and for humbling me with your responses. I'm just a mom with a blog. That any of you would spend time out of your day to read makes me very grateful.

    This topic was difficult to write because it affects families with autism profoundly--families who have watched their child being bullied or standing alone among a sea of people and have felt the pain of every pitfall. I have felt that pain. I think that I could have written a few different takes on this topic, however, in the end, I kept coming back to seeing the greater good in their social deficits. My kids so far have avoided the pain that I have felt for them. Sending love to any of you who found this to be a difficult read.

  11. I'll never forget the comment a friend of ours made when she lost her special needs child. "Life is easier, but oh what I wouldn't give to have her back."
    Sometimes you trade a bit of sanity for bits of intense beauty.

  12. How profound: trade a bit of sanity for bits of intense beauty--superb!