When I first became a mother and was home for four months with my daughter before returning to work, I struggled with my new identity. My close friends were still living the single, child-free life of Sunday Fundays and live music on weeknights. My life was suddenly all rattles and diapers, communicating only with a babbling infant about shapes and colors. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that raising a child is an important role, arguably the most important, but I was so absolutely lost in the new world of parenting. I needed so badly to be something other than “just” a mom (admittedly a flawed perspective) – I needed a hobby, a mission, a passion.
When she was a toddler, I became the breadwinner in our family as my husband went back to school. I thought I had found my sweet spot after over a year of waffling between interests and pursuits. I worked overtime and side jobs to provide for my family. I cut coupons and shopped sales. I lived to make my family financially stable – that was my job and I dove head-first into the work.
Then along came child #2. My husband and I decided he would leave school, and I would transition to my new role as stay-at-home mom since no work I could find would keep us afloat as a family of four. Again, I was challenged by this new chapter of my life. Where were my daily goals, where were my deadlines? I thrive on tasks and to-dos, and I strive to exceed expectations put forth by those in “authority.” Here I was with children as my new superiors, and the demands they put on me were so random and disorganized.
Now, I’m not going to give you the whole “autism is a blessing” schpeil. My children are gifts, but their ailments could never be considered such. However, I will say that autism has saved my sanity almost as much as it has stolen it. With autism came drive and focus. Each day, I wake up with new challenges and projects, even when there is nothing on the calendar to accomplish. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a therapy or research or searching for grant funding, I’m never without something to do. Webinars, books, provider searches, the latest studies, delving into genetics, organizing paperwork, trying a new diet. There’s never a boring day!
By far, the most important and gratifying occupation of my life has been working on my daughter’s recovery and healing. It is a full-time (plus) job – it is truly 24/7. But, almost as satisfying has been the responsibility that has emerged since her diagnosis – outreach. I have found a true passion in being vocal about autism and related issues like healthcare, avoiding toxins, nutrition, and education about vaccines.
Through this endeavor, I have found so much support, positive feedback, and fulfillment. I have discovered talents and a love of sharing my story. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to help others just by helping my daughter and allowing our journey to be a public one, sharing the good and the bad. Parts of me that had lain dormant for so long have been jolted awake: the activist, the health nut, the social butterfly, the event coordinator, the boss, the fighter, the revolutionary. Even my spiritual side has been renewed; it takes great leaps of faith to be involved in recovery and – dare I say it? – world change.
This is my life, whether I chose it or not. I’ll never be one to accept autism as a matter-of-fact or as my daughter’s destiny, but I will embrace my new role, and I will continue to exceed the expectations set for me and my daughter. As her progress continues, my resolve becomes stronger and my commitment to her and others intensifies. I’m no longer “just” a mom (who is, really?). I am a warrior, a Thinker, a mentor, a conduit, an advocate. The incentives are better than any paid job could offer. I see the fruits of my labor every day in the slow and steady emergence of my daughter from the hiding place that is neurological and physical damage, but also in the camaraderie of fellow Thinkers and the gratitude of those new to this world. These rewards will keep my revolutionary and investigatory fires stoked.
You have now been recruited for this position. Assume this new life purpose because you are desperately needed. Your family is relying on you, as are many other families you’ve never had the pleasure to meet. We need you; we need your fervor and your tenacity. As you and others accept this unexpected role, our numbers will multiply and our strength will grow, and future generations will have fewer hurdles to overcome. Harness all that anger and frustration, and turn it into hope. Once you commit to doing so, you will find you are more effective as a parent and your child will begin to advance by leaps and bounds, more so than any one supplement can promise.
~ Lone Star