Raising two boys on the autism spectrum, I have come to accept that everyone has an opinion on the way I should parent. I normally don't write much about our boys being on the autism spectrum, mainly because I don't have much to say about it in the way people expect.
Today, however, is different, and what I have to say about it is, I think, of some value, even if just from a human perspective, and especially if you don't have children on the spectrum. I ran into this woman today, who on several occasions has attempted to discuss autism at length with me. Mind you, I do not know her name, nor am I entirely sure she knows mine, but through mutual acquaintances, she knows about the boys landing on the spectrum. That said, I am more than willing to have discussions about it, and we have been, and continue to be open about the subject.
Before this woman had a child, she read me the riot act because when she questioned whether or not we vaccinated our children, I was forthcoming and responded "yes." Once she had a child, she told me I had "drank the water," and vaccines were the cause of my children's autism -- this, despite the fact that medical research has proven vaccines do NOT cause autism. Today, I saw her and I could feel my cheeks burn, the hair on my arms prickle and my insides start to blister. And then I overheard her loudly whispering to someone about my "choices" to vaccinate.
I did my best to ignore her, and once I got in my car, I began to cry. This is what I wanted to say to her today: please stop judging me, I am doing the best I know how. Yes, we are candid about our boys having autism. We are open about it, because to not acknowledge it would mean we are embarrassed of who our children are -- and we are not.
I am at a loss for the answers to why both of our children have this. Listen, I get it; people want reasons, they expect reasons. While I pray daily about our boys and our situation, God hasn't given me an answer as to "why," and I have stopped expecting one, because I am pretty sure he sees the big picture when I don't.
If you don't know the parent you are judging, just stop. And if you do know them, proceed with kindness. I can tell you that I am doing the very best that I know how. Do I make mistakes as a mother? Oh, heck yes. But, so does every mother I know. When you ask someone you don't know at all have they thought of this reason or that treatment, you are essentially saying to them, "have you thought of this reason to blame yourself?" There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, you can say to me that I haven't already questioned in my mind during sleepless nights. I see the way you look at me and talk when you think I can't hear you. I see the sympathetic, disdainful, and critical eye rolls you toss my way when my kids are acting insane, or only wearing costumes because he lives in an alternate reality. I know you thank God every day that he didn't give you a child like mine. I am aware of all of these things, and while I cried the whole way home today because I wanted to be nasty to you in return, I chose not to judge you.
I chose not to judge you because I think you are doing the best that you know how. I can tell you, when we stopped asking "why," something in our house changed. All of the time and energy spent on trying to find a reason has been replaced with what I like to call "finding the magic." The boys have talents I could only dream of, and they give us a whole new perspective on the world. Our youngest one literally sees the world as a magical place.
So, my advice from my soapbox today is to stop judging and instead come from a place of kindness. We are all fighting battles. Everyone has challenges. Some you can see, some you cannot, and I choose to believe we are all doing our best. And, if you are wise enough to live authentically, you will find your own magic.
This was originally featured on www.mischiefandshenanigans.com.