Open Your Eyes To See Me: I AM YOUR CHILD

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.27.07 pmIf he could write to me, this is what I think he would of said.

The First letter in a series letters from my 3 year old child to me, his Mother.  Bless his cotton socks.  My reply of love follows.

 

Dearest Mummy,

Please open your eyes.

Here I am. Raw. Innocent. Pure.

Look and see me. The real me.

I am your child. Your love.

I share your biology. Your DNA.

I am dependent, fragile and new.

I am Me.

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I am whole and complete and desperate for your love because I am your child and you are my mother. It is the natural order of things.

What is this Autistic I hear you talking about? What does this mean? Am I Austism?

Why are you anxious? Being so connected to you, I feel it. I feel everything you feel. It scares me. It makes me worried. You are my security, my everything. Are you going somewhere? Are you leaving me?

Why do you look at me with such concern? Am I sick? Am I wrong? Do you not love me? No, ……..You love me. But do you really love me? I ask because I’m not sure you see me. The real me.

How come we go and see different people, therapists I think you call them? They are nice but I don’t like going. Can you not see I am happiest in my home where everything is familiar and predictable?

That is where you are.

In between your eyebrows, there are frown lines, like train tracks on your forehead. I don’t know what is means when your forehead crinkles like this. Am I not answering you right? Doing something right? The furrows; they are there often.

Mummy, please see me.

Know me. Understand me.

Try hard Mummy because I am your child and I need you. I need you to help me, to decipher this world and mostly, to love me. Always.

Your child,

MG xx

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My Letter of Love to Him

My Dearest Child, My Mini Giant, My MG,

Forgive me.

It has taken a little while, but I see you clearly now.

I see the real you. Your core, your soul, your purity, your spirit, your love. You.

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You are beautiful, unique, sparkling and rare. An individual and my special child.

I treasure your every breath.

And to answer your question:

No my darling. You are not “Autistic.”

You are my child who has Austism.

PDD-NOS to be precise. It means you can struggle with things like social interactions, self regulation, understanding non-verbal behaviour, and sensory hypersensitivity but your challenges are not so severe or some even present, to be classified as having “Classic Autism.”

These words are medical labels my love. The Doctors also refer to Autism as ASD. (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The titles help health professionals identify areas of disability. Your obstacles are serious, real and when know about them, we can work with you to overcome them, to help you function more easily. Together we will quieten the noise of your world to make it a little less scary and overwhelming.

I will write about what this means and how we can implement strategies to help in my next letter.

At the moment, I want to keep talking about how I do now see the real you and what you mean to me. Most of all, I want you to know that I love you with every atom in my body.

You are and will always be, firstly my beautiful child.

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This ASD journey has been unlike anything I have ever experienced before. As your mother, I am not sure I have ever been prepared for this. A mad whirlpool of emotions has spun my thoughts into a frenzy each day as I have tried to madly get up to speed in order to best understand you and how you view life.

Because what you see, think and feel is very different to how I process our world.

I have panicked and cried and fretted and mourned for you. Unsure of what I am doing or if indeed, I am the best person to be your guide.

As your mother, I have lost my way in your diagnosis. Trying to learn everything yesterday.

Focused solely on the label, I forgot that you were my little Angel. My child. I saw you equally as my son and as a patient to treat; Autism to battle.

Trying to fix you, yet you were never broken. I was looking for anything that would plaster over the challenges you faced.

I did this with love in my heart but concerned panic in my brain. I was very conflicted, confused and close-minded.

I am sorry.

I’m sorry that I was blind to the real you then. That my emotions and frenetic thinking pulled a thick, heavy curtain between us. Perhaps, shielding you from me for a time. Unintentionally, making me less emotionally accessible. Not fulfilling my role as a mother in the way you needed.

I have cared for you, played with you and tried to be present. I have fed, clothed and bathed you. I have rocked you to sleep, sung songs and danced with you. I have calmed your body and soothed you. I have nurtured you to the best of my ability but always in my head was the PDD-NOS. Like a coal miners head torch shining constantly from my forehead, a spot light putting the Autistic label in the lead role and centre stage.

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Activities I planned were always around therapy outcomes and skill acquisition. Educational, social, behavioural. “Lets draw a smile. It means you are happy. Like a sideways banana, yes that is a smile. Happy feels like warmth in your tummy. Your heart might beat a little faster. Your body can be tingly. You may want to run around. Happy is a yellow colour….”

Nights spent researching, learning, questioning. ABA therapy. Gluten free/Casein free diet. Supplements. The importance of the Brain- Gut Axis. Social stories. Visual aids. Sensory blankets. Sleeping Aides. Melatonin. Hours upon hours in the dead of night desperately looking for the Holy Grail that would “save” you.

Only, you don’t need to be saved or fixed.

You are not damaged my darling. You just need to be seen and understood. I know this now.

Like trying to smash a round peg into a square hole, our world is frightening, chaotic and confusing place to live for you. Dominant yet unwritten rules seem to form a delicate and intricate web that is the foundation of our human interaction. Operating in this neurotypical world, everyone seems to intrinsically know what these invisible rules are, except you. This in part, is what makes living with Autism a challenge for you.

You are not alone. As a neurotypical individual, those rules confuse even me at times. But I am here to help you navigate those situations and learn some general guidelines.

My darling, you have been unconditionally accepting of me. You have also taught me so much.

 

Mumma and Son
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You teach me daily to be patient. To stop, breathe and to listen.

You teach me daily what it is to be a mother.

You teach me daily about trust.

But most of all my dearest child, you teach me daily about love. How to love, how to be loved and how to accept love.

So my gorgeous Son,

Forgive me for my mistakes.

I see you.

You are my child with Autism.  Autism does not define you.

I see you.

You are so much more, so much greater than any diagnosis.

I see you.

My love. My DNA. I will always love and adore you, for you.

You are seen.

Mumma xx

 

 

 

 

 

Build It Up, Build It Up, Build Us Higher.

Did you know that I’m building a tribe? Yes. I am.

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A tribe that offers a safe place to normalise our life experiences, emotions and provides real, honest, supportive advice when we stumble.

In a time where globally women are subjected to more censure and restriction than ever before, our tribe is supported by a constitution that builds us up and celebrates the similarities and our differences that are invisibly woven throughout each of our lives, connecting us like a giant tapestry.

The ultimate in a virtual network of friends and brains trust.

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Why?

Because being a Mum, a Woman, a Carer, in this day and age can be challenging, isolating and exhausting.

We are all time poor and trying to co-ordinate a catch up with trusted friends can be like trying to round up all the G20 leaders for a quick dinner – nigh on impossible, especially at short notice.

When shit hits your fan, sure you have the phone.

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Even then, grabbing 2 minutes to call a friend to chat, vent and unpack whatever is going on is still bloody difficult.

From your end, kids scream in the background demanding your attention, dinner needs to be made, washing wont do it self and neither will school lunch preparation for the next day. That is of course, assuming you connect with the person you rang in the first place!

Adding to the challenge, your friend may be facing a similar situation at their end. It’s a battle can that requires MENSA level strategists’ and their modelling algorithms. You’ve got to get your intended target intercept perfectly calibrated to the exact minute for successful contact.

Sigh. Attempting to touch base sometimes can feel all too hard.

Life pulls at us. Do you feel that?

Its continuous demands pulls us away from each other, apart.

Then before you know, time disappears. It moves so quickly like smoke through a keyhole. Vapours visible one moment, gone and irretrievable the next.

Work, family, ageing parents, young children, teenagers, after school activities, domestics. Not sure how many balls you juggle at once but my arms are exhausted from keeping those spheres in the air.

There is almost no time for me.

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I want to create a place for us to plug into at any time. All the time. When you need it most and at the moment you need it. With ease.

A supportive place to laugh, vent and be nurtured in understanding.

At the very least, to know that you’re not alone. Someone has been through what you’re going through and the experience can be normalised, rationalised and solutions offered.

No Polly Anna Perfect here. Our tribe is defined by rejecting the stereotype of women whereby we compete with each other to our detriment.

Aren’t you fed up with women negatively competing, combatting each other? I’m over it. Tired of women tearing each other apart, dissecting the pieces, spitting venom on the differences in an attempt to feel better about themselves. Real Housewives of Wherever has a lot to answer for. Yes it’s entertaining to a point. A voyeuristic, train-wreck-but-can’t-look –away-esque, escape. BUT that gets old and nasty real quick.

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Why some women think they can act that way towards another and believe that it is ok, is lost on me. I don’t buy bullying, shredding an individuals’ dignity, putting someone down because of their outfit as healthy or normal.

Sadly I have seen this behaviour transferred from the TV screen and played out in the schoolyard. Who gives a crap if Kerry’s Mum is wearing Gucci or Country Road? Whose business is it if little Clara’s Mum’s dress is a tad short – especially with those stumpy legs? Who made you judge and jury of Sara’s Mum “too blonde” hair or Jessie’s Mum’s car?

Listen Chickas; there will always be someone who is richer, prettier, bigger boobed, smarter, healthier, younger, whatever-ier than you. Concentrate on your own patch; tend to your own garden before you start crapping on another. And babes, if you do shit on another, pick it up. Retract it. It’s fucking ugly behaviour and unbecoming to your intellect, not worthy of your soul.

I have been a victim of the vultures.

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One of the most significant experiences that has burnt itself into my memory happened in my late 20’s. As a newly minted mediator, I was invited to a national conference. It was only for those who had been granted special accreditation for a preferred industrial relations panel by our federal government. It was an honour and an achievement and I was thrilled to be rocking this. I was the youngest there by an average of 20 – 30 years. I was also one of very few females.

It was held in northern QLD where it was hot, sticky and humid. I dressed appropriately for a conference – didn’t have my boobs hanging out. Don’t have much to hang out anyway but I wore conservative clothing.

And you know what! I was still marginalised, ostracised and spoken down to.

The women were the worst.

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Clearly threatened by a younger individual. Discounted by others as fluff. I had plenty of male attention but not as a colleague, as eye candy. It was uncomfortable, sexist, demeaning and exclusionary.

Have you ever been to a gathering of people you thought you admired and excited to be a part of, walked up to introduce yourself only to have people turn their backs – Physically. Turn. Their. Backs…. On you?

Have you ever held out your hand as a welcome only to have it left there in the air hanging away like a useless, dead appendage? Have you ever been told you were too young to offer any experience or value? “Close your mouth darling. Open it after you come out of the cellar. Or when you’ve been around the block a few times.” Snide giggles.

It’s hideous. I have thick skin but shit this was really, really awkward and disheartening. Akin to being the new kid at school and no one operating on normal social conventions like RESPONDING WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU A FUCKING QUESTION! Bitchy. Confidence crushing.

How is it I was so offensive that my sheer physical presence was intolerable? I asked one of the males that deign to address me. The reply: Go away and don’t come back until I had “aged” as I was too “beautiful” to be taken seriously. VOMMMMMM.IT. And sheer bullshit.

The behaviour unconscionable. Women taking delight in openly vilifying me. No mercy afforded, I was being metaphorically dismembered because I was different. As the perceived easy target, the frenzied, soul thirsty mob excited by my demise.

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F you all and f off. I have a lot to offer and your miserable insecurity issues are just that – your issues. Get over them or not. At the most basic level surely your conscience requires you to operate with a modicum of human decency and stop acting like a _________________? [You can fill in the blank. I know which expletive works best for me here……!]

This – this tearing down, trying to ruin another, being threatened by some illusionary threat, is what I want to change.

I want to challenge the marginalisation and fracturing of our female collectiveness.

We have mentors in business. Therapists for personal issues. Life coaches for Life. Why can’t we be real with each other and stop walking on eggshells? Say what we mean, be direct knowing that it comes from a place of genuine respect and care? Let’s act as a mentor, therapist, the loyal friend when it’s needed rather than directing energy to isolating and targeting those we don’t understand or pussy footing around with our truth because we are fearful of being judged, unleashing the piranhas in response.

I want to lift us up. Together.

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There is so much more within us than we allow to develop. Imagine how incredible we could all be, the power of it all if we pooled our collective knowledge, experiences, emotional intellect. Our potential and the possibilities are endless. The benefits so numerous as to touch us at every level.

I believe we all have something to teach and something to learn.

So let’s start by celebrating strong, amazing women who kick arse daily in their chosen field.

Oprah, Gigi Hadid, Malala Yousafzai you are A.MAZE.ING! Beyonnce, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Obama love your work. Christine Lagarde, Arianna Huffington you are on my ultimate chicks dinner invite list. Mia Freedman, Georgie Gardner, I admire the hell out of you.

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To all the young female entrepreneurs, you rock. Mum’s, Grand Mothers’ everywhere you can be fierce role models to your children and community. My friends, you are inspirational women who battle each day and come home winners. Exhausted perhaps, but still killing it.

And so I say this:

It is time for all of us to learn to embrace our female uniqueness, harness and channel it.

All women are beautiful, regardless of age. All women have something to offer, REGARDLESS OF AGE. There is strength in emotion and I claim that too.

Together, lets redefine ‘Da Sista Hood.

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Actively participate in the tribe to build a new constitution, where difference is awesome, similarities’ are comforting, and being a resilient, intelligent woman confident in the shape of your skin, what ever that shape is, is as sexy as hell.

Taking back my power and pushing women forward and upwards everywhere.

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Let’s do this.

Tell me which woman inspires you and why.  

Neve xx