Motherhood is like carrying a paddleboard up the long ramp along the side of a hill with an impatient passerby trying to squeeze next to you. It is the cold earl-gray latte that never received a sip because of the water-hose crisis in the backyard. Motherhood is the one-glass-of-wine night because anything more might push you into a drunken state of oblivion. Motherhood is finding the giggle-button moments hidden between the melted popsicle on the kitchen floor and the empty bird feeders. It is the ultimate balancing act of doctor appointments on the left shoulder, making morning oatmeal on the right shoulder, lifting sad spirts because social distancing is just hard on the right tippy-toe, and taking oh-so-deep breathes just as you tighten your core.
A decade ago I would have sighed, thinking my life was on pause because it was impossible to have it all. I would have told myself that good mothers were awake before her children, preparing breakfast and packing lunch boxes for the day ahead. I told myself that it was okay to skip the workout because my kids needed the nighttime story and kiss goodnight. I also convinced my heart and soul that if I didn’t live up to some of these standards that my kids would see through me – and they would see that I was ill-equipped for this role of motherhood.
These beliefs are difficult to shake, especially when you know you are the stabilizing force in your children’s lives. It is painful to imagine life without you for your children. And, I write these words with great meaning because this is truly a belief system that guides my day-to-day.
And like the wind shifts the water’s movement on a lake, I opened myself to a new way of living. Autism Motherhood is about pulling out those favorite heels and pairing them with your favorite pair of jeans. Autism Motherhood is driving two-hours into the mountains with girlfriends to find laughter, respite, wine-drinking, and late nights watching the moon chase the water. It is also about telling my children that I am passionate about helping others, the written word, the soul of country music, and the steady reminder of the rocky mountains. Autism Motherhood is showing my children that I am me – a strong, confident woman who not only uses an electric drill to install shelves but also listens and cries with the very best. The true definition of motherhood is neither complex nor complete. Instead, it is a series of moments and mistakes and reminders about staying true to yourself. It is about learning big lessons in life from your greatest teachers, your children, about empathy, patience, and forgiveness.
And, hot damn, Autism Motherhood is totally rocking your job via Zoom meetings and phone calls at home while your kids decorate your head with hats in front of your boss. It is prepping lunch and making sure the supplements are still served all while still being a voice at the table with colleagues. It isn’t about apologizing for the noise in the background, rather it is saying, “my time is valuable so let’s get to work.” Motherhood.
So, the next time someone says your life is so crazy and chaotic, your response, fierce women, is, “it is a beautiful life and I wouldn’t change a thing.” Your response is my greatest gifts in life are not only my children but also my passion for listening to the trickle of water and helping others to find empathy, not sympathy, in autism. Your response, and mine, is yes, I am a dynamite mother because of the women inside of me.
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