Every mother has a different perspective of motherhood.
For me, motherhood is a blessing that I never knew would come. My firstborn, Reagan, is my miracle baby, because the pregnancy before him was a phantom of a dream that I once had. I will always wonder what my life would be like, had this phantom baby were real, and would I have two children or three? Blighted ovum is a difficult pill to swallow, much like Alzheimers. You see a human being, but they are not there. Not really. Much like an empty shell.
Motherhood has given me a brutal beating, but you know what? I remember sitting in restaurants, staring at children and giggling babies at other tables, with my heart ripped into shreds. I wanted to be a mother so badly, that it hurt to see my closet friends give birth, raise their children, and see their unmistakable bonds. I hated that I felt such resentment, but it was there like an elephant in the room.
Choosing the words “brutal beating” is harsh, I know. When I use these words, I am referring to fleeting moments of autistic meltdowns…..punches and bites and screaming. Strong bitterness and back talk from the sibling of an autistic child. There are so many dynamics involved under the roof of a family that has a special needs child or adult. Dynamics that cannot be understood to the fullest, even if you have a special needs family member. Because guess what? Just like each person is different from the next, this applies to autism, down syndrome, lupus, muscular dystrophy, mental illness, etc. Everyone copes and processes differently. This is my journey of motherhood.
Reagan was this perfect Gerber baby, chubby and happy. He slept fairly well, with his tiny fists on each side of his face, squishing his cheeks together. Watching him sleep was peaceful. He made me feel such a happiness that I couldn’t even fathom how life was before he was here. He was a good baby. As he grew into a toddler, his personality was hysterical, and he kept us all laughing. He looked like Charlie Brown with his big, bald head. He was my sweet boy, and he loved me so much. His heart could move mountains, it was so big, and because of that he was a very sensitive boy. Still is. I love this about him, because he loves so intently, and cares so much, however, once Bailey came, he had to share his time with us, and that didn’t always sit well with him. I don’t think there is enough credit given to the siblings in a special needs family. Reagan is affected by every one of Bailey’s meltdowns. Each one breaks him down a little bit more. He has high anxiety all the time, even has trouble falling asleep at times. We have to treat him with kid gloves, and there are some judgements about this. Those judgements don’t concern me anymore.
Reagan needs more one on one time with each of us separately. He needs to always be assured that he matters and is loved. He needs to reminded that he is a very smart boy, even though he has had struggles at school this year. He is so deserving. We have had some rough patches, but he is an amazing nine year old boy, that has the world at his feet. He will make a wonderful, tender hearted husband, and father, one day, and he makes my heart burst. Every night he lets me rub his head and he tells me about his day and all of his woes. Thank GOD I have those nights, because I wouldn’t be able to stand being disconnected from my firstborne. Being his mother makes me so proud.
Bailey is my Velcro child, always right there, always stumbling over her. She can’t fall asleep without me, and she wraps around me like a spider monkey so that I can’t get up and sneak away. Bailey was always behind the game, through no fault of her own, and not my fault, either, though it took me many years to stop punishing myself. Bailey is a lovely, blue-eyed little girl with an off the wall personality, a memory like a steel trap, and this insurmountable creativity and love of art.
We gave her everything she needed as parents after her diagnosis, and she has blossomed beyond our expectations. It took great strength to parent her, and it has been a rollercoaster, but she flourishes every day. Till this day, I watch her play with her toys, doing her “thing”, as she calls it, and I hear her pronounce all of these words into these beautiful sentences. Being a witness to her growth has defined me as a mother. Her disability has challenged me more than anything else in my life. Her meltdowns have broken me down, but forced me to conjer strength to put myself back together again. She is this little person with such fight and determination. We have a long way to go, and we need more help, but it is only uphill from here. I am so blown away by her perseverance. What a wonderful little girl she has become.
Admittedly, I enjoy my community of mothers with children with autism, and being labeled a Warrior Mom, but you know what? All mothers are warriors. We wipe noses, we cook meals, we transport, we clean and make lunches. But let’s be honest, what really matters? Our nurturing spirits, our limitless amount of love for our children, and our fierce protective nature when our child has been hurt. They will grow and become teenagers, and we will still smell their sweet skin on our faces, and remember the softness of their hair, and they way they used to look up at us with such adoration.
This motherhood thing. It’s amazing.