My New Dreams as a Mother

I have two amazing daughters.  Claudia is 15 and Keira is 13.

They both are beautiful. They both have crazy curly red hair.  And they both have Autism.

A spectrum disorder that affects individuals differently and in varying degrees.  They may share this diagnosis but in most ways couldn’t be more different.

My Claudia has severe non verbal autism. She didn’t say her first real word until age 7.

She still has toileting issues and needs assistance with every aspect of life. She rarely sleeps through the night and is always on the move.

She also has the kindest soul.  Pure joy in the simple things in life.  She prefers to be alone so getting her attention makes you feel special.

And anyone able to keep that attention instant adores her.  Her sweetness and pure innocence draws people to her.

My Keira starting talking at age 4.  She has no natural social skills and behavioral issues.

She also lacks empathy and can be very rigid. She wants constant social interaction- loves being around people.

She has an incredible memory. Can script entire interactions in perfect detail. A girlie girl that likes to dress up.

Everything I read about being a mom to kids with autism resonates with me.

I can still feel the heartache of getting the official diagnosis. I remember the first time I realized my child was different. And the cold hand on my heart when I had to face how serious it was.

I have been the mom with the most obviously delayed toddler at a special needs play group. I have also been the mom whose child’s disability could go unnoticed at a passing glance.

The mom whose kid held her ears and could barely stand on stage for the Annual Talent Show.  And the mom whose kid shocked everyone by singing and dancing with the confidence of a rock star.

The mom whose kids IEP still has the same goals from Elementary school.  And the mom whose child changes so much in a school year that I talk to her teacher several times a week.

For me, motherhood has always been challenging.

Even after all these years I still feel overwhelmed in this role.  Days I feel broken and sad. Days I question my worth as a mother and choices I’ve made.  Days I feel like I’m barely surviving.

I dreamt about being a mother far longer than I have been one. My mother has always been my best friend and biggest fan.

I imagined having that kind of close relationship with my own daughters.

I dreamt of them as sisters with an unbreakable bond.  A bond that would carry on throughout life’s many milestones. I pictured them in each other’s weddings and raising kids together.

Dreams that now are painful to remember. Over time, I had to let go of these dreams to fully accept this life.

I had to learn find joy in replacing them with more realistic ones.

My new dreams focus on making sure my girls live their best life. That their lives are filled with happy memories of us as a family.

That they always know how much they are loved and cherished.

I pray I continue to find strength during the difficult times. To always see the miracles in small gains.

To never let them ever see the sadness that I feel at times seeing the lives of their typical peers. That the disappointment I feel is never about them and all about me.

My selfishness to want the life for them that I had. I want them to experience new things and never feel like they have missed out on something.

Something I was too scared to try so I could avoid the hurt that may come with it. And mostly for them to know they are the best thing that has ever happened to me.

They have changed me for the better in ways I could have never imagined.

That being their mother has been the greatest gift in my life.

Written by, Michelle Kiger

My name is Michelle Kiger. I’m mom of 2 daughters with autism, Claudia (14) and Keira (12). We live in NJ. I have the rare opportunity to see the whole spectrum of autism on a daily basis. You can follow our journey on Facebook at My Redhead Warriors.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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