To the Mom who is Trying to Figure out who She is After Special Needs:

I thought I would be a boy mom. A baseball mom. A hockey mom.

A social mom. A mom with a lot of friends.

A cool mom. A successful mom.

Autism challenged every one of those titles for me.

I am brave enough to say that.

The role of special needs mom overpowered it all.

It turned my whole world completely upside down. And inside out. And backwards.

It demanded I slow down. And move faster at the same time.

It demanded I speak out and yet learn to hold my tongue.

It demanded I change who I was and the woman I wanted to be.

It demanded I give up control of my life and my future and hold on tight for the ride.

It consumed me.

I became a version of myself I didn’t really recognize.

A woman who was a bit lost. A bit chaotic. One who didn’t have time to talk.

One who felt out of place in crowds. Who felt different than her peers.

One who was permanently exhausted.

One who chased. I affectionally call it a drone mom…much like a helicopter mom but more.

One who only knew chaos. And how to talk about autism.

One who gave a quick hello before always running off.

I became anxious. I was always waiting for something bad to happen. A phone call from school. A new behavior. A loss of a service or a benefit.

Hitting, kicking, running, screaming and self injuring became our normal.

Putting stuff in the bathtub. Stripping beds. Lining up chairs. What is it going to be this week?

I took it all in stride. Bouncing like a pinball through the levels of my life.

I had too. I forced myself to find acceptance after the grief.

I refused to be sad. Or angry. I found joy in the chaos. But if you peeled back my external layer you would see a mom who was struggling.

Living at the level of intensity for so long does some damage. How could it not?

I longed for it to get easier.

Only it didn’t.

The years ticked by, my son got bigger, I added two more babies, and my world still felt consumed by autism.

I tried to straddle both worlds but felt a sense of belonging in the special needs one and a fish out of water in the typical one.

All I wanted was to be able to talk to people. To socialize. To not be isolated. To sit down. To not watch from afar.

To leave home. To travel. To be able to talk with a group of people.

To live one day without the emotional weight of life long care.

To sit down in my living room and read a book without fear of my 8 year old son running out the front door or putting a phone cord in his mouth.

To stand in the driveway and talk to a neighbor without Cooper running outside naked, pulling on my arm and dropping to the ground, screaming and self injuring until I agreed to go inside.

I longed to go on a camping trip and not be isolated in the camper. Or at a party and not sitting in the car. Or at a park, wandering the perimeter.

I wished I didn’t have to send my other son with grandparents and friends to experience the world.

And now it’s happened. After 8 years.

We’ve figured out what works for our son. A combination of therapies and medications.

The change and improvements are unbelievable.

This is it. It’s happening.

I don’t have to watch him like a hawk. I don’t have to hold onto him all the time.

He will sit and wait. He is calmer. He is happier. This is what I dreamed of.

We can go to stores, visit friends, go for walks and sit down in the evenings. Yes, we still have struggles but we are finally moving in the right direction.

It feels strange. I want to say it feels good but it’s so new.

And, I have not bounced back.

In a way I feel naked. I feel like my cloak of special needs mom is gone.

I can socialize. I can stop and talk.

Except, I don’t know how. I don’t know how to relax. Or make idle chit-chat.

I find myself sneaking away to find Cooper.

Going in the house with the excuse to check on him…knowing he is fine…but relishing in the calm chaos that is him.

Lining up books, stimming, and dancing to Barney.

Jamie peeking his head in…’Are you going to come out and talk?’

A quick smile in return with a big ‘yes.’

To the special needs mom who is lost…I understand.

It’s been 8 years of chaos, longing for peace. Longing for a moment to stand still and take a breath.

And now that I can I realize that I don’t have anything to say. I don’t know how to stand still.

I’ve lived in the upside down, inside out world of autism so long that I don’t know how to just be. `

I need to figure out who I am again.

To learn more about our journey with medication click HERE.

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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 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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