I have to admit to a large portion of ambivalence about attending and speaking at this conference. I have visions of security guards accosting me for proof of my "aspie" credentials, or parents booing me for not following a gluten and casein-free diet for my family.
Maybe I'm an outlier, but the truth is, my family life doesn't seem so out of the ordinary. My boys fight like typical siblings. I spent hours in the car ferrying them to karate, ceramics, play rehearsal, hebrew school. We have homework wars. They constantly nag me about getting cable TV and pushing back their bedtimes.
They are happy and even when I have to make unpopular decisions (no, you cannot see that PG-13 movie, or no, thet video game is too violent) they know they are loved, accepted, cherished for who they are. They know I will be their staunchest advocate *and* the one who pushes them to do their best.
There is no one who knows them better than I do. Both because I am their mother and have watched them grow and thrive from their births, and because I can see the world through their eyes. I remember the acute pain and confusion of the social world of upper elementary and junior high school. I know the feeling of being just enough out of phase with the world to make life almost unbearable. I also understand the joys of an all-consuming interest.
I try not to roll my eyes at yet another conversation about manga and anime, remembering my obsession with all things Star Wars in my pre-teen and early teen years. Our newspaper ran a cartoon serial of the original movie and I dutifully clipped the comic strip from the paper every day and taped it up behind my closet door. It was especially important for me to get to the paper after we had returned from vacation so I could collect the whole weeks' strips before the papers were thrown out.
When P was small, our lives revolved around getting home in time to see "Thomas the Tank Engine". Thank goodness for VCRs with timers.
Maybe this would have seemed odd to me if I hadn't had my clear memories of needing sameness and predictability in my early life. Even before "AS" vocabulary entered our lives, we knew that P thrived on routine. Other babies could miss a nap time. Mine could not. No exceptions. Sorry.
This is the life I have. There is no second guessing or wishing it away. Is there sadness? Sometimes. The pain of watching P's friends abandon him in 4th and 5th grade re-awakened feelings of anziety and depression I though I had moved past. There are many times when P and I are at loggerheads--when our rigidity clashes head on and I turn into 'harpy-mom'. Not something I'm proud of. I know I need more time and personal space than most other moms. If I get overloaded, I can't parent effectively. My partner/spouse/main man provides me balance. His love and acceptance makes it easier to get through the hard days.
This is the life I have and this is the life I love.
Because I have accepted my boys, I have opened the door to accepting myself.
Warts and all.
(Figurative warts, not literal ones.)