Updated: Mar 31, 2020
The thing that I vowed to protect her from I started to become.
I’ve discussed on many occasions how when Parker was diagnosed with autism, I went through an array of emotions that were like the stages of grief. It was a long road filled with heartache, worry and guilt tripping. Once I finally surpassed these emotions and entered the final stage, or acceptance if you will, something in me changed. I went from being “the crying, oh no what will Parker do without me” momma to “defender of everything and anything parker'' the momma that in any given moment wouldn’t hesitate to turn into momma bear.
It was safe to say I went from one spectrum to another. I also vowed to myself that I would find a way for Parker to do anything any other child could do and even though her disability would be challenging it wouldn’t stop us. I pushed myself, my husband, and Parker in anything I felt would benefit her. At the same time I was being “defender of Parker '' other things started to change. Things I didn’t notice until people pointed them out to me. I started excusing certain behaviors, such as tantrums. Granted, at the time I couldn’t tell you the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, but I knew when Parker was acting out for not getting a toy versus when she was tired, hungry or overstimulated.
I unconsciously started doing things for Parker that she had previously done with no difficulty, such as pulling her pants up after she used the restroom or washing her hands for her. I started pushing people away because I felt no one understood and no one ever would. Everyone was just on the outside looking in and no one could care for Parker like I could. My whole life revolved around how I could make Parker’s life easier. It all came to a boil when my husband questioned me about helping Parker eat her tacos. He stated she is very capable of feeding herself and if taught she could eat her tacos correctly too.
This clearly hit a nerve. I instantly went into defensive mode and all I heard was “judgment”, which isn’t what he was trying to do. A friend once told me if someone gets mad at a comment it’s because it rings with some truth. I was in denial about how much I had been excusing and doing for Parker but when my husband pointed it out it made it “real” because he wasn’t on the outside looking in, he wasn’t an outsider.
I wasn’t ready to face that truth. If I faced that truth, I had to admit to myself that I was becoming my child's disability.
The thing that I vowed to protect her from I started to become. Of course, I’m saying this as though I had an epiphany or some type of “aha” moment after a taco spat with my husband, but I didn’t. My aha moment came when Parker refused to put on her socks. Admittedly, a task I started to take on knowing she was capable of doing it. A simple “put your socks on Parker '' turned into a huge ordeal. A “screaming, biting, spitting, I’m just not giving in” ordeal. I started to see what other people had been seeing.
It was a hard pill to swallow. I had done some major damage. Almost two years worth to be exact. I had to do some self-reflecting before I could start implementing anything with Parker. Slowly but surely I started to gain control again. I won’t lie and say this was an easy feat (for me or Parker). Old habits aren’t corrected overnight. Sometimes I slip because it’s just easy to do , but I’m only human. I’m not striving for perfection, I’m striving to be a better momma for Parker.