Sometimes I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder. Like I’m a “martyr”.
How could anyone with “regular” kids possibly know what I go through? All those other normal moms of normal kids have it so easy. They don’t understand how difficult my world is.
I’m beginning to see that may not be true.
I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been walking around, subconsciously putting myself above others because I have a child with a disability.
It shouldn’t be that way. How did I get that way?
The fact of the matter is, we all have challenges. We all have difficulties. No one is the same and neither are our obstacles.
Just because Toby has autism, doesn’t mean that my trials are more difficult than anyone elses. All kids have their own different personalities and issues. Even if a parent has healthy, neurotypical children, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else in their life that is equally as difficult as having a child on the spectrum.
I shouldn’t feel like my trials, although they are hard to me, are worse than anyone else’s. My life is actually full of blessings and wonderful things. Some of which I wouldn’t even have if it weren’t for Toby’s autism. There are good friends I would never have made. Empathy I never would have developed. Growth I never would have had.
I also know it could be so much harder. Despite Toby’s autism, he will still likely be an independent adult. He can learn to do most things for himself. He won’t need to be in a “facility”, or need constant care. His mind is perfect, just wired differently.
Toby is here, in my arms. Many parents cannot say the same for their child.
It’s time for me to stop comparing trials. Everyone has a battle, a struggle, or a weight on their shoulders. There is no need to hold my head any higher than anyone else’s.
I deal with what I am given. Just like everyone else.
Everyone has their unique set of challenges. The set of challenges we are given, are hard to us. They are specifically designed to mold us into the person we are meant to be.
I admit, I thought that having a child with autism would help me learn to be less self-centered. Now I think I’ve just become a different kind of self-centered: My child and his disability aren’t the most important thing in the world. It should be important in my world, but there is no reason for me to believe (however subconsciously) that everyone should have sympathy for my family, or that they know nothing of struggle and despair.
This realization has a lot to do with a phone call.
My sweet, patient mom, who has done nothing but be there for me through every hard time in my life, called me. I spent so much time venting and complaining to her that she couldn’t get a word in. I quickly said goodbye and hung up when I had another colossal mess to clean up and yet another time out to give. The next day, she called me. I was too “busy” to pick up. The next day, I finally called her back. For three days she had been trying to tell me that she had received some very bad medical news about my aging grandmother, her mother. My grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimers, and I was too focused on my own troubles to hear her.
Of all people, the woman who has been the most constant source of support and love in my life, and I couldn’t even take the time to hear her.
It seems clear now that my world needs just a little less “I” and a little more “We”. We are all in this together. Whether we are connected by autism or depression or family trouble or loss or whatever difficulty; we are all universally connected by struggle and pain.
We all have things to deal with. Let’s focus on how we can help each other. Not who has it worse.
And I say that, adamantly, to myself. I must’ve turned inward somewhere along our autism journey.
Now it’s time to turn outward.