1) You have been blogging for 2 1/2 months-although you aren't new to writing. You have posted for SPD network and About.com. What was the deciding factor that made you choose blogging?(if you'd like I will link to those posts-just send the links)
I always have enjoyed writing. In fact my mom will tell you that even when I was little and she punished me, I would write stories or poems about it while being banned to my room. Much to my mother’s chagrin, some of those poems were even published in a children's magazine. Let’s just say they didn’t always showcase her in a positive light!
Throughout the years writing as been something that I have gone back to, especially during rough times. When I divorced my first husband, I filled 2 journals. When I miscarried what would have been Jay’s twin… another journal. When we moved the whole family to Brazil for my current (the true love my life) husband’s job… 2 more.
So it sort of made sense that when I quit my job 3 months ago after a very emotional episode (I blogged about it in Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together http://www.blog.mamasturnnow.com/putting-the-puzzle-pieces-together/ ) that I would turn again to writing. But this time it is different. Now I write not just for myself… but for others. I also write for my son. I feel an incredible responsibility to be his voice. I only hope that I am doing him justice.
2) What is the most important thing you would want people to know about you? What is the craziest thing you have ever done? How has becoming a mother changed you? How has mothering a child with special needs changed you? What do you think about motherhood in general?
I lived in New York City for awhile where I studied acting at the American Musical Dramatic Academy. Then I did the whole starving actor thing. You know 1 bedroom apartment with 5 of us living in it. Those were some crazy times. We once even poured laundry detergent into the Lincoln Center Fountain. There were so many suds they had to turn it off for a week. You haven’t lived until you have seen rich people all dressed up for the opera dodging sud bubbles! Of course if my children were ever to find out I did these pranks I would deny it! Ha!
All the acting helped prepare me for my biggest and best role ever… being a mom. I really do think I was acting at first. I took on this whole June Clever attitude and wanted everything to be perfect. Include my children. So you can only image the surprise I had when Jay’s preschool teacher told us we should have him tested. Not my baby! Not my boy who was speaking complete sentences by the time he was a year old. So what that he never crawled and did not walk until he was 18 months old. Didn’t every child hide under their desk when a fire drill alarm went off? And did cutting with a pair of scissors or holding his crayon the right way really matter?
Of course we did have him tested and well… the rest is history. I actually thank God for that teacher now. Because of her we were able to start therapy right away and it made a huge difference. It also made me re-evaluate what being a mom really was.
I have learned so much from Jay and still continue to every day. Am I a good mom? Some days! And that is okay because I now know that no one is perfect!
3) What is the message or most important thing you would like people to get from your blog?
I want people to realize when they read my blog that although I have a child who has Autism, I am so much more than just an Autism mom. Autism doesn’t define me as a mom any more than it defines my child. Yes it is a HUGE part of our lives, but it is not my life. It took a while for me to get that, for me to realize that it is okay to want to be happy. I know that might sound strange, but it is true.
So I guess that is the message I would want readers to get… You can have an autistic child and still be happy! It is not always easy to do… but it is possible. But it is a conscious decision you have to make.
4) what is your favorite post so far- (I will link to the post) and why?
My favorite post I have written actually has nothing to do with Autism. It is called 10 Minutes of Bliss (http://www.blog.mamasturnnow.com/10-minutes-of-bliss/). I guess the reason it is my favorite is because it goes back to that point I made before about making the conscious effort to be happy and being able to really enjoy it when it happens. So often, especially as Autism parents, we get consumed with the day to day living. It is hard to feel blissful when your child is melting down or you are fighting with an insurance company that doesn’t want to pay for services anymore. But that is why appreciating those 10 minutes of bliss are even more important. Just reading the post again makes me cry because I can remember what that felt like. I wish I could say there have been more of those moments… but sadly no. But I am hopeful that there will be. And when they do come, I will embrace them and enjoy every second.
5) How has your experience with blogging and in meeting other bloggers been?
I have never felt as supported and understood as I have since I joined this autism bloggy community 2 ½ months ago. To be able to write something and then have someone respond saying they get it, they can relate, that I am not alone… that is just amazing. It makes me a little sad that I did not reach out sooner.
I always thought that I had things under control, support groups were for people who were weak and needed help. Besides, I believed that if I told others what really happened in our home, well they might have thought differently about us… about me! I now know what a disservice that kind of thinking was. There is nothing weak about seeking help, about admitting you need support. In fact it is the exact opposite. You have to be a very BRAVE person to put the truth out there for all to see. And to my surprise, no one judged me. All I have ever gotten was support and kudos! Like I said before, my only regret was not joining sooner!
6) What would you say to a parent new to diagnosis?
Go ahead and get mad, and go through all the other stages of grief, because in many ways you are grieving. You are grieving all your preconceived ideas and dreams of what your child was going to be. And that is okay, because the reality is that no child, whether they have a special need or not will ever live up to our dreams. Every child is their own person with their own life to live. Once you come to terms with that I think it helps you accept your child for who they are instead of what they could be. You start to see all the good instead of picking out all the bad. And even though there will be times when seeing that good will be hard… it is there.
And learn to laugh. I know it sounds like such a cliché … but it really is the best medicine.