“My doctor says a child gets autism because it’s the mother’s fault of what she did when she was pregnant.” I will never forget those words that came through the phone one Friday afternoon standing in my kitchen. Seven years have gone by since that conversation and I still feel the sting.
A couple of months later, I was at a 4th of July party at that same friend’s house. My son began chasing another guest’s dog everywhere. No matter how much I chased him, he was determined to get that dog. He knocked over things and pushed people out of the way. The dog’s owner told me that my son should be put on a leash. I left the party immediately and wept for days.
For years, I didn’t want to go anywhere. I dreaded the judgment. I hated explaining. I was tired of apologizing. Trying over and over to have fun and failing. Signing up for the Kid’s 5K and him running across the field instead of on the track and having children and parents accuse him of cheating. Going to the family reunion and he ran off of a stage and jumped on me and I immediately got a black eye and my face blew up like a balloon. Birthday parties that resulted in meltdowns and everyone staring. Leaving events early. Paying entrance fees and turning back around. We even got kicked out of a church once.
BUT once in a while … an activity was ok. The people were nice, understanding or forgiving. They talked to us. They nodded. They smiled. They tried hard to communicate. We appreciated their efforts. We had fun sometimes and were surprised.
Due to various reasons (that’s another post), we hadn’t gone on vacation in twelve years. Michael and I went on our honeymoon in 2004 and we finally took our first one week vacation as a family to North Carolina in 2016. We tried too hard on the vacation to make up for lost time. There were tears and screaming but there were also glimmers of enjoyment.
I decided then and there that things needed to change. I decided that the only thing that was my fault is that I allowed narrow minded people to squelch my desire to find fun for my family.
So here we are …
Thank you for joining me on this journey.