I am writing this from a bar, currently drinking a beer before 1 pm and eating a veggie burger after downing a bowl of popcorn (that I’m sure was saturated with real butter and a ton of salt-i know, living on the edge). I keep thinking, when did I become such a grown-up? So uptight? I used to do this all the time without much thought. I would come to the bar with my laptop in college with no intention of writing. Just drinking carefree, spending way too much on tab beer and waking up the next day with just a slight headache. No real worries. No real agenda. No toddler slapping me in my face to wake up. It’s weird. I have spent three years trying to maneuver motherhood that I forgot about what I used to enjoy without the immense amount of mom guilt that seems to follow. And here’s another secret that I’ve kept to myself since feeling it… I miss the life I had before motherhood.
Motherhood is beautiful, and then there’s this otherside.
Now, I’m not negating the amount of joy and love I’ve felt since having Jude. I love him dearly. In fact, I feel like you only get a handful of soulmates in your life. If you’re lucky, you get to meet all of them in one lifetime. Jude is my soulmate, best friend, teacher, and Sonshine. With all that being said, I miss what it feels like to be in a moment without worrying about another mini human. I miss not being depended on.
Sometimes when I laugh away from Jude, In the back of my mind I’m wondering if he’s okay. If he’s headbanging or having a sensory meltdown that the person watching him is not equipped to deal with. I wonder if he’s napped for too long, or if he’s been fixated on that damn iPad for much longer than I would allow screen time. And when I’m finally on a break out with friends etc., I am so exhausted that I keep thinking and calculating how much sleep I’ll be able to get if I leave by X time.
I don’t want to be written off as ungrateful. I know I am blessed to have such a beautiful gift. To be a mother. BUT I miss being ignorant of what was on the other side of the grass. When I really think of that time before Jude, I know I wasn’t as happy or carefree as I remember being. I just miss being selfish. There I said it!
You’ll think, “Whats is my problem? Did I become a mother and have these children just to yearn for my old life?! I need to get a grip!”
Now, all my decisions impact not only myself but Jude. I’m scared to not only mess up my life but to mess his life up too. I wonder what he’ll remember as he gets older. What moments will he interpret and misconstrue that will land him in years of therapy. And then when I think of him in the future, I can’t help but wonder if he will be verbal or will he grow up to be an adult who has yet to have a verbal conversation.
My life is now revolved around Jude. Autism. Daily graphs. Aba therapy. occupational therapy. physical therapy. IEP’s. and what I hated most about growing up when growing up… routine.
I struggle so much with routine. ORDER. It’s one of those things where if you have it in you, you have no problem keeping it and if you don’t, you struggle to maintain it. If you have a child on the spectrum, you’ll know your days are filled with order/ routine. Although predictability is reassuring at times, I feel like I’m in a safe space to admit that sometimes I get so… bored.
I wake up, do the routine of things, then complain to myself on how exhausted I am throughout the day. Once bedtime comes, all of a sudden I’m wide awake and find anything but responsibilities to take care of. Sure, there’s clean laundry needed to be folded and put away. dirty laundry waiting to be washed. There are dishes in the sink, a fridge that needs to wipe down from the last spill of leftovers, and toys EVERYWHERE. I just can’t seem to find myself to do it some nights.
Your child doesn’t need a perfect mom. They need a happy mom.
What I guess I’m trying to say is do not forget about yourself. That old you may be long behind you and it’s okay to admit you miss her. You may be grieving her for a long time, or for the rest of your life. But shes still you, just more tamed of course. I encourage you to go out, do something you did before your child or autism diagnosis. And most importantly, remain in that moment. Your child doesn’t need a perfect mom. They need a happy mom.