Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Am Ashamed

I am not a perfect parent. Far from it. I don't claim to be anything close. For a long time now, I have struggled and tried to overcome a serious flaw in my parenting. Yelling. I will not go into how it started, or how I became this way because frankly it doesn't matter. What I will say is that it is a terrible way to be with the kids. My tone is strong. My voice is brash. I don't mean it to be, but that is the way I have always been. I don't even need to yell to get my point across. I am strong, and controlling, and somewhat domineering. And I wish that I wasn't. In the last couple years I have been fighting this tendency in me. Many days I win. Some days I don't.

I thought there was no worse feeling in the world than making my child cry. There is something worse. When you go to yell and your child cringes away from you. Ever so slightly. Waiting for the eruption. I can't even begin to tell you the shame in that. I want my children to respect me. But I don't want them to fear me. Those are two very different things that too many people lump together. 

Andrew has an amazing memory. Amazing. And it is a great thing. But not in these instances. His body has an immediate and uncontrolled reaction when he sees my old pattern of anger surfacing. His eyes squint. His body cowers back in defense. Fear. You can see it. And it has been heartbreaking for me to realize in the last couple years. No matter if I stop myself at the last moment from reliving old patterns, he still has the same reaction. Waiting for me to explode. And it hurts me to my soul. It is the constant reminder that I need to keep trying to succeed in this battle within myself. I have to.

I am still trying to learn ways to control my outbursts. I am better than I used to be. But it is a constant struggle. It is like a button is pressed to start a chain reaction. I have a small window of time to break the code, and I am fighting within myself to find the right remedy to stop the countdown. I haven't found the perfect kill code yet. I am sure there isn't any one formula.

I can tell you that I am much better at beating the clock if I engage in steady exercise, get decent sleep (yeah, I am laughing at that one), and most of all, walk away. I don't need to win the battles if it takes me to that place I don't want to be. It is not about winning. It is about helping my kids get through the battles with as much understanding and as little scars as possible.

I won't give up. I will become the mom I desperately want to be. The mom I need to be. I have a choice. I can choose to fight the urge to react with every fiber of my being, or I can give into my unhealthy pattern.

I am not controlled by my past. 

None of us are. 

We choose. 

And I choose to change. 

So that one day, I won't see that look on my kids face. Ever again. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do Unto Others........

What is it about going shopping that turns people into insensitive animals?? I mean really, I want to know. It is like all of a sudden some people think it is an excuse to be an impatient, rude, disrespecting jerk. Costco is by far one of the worst places for this bad behavior. It's like they are in the race of their life. Being timed as they try to throw everything they need in massive carts with no care or concern of others around them. Especially not my kids.

Today at Costco, I encountered the rudest person yet. Drew was standing near me looking at the DVDs and a man came rushing through the aisle with his shopping cart. He yelled "move it kid" and I had to grab Drew out of the way to keep him from getting run down. Keep in mind that Andrew's back was turned to the man, and his full arm cast was completely visible to him. 

Usually I ignore these people who obviously don't have even a speck of courtesy as a fellow human being, but this time I snapped. Once Drew was safely out of harms way I loudly told the man not to talk to my son that way. He replied "I just said move kid". I replied angrily "did it occur to you that maybe he didn't hear you, and even if he had, you were moving so fast he wouldn't have even had time to move out of the way?!" "What is the matter with you?" "Be a human being!" He shrugged and said a quick sorry and started to walk away. As he shuffled off , I said "my son can't talk, and can't comprehend speech easily. So you saying something when his back is to you is completely unproductive."

This has nothing to do with Autism. This is about the society we live in. People have lost their decency. Their basic human nature. They have become entitled, and elitist, and have forgotten how to have any respect for each other. Frankly, I am sick of it. My kid doesn't need special treatment. He didn't know Andrew is Autistic. But I am pretty sure he could clearly see he was a human child. Not a dog. 

This is becoming more and more common. What happened to being kind? Treating others how we would want to be treated? It is a sad world we live in when encountering a friendly face is a rare occurence. It is sad when we are pleasantly surprised when someone holds the door for us instead of letting it slam in our faces. 

One reason I am grateful for Autism is that I have learned to be more compassionate, and kind, and patient with others. I have learned to slow down and see what is going on around me. To see people as people, not as inconveniences. 

Today reminded me that I never want to be like that man. I don't want to rush through life so fast that I miss the insignificant moments. The random conversations with the person behind me in line. The smile I get when I wave a thank you when someone lets in their lane of traffic. The people I meet that I never would have had I not taken a moment to say hello or give them a compliment on their scarf. 

No matter what you are going through in life, there is no excuse for mistreating a stranger. Be kind. Be patient. Be understanding. And above all, don't run people over with shopping carts.