I realized early on my son’s autism journey that I was going to have to become someone different.
I was always a planner. A person prepared and ever-ready to jump into action and solve unforeseen problems. In that way, this should have been an easy part of the journey for me. Except it was not. It was really really hard.
To be honest, nothing about this journey is easy. But, I have come to learn that it is better that way. It keeps me focused and alert. If things were easy then I could ease up. Lose focus. And then I would be unprepared. Too unprepared for this journey. Too unprepared for autism.
Learning to be an autism mom was a process. In the beginning I felt completely overwhelmed. Nowhere near the woman and mother I would need to be for this journey. To help push my son forward. To fight for my family. To survive.
I did not like feeling weak. Feeling out of control. I felt uneasy in those early days. Living each day with the knowledge that I was not strong enough. Patient enough. Faithful enough. Prepared enough. I was not enough to walk this journey.
That’s an empty feeling. And one I desperately needed to rid myself of.
But, where to begin?
I looked at all of the pieces of myself. And, I looked at all of the ways this journey would call on me. I searched for the place to start. The place to focus my efforts of becoming enough.
I told myself that strength and faith and courage would come with time. In that moment what I needed more than anything else was a plan. To be prepared. Informed. Ready.
So I did what always came naturally, I made a plan. I immersed myself in the planning. The scheduling. The rigidity and unrelenting nature of the treatment plan became my salvation.
People could call me weak. They could tell me to find faith. They could will me to be braver. But they could not tell me I did not have a plan.
The most important part of my journey to becoming and autism mom was accepting that so many things would be out of my control. Change and obstacles are constant on this journey. The journey is 30% planning, 60% adaptability and 10% dumb luck.
As I planned and adapted to obstacles I started to change. With each plan, and each obstacle, I grew stronger. And filled with strength I started to have faith that I could in fact walk this journey. And filled with strength and faith I felt the courage I needed to push forward.
And one day I woke up and realized that I was an autism mom. Prepared. Adaptable. Strong. Faithful. Courageous. Enough.
The truth is there is no “right” way to become something that you are not even sure you are “enough” to be. So just pick a place to start. And do not stop. Do not stop until you are enough. Because only you can define your own enough.
Now, I am an autism mom. I was an autism mom by definition the day my son was diagnosed (and earlier really). But it took a while for me to truly become an autism mom in the way I needed to be. The ways that really mattered.
I did not choose this journey, but I choose the way I respond to it. In the beginning, and still today. I choose to be enough. And for me, that is enough.