Being Brave

Four years ago, my son was diagnosed with autism. He was three. It was scary and confusing and very lonely.

Four years ago, I started this blog. It brought me both relief and compassion as I learned with other parents how to understand and help my struggling child. I learned how to laugh and to cry at my mistakes and misunderstandings. I had found my tribe.

Then I stopped. It’s been nearly two years since I last posted and I’ve spent much of that time grappling with why. Busy with work. Busy with raising children.

Busy being afraid.

Two years ago, I posted something heartfelt, and it was received with heartless comments. Many a blogger friend had told me not to bother reading comments at all for that very reason, but my temptation was too strong. In retrospect, the comments paled in comparison to some my blogger peers had endured, but it was the first time I wasn’t received with open arms. It hurt because the negativity was directed towards my son. Strangers claimed that he should be institutionalized, that he was a danger to other children.

It scared me so much that I asked Scary Mommy to change the author name to Anonymous. Then I never looked at that post again, and I put my blog – my writing – to rest.

Two years went by.

Then this past December, something stirred within me. I was in my son’s first grade classroom, watching him present to his peers what autism is and that he has it.

At seven years old, my son is one of the bravest people I know.

A few weeks went went by, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to write, to share my son’s extraordinary story, but I wasn’t ready yet to let that fear go. It manifested itself into anger. Carrying the weight of all these stories wore me down; I found myself snapping at my friends, my coworkers, my students, my husband, my children – myself.

Then something extraordinary happened.

I attended my son’s annual IEP and was overwhelmed with pride at all the success stories his teacher and support staff shared. At one point, his social worker said, “He is already such an advocate for autism!”

It stopped me in my tracks. “Yes,” I said with a smile. “Yes, he certainly is.”

If my seven year-old son can be brave, so can I. It’s time for me to start advocating for him again.

Someone I greatly respect told me recently that I need to make writing a necessary part of my day. Treat it like taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Writing is an integral part of who you are as a person.

So I’m writing again. I can’t wait to tell you everything you’ve missed these last two years. From learning about his diagnosis to defending himself against a first grade fight club, I can’t wait to share how brave and beautiful my son is.

I can’t wait to share my story – the story of being his mother – with you.

Stay tuned.

Oh, and here’s the post that once scared me that I now proudly share: An Open Letter to my Son’s Preschool Class.

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