It all started with a New Year’s resolution. A few years ago, I was the young, bright-eyed mother of two boys – one newly born and one barely two. I also had a picture in my head of what I thought I should be as a mother.
On this particular New Year’s eve, I decided to pick one goal to help me achieve my dream of parenting perfection: No more food from a box or can. That’s right, if I wanted mashed potatoes, it was time to start peeling. I would only buy fresh produce to wash, chop, and cook myself. Not only was I going to cook these fabulous meals every day, I would do it after coming home from a full time job as a teacher.
I kept this going for about 4 months. We had some pretty amazing meals. Somewhere around April my husband came into the kitchen to find me preparing the nightly meal with tears streaming down my face. Dinner was coming later and later. I was exhausted from trying to do it all. More than that, feeling the whole weight of the housework, meal preparation, taking care of beautiful little boys, and a full time career. I was devastated! I am not one for woman stereotypes, believe me,yet I could not get that whole “Leave It To Beaver” fantasy out of my head. I wanted to be the perfect mom and wife, and I was slowly killing myself trying to accomplish it.
So, women, why do we do this to ourselves? I have a theory that it all boils down to value. We place value on ourselves for what we can do, how our children behave, and how our husband treats us. That is dangerous territory right there! The moment my kids act up in the store or are in public looking less than pristine, I feel embarrassed, that people will think I am a terrible mother. When my house is messy and I am living out of laundry baskets to survive, I hide away, not inviting anyone in to my home; I am too ashamed. If someone is critical of my cooking, children, husband, housekeeping, dress, hair, make up, I feel rejected and worthless.
Now imagine how this is impacted even more with the unpredictability of a child with autism.
This is why I am writing this blog – to share with you a little secret: you are not alone!
If there is one thing I have learned from raising three boys (with one on the spectrum) is the relief in knowing that I am not the only person out there that goes to bed with a sink full of dishes or a laundry basket of unfolded clothes. Sometimes dinner is the quickest meal I can find, not the most fancy or organic. Being honest with myself and others takes a huge weight off my shoulders. Suddenly, I do not have to keep up appearances anymore. I can be just me.
As you read my blog, my friend, I pray you find encouragement, hope, and a knowledge that you are not alone.