Black woman sitting on a couch with her head on her hand while her children run past her.

Here’s to the Mums of Autistic Kids4 min read

I cannot speak for fathers, but being a mother is hard work.  It’s not like it is in the movies or the adver­tise­ments on TV.  The preg­nancy books and ‘preparing for moth­er­hood’ books are filled with idyllic photos of mothers beaming with their off­spring; all of them clean with brushed hair and sparkling teeth.  New mothers holding their new­borns with pal­pable ado­ra­tion towards their child.  Not a hint of worry or stress on their per­fect com­plex­ions.

Well, it’s not like that.  Any of it.  Don’t get me wrong; I love being a mother.  I love my child more than any­thing in the world, but don’t think for a second that our family snap­shot resem­bles any­thing like what was adver­tised pre-birth. 

I don’t think too many fam­i­lies do in reality, par­tic­u­larly those with young chil­dren.  I con­sider it a win if I am able to brush my hair AND my teeth in the same day.  My house gen­er­ally looks like a goat has wan­dered in and exploded, and I only get to the dish­washer every third day when we’ve started to run out of clean plates.  But my child is always clean, well-fed, and well-loved.

I didn’t know that I was autistic before I had my son.  I didn’t know how over­whelming and trig­gering raising a child–especially an autistic child–would be: the sen­sory bom­bard­ment on top of the sleep­less nights, and the con­stant stum­bling in the dark that is learning how to be a first-time parent.  I felt woe­fully unpre­pared and out of my depth, des­per­ately treading water and trying to keep my head above the sur­face.

When my son was born, and I first held him in my arms, I expected to be flooded with over­whelming love for him.  When I didn’t instantly feel it, I felt like there was some­thing wrong with me.  Why didn’t I instantly love him?  Why didn’t I feel a cosmic con­nec­tion as soon as I looked at his tiny face?

At that time I didn’t know that this is quite common among autistic women.

I had read all of the books and had pre­pared myself for becoming a mother, but was not pre­pared for how being a mother would be in reality.

A lot of autistic mothers that I know struggle with sim­ilar issues; the over­whelm, lack of sleep (my son only sleeps for 4 out of every 24 hours), the con­stant phys­ical con­tact and sen­sory over­load that comes with it, and the con­stant demands that are put upon us with which we gen­er­ally have to comply.  Trying to con­trol and abate our own melt­downs while steering our chil­dren through theirs, and having to juggle our own needs along­side our child’s needs is no small feat.

It’s a tough job; one that we love and are proud to do, but some­times I think that us autistic mums need to get the recog­ni­tion for what we are going through.

So here’s to the mums who are strug­gling to get through bed­times.

Here’s to the mums who haven’t brushed their hair for three days.

Here’s to the mums who do their best but never feel good enough.

Here’s to the mums who are hiding in the bath­room to get a few moments’ peace.

Here’s to the mums who have been counting down the min­utes to bed­time since 2pm.

Here’s to the mums who are drinking wine out of a sippy cup because all of the glasses are dirty, and you haven’t had a chance to wash up.

Here’s to the mums who are exhausted but keep going because they have to.

Here’s to the mums who have been using dry shampoo for the past week.

Here’s to the mums who keep smiling even though they are crying inside.

Here’s to the mums who are up at mid­night making their child’s sci­ence project the night before it is due because their child forgot about it.

Here’s to the mums who just want to give up but keep sol­diering on.

Here’s to the mums who go without even the most basic things so that their chil­dren can have the things that make them happy.

Here’s to the mums who stay in their pyjamas all day because being com­fort­able is one of the few pre­cious gifts you can give your­self when you’re staying at home all day.

Here’s to the mums who are just sur­viving: You are not alone.

We all want to give up some­times, to get in the car with your best friend and do a ‘Thelma and Louise.’  We all want to crawl under the blanket and be left alone for just a while.  We all want to make it all stop some­times, to press the ‘pause’ button on reality.  To run off to a hotel for a good night’s sleep where no one will touch you.

You’re not dam­aged and you don’t have any­thing wrong with you.  I think these are nat­ural thoughts of most mothers at some point.

You’re doing a great job.  Stay strong and make sure you find some time to your­self for self-care and bat­tery recharging.

You got this.

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you!!! I com­pletely relate!!! You’re awe­some for your hon­esty … “Wine out of a sippy cup!”. Love it! What a hilar­ious and beau­tiful post. Really needed this today! And yes, I’m still in my PJs too! 😉

    1. Author

      Thank you <3

  2. Aside from per­sonal guilt at my blood moth­er’s mar­tyrdom. I’m proud of you for keeping this bal­anced being Autistic your­self. Because it’s the out­side world not that of those with autism like you and me who DON’T under­stand how hard it is. As Autistic indi­vid­uals we are so used to being bom­barded by Martyr Moms espe­cially the boys whom are often lost between the cracks of the “poor mes”

    Instead of that, you wrote a bal­anced and phe­nom­enal article that instead of making autistic boys and chil­dren hate and want to kill them­selves like is do often common , you went against that stereo­typ­ical norm of subtle hate towards chil­dren, and instead wrote an uplifting beau­tiful and formal article that makes everyone feel valid.

    Fir years I’ve seen so many shit people try to claim they care about their chil­dren but instead of taking respon­si­bility they glo­ri­fied giving up and aban­doning their babies. So tonight this autistic sur­vivor of trauma who is still very much a pup inside, raises his glass to you and all of the moms who put in the work, while still under­standing that we can SEE you, HEAR you and will still read this one day.

    Because deep down we always know the truth if this was pal­pable to me it’s some­thing you can share with your son some day without guilt and instead enjoy how far you have BOTH come in empathy.

    Keep up the great work and never give up.

    1. Author

      Thank you so so much — your com­ment touched my heart as, like you, I have seen so many par­ents cel­e­brating their misery instead of cher­ishing the won­derful gift that they’ve been given.
      I’m hoping to shine a light into the dark­ness that is a lack of under­standing and com­pas­sion.
      Thank you again 🙂 x

  3. Oh my gosh I’m going to cry 😂😭😂 all those phrases. Totally describes me and my first few days home with my kid. Thank you thank you. I now realize I was on sen­sory over­load as a new parent. Change-confusion-no Guide. I aas saying the rea­sons but people just blew them off as excuses. Didn’t see that those expe­ri­ences were describing my autistic parent self. Didn’t have the “emo­tional hap­pi­ness” but one of exhaus­tion. My hus­band couldn’t stay with me day 2 overnight in the hos­pital and I was a com­plete mess. Meltdown levels holding a new­born strug­gling to breast­feed with no nurses even to help. There are count­less other things, the biggest when I came to the real­iza­tion how inten­tional par­enting was. Holy moly I went into a serious focus about making sure I did all the good things.
    I needed this then and now.

    Fast for­ward 3 years later now with my tod­dler who finally was acknowl­edged autistic pri­mary on his IEP, get­ting the help he needs and the real­iza­tion I am autistic too…(self diag­nosis until I get see the right doc­tors.)

    🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰

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