“You are so strong.”
If I had a dollar for every time someone has said that to me, I’d have enough money to pay for ABA Therapy…… out of pocket. If you aren’t a special needs mom that might not make sense to you, but trust me, it is A LOT of money.
I first started hearing it when I got divorced. Then even more once my son was diagnosed with Autism.
A single mom to a special need’s child.
I get it – It sounds strong.
Here is the thing though…
Strong implies that I had a choice, but I didn’t get any choices here.
I could not stay in my marriage, but I didn’t want to be divorced.
I love my son more than life itself, but I didn’t want to be a special needs mom.
I didn’t want to do it on my own.
I didn’t want any of it.
When the doctor came in and told me that my baby had autism, it wasn’t like I could just say…
“Oh no thank you, I cannot do that.”
I am not strong.
I am not brave.
I am none of the things you think, really, I am not.
I know people say these things to be nice, but honestly, it just makes me feel like a fraud.
I feel like a fraud because if you saw me, like really saw me, you wouldn’t think I was strong at all.
You might see me bouncing from therapy to therapy, but you don’t see me crying in the car between sessions.
You might see me cheerfully heading to an IEP meeting, all smiles, but you don’t see me breakdown in the bathroom of my office when it is over.
You might see me doing a million fun things with my kiddo, but you don’t see that I lay awake every night wondering if it’s enough.
The truth is, I am not strong.
I am scared.
I am so scared that, sometimes, it feels like I can’t breathe.
I am scared that I am not doing the right thing for my baby.
I am scared that I am failing him.
I am scared for what his life will look like.
I am scared for what my life will look like.
I am a mom to a boy without a voice.
A boy who needs me to fight for him because he can’t do it on his own.
A boy who needs me to fight for him because I am the only one who can.
A boy who might need me to fight for him forever, and that is okay.
I love my life. I love my son and I wouldn’t change anything about him.
It’s not easy. It never has been, and it probably never will be.
I am okay with that, but I am human.
I am many things.
I am a fighter.
I am an advocate.
I am the giver of tickles and bedtime kisses.
The reader of stories.
The driver of car rides.
Every morning I get up. I go to work. I take care of my boy. I study autism. I research every treatment option there is. I find other moms, who have been where I am, and I ask them for help.
I don’t do these things because I am strong, I do them because I am a mom.
I do them because my boy needs me to.
I might not always feel strong, but I would move mountains for that kid.
If you’re reading this and you’re like me, I am here to tell you that it is okay if you don’t feel strong.
It is okay if you cry in the car.
It is okay if you hide in the bathroom, so that no one sees you breakdown.
It is okay if you feel sad.
It is okay if you feel angry.
It is okay if you feel broken.
It is okay if you use up all the strength you have, just to look strong to the rest of the world.
You might not be strong, but you are enough.
We are enough.