Thursday, April 3, 2014

Let’s just have an “awareness” day

This post is dedicated to Roger. He has been moaning at me to write a blog post, in what is rapidly becoming a ‘post-free wasteland’. I could go into the ‘in’s-and-out’s’ of why this is happening, but frankly, the reasons are boring and not worth the Internet space it will be congesting.

(In an attempt at disclosure, please let it be noted that I am using alcohol as anti-migraine medication. Nothing else is working, so hey… let’s give this a go).

Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day. In fact, the whole of April is Autism Awareness month. As such, there has been a plethora of Autism articles and TV documentaries.

Today, I had to pick-up my Autistic son from school because he was having a difficult day with numerous meltdowns.

It could have been the case, that I could have holed up in my home, with my ‘anti-migraine’ medication and lamented on how my life is shit and every parent who has ever had a ‘neuro-typical’, (shudder, I still hate that word), kid, is damn lucky.

Then I stop myself.

The fact is, that this ‘parent’ bashing is just not on. When my son was diagnosed as Autistic, I didn’t get a prescription for a harder life. I wasn’t allocated a ‘ton-more-of-extra-crap’ with his paperwork. All that happened is that he could get more help when I wasn’t around.

That’s not to say my life was hard. Those five years from birth to diagnosis weren’t a walk in the park. However, my son was talking. My son could walk. My son had all his senses – even if they were working overtime most of the time. He was fed, loved and in a protective environment in a wealthy nation. My son’s quality of life was better than most.

His quality of life was more difficult than most of his peers, as he found the environment more confusing. He couldn’t understand why people were saying the words they were and his senses meant everything around him was like being in a loud 3-D surround sound cinema where they made you touch every textile on the planet.

Yet, I would still take his behaviours’ over most of his ‘neuro-typical’ (still hate that word) peers. At least D was consistent. I knew the Mall would cause issues. The swimming pool was a no-go. Giving him Banana was a recipe for disaster. He was predictable. He didn’t change his mind on a food/game/tv show/t-shirt because ‘Angelica’ down the road said “it was ‘lame’”. I knew how to stop his tantrums –usually remove the stimuli- unlike my fellow parent’s who were at a loss when the child freaked in the local supermarket. I HAD to understand how my child thought. I had to ‘step-up to the plate’ and ‘do-my-homework’ to understand my child. Consequently, my parenting skills were quickly taught. I wasn’t a better parent; I was just a parent who had to learn quicker.

It’s not as if my peers of ‘normal’ (still not any better) children have their issues. Parents usually have to worry about SAT exams and report cards. They have to worry about ‘extra-curricular’ activities and ensuring their child is challenged. They worry about their child fitting in and having friends. They have to console their child when their friends play ‘mind-games’. There is paying for college and moving-out.

The likelihood is, that I really don’t need to worry about any of that. D will probably not sit an exam. His report card is an IEP and we concentrate on more ‘life-skills’ than academic-scores. We don’t worry about taking him to after-school clubs, because in his head school finishes at the bell. That’s not a battle I am prepared to fight at the moment. He doesn’t care what others’ think, so there won’t be any of that. As for college and living independently, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. However, the percentage of autistic children living independently is usually very small. I am lucky that I get to have my quirky, cool and fun kid and home for longer.

My life isn’t any worse, just unique. When my friends say, “your life must be tough”, I respond, “it’s just different”.

I began thinking that really we should stop this competition between parents on “how hard your life is…” When we hear a kid screaming in the shopping aisle that he wants to push the trolley –as I saw today-, we shouldn’t, as parent’s judge that mother/father/what-ever because their child is having a difficult day. Until we have lived a minute in their shoes, then frankly we shouldn’t judge. We should be aware of their ‘unique’ struggles.

As I progress from the wine to the washing-up, I begin thinking that really this statement should be more ‘blanketing’. You don’t have to have children to have your own struggles. People across the world have to deal with being sick. They have to deal with their loved-ones being ill. Everyone, no matter age, sex, religion, family-setup, is not immune to illness, death and taxes. There is poverty, sickness and loss everywhere and we shouldn’t judge people on a sliding scale to ourselves. This isn’t a competition folks, where we are in it to win, ‘who has the crappiest life’; Young, old and in-between; Male, female and those ‘in the middle’; Gay, straight, bi-sexual and trans-gender; Rich, poor and the families who get-by; Disabled and whole. We all have our own struggles. As I amend the adage. “If you have met one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism”, we should remember, that ‘when we have met one person, we have met one person’. We are all unique.

So, let’s stop with this ‘Awareness day/week/month/what-ever’. Why do we need a period of time to stop ourselves from blurting out whatever is spiteful in our mouths? Why do we have to be reminded to be thoughtful? How has it come to a point where we only think of others if our calendar tells us to?

We don’t need an “awareness day”. We need to just be aware.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Girl Love. There is a point to this post... I think.

Yes, it’s Friday. I have drunk a few glasses of wine and I am in the situation where I have no brain-to-mouth filter.

It’s valentines’ day, and as is usual given the day, it’s a day of professing your love or commiserating your lack of it on Social Media sites. It’s the day where we all validate our existence through the fact that someone out there loves us.

Really? We have a day dedicated to that? That’s a bit shit isn’t it? I mean, isn’t showing how much we love someone a 365 day affair? Why confine it to one day?

It’s also the day, where it seems to be a case of ‘girl loves boy’ and ‘boy loves girl’. I suppose in the scheme of things, I am not in a position where I should comment. After all the ‘love-of-my-life’ is in fact male. I have loved him for eighteen years, and I would like to think that through anything, we would still love each other (in some way) in eighteen years time.

Anyway, I drunkenly digress. I have just read a post by my friend Vanessa about ‘Girl Love’. It’s an old post, but the point she makes still stands.

‘Girl Love’ shouldn’t be a quagmire. ‘Girl Love’ only exists when the women involved love themselves first.

I have never been a ‘Girlie Girl’. I couldn’t understand it. What was with the emphasis on getting boys to like you? Why did I need to wear make-up? Why did I have to giggle and other people (namely girls) misfortune?

When I was about fourteen, a boy at my school professed his ‘love/like/crush’ on me. I was a geek, unconventional and a hair-cut which utilized a mixing bowl. (Not kidding on the last point). I made this poor boys life hell. I had so little self-confidence that I couldn’t believe anyone would like me. I listened to my friends (all girls), who convinced me that the only reason he liked me was the fact he wanted to play a joke.

I learnt from that experience. Boys, girls and frankly anyone wouldn’t love me if I didn’t like myself. I went on a journey full of ‘ups-and-downs’, which lasted over a decade, on loving and accepting myself.

That learning process has led me to some interesting discoveries.

 I am okay. I make mistakes, but generally, I get through life. That’s okay and I will take those odds. Making it through life is good enough for me. Everything else is just icing.

I have accepted who I am, even if society hasn’t. I am a complex person. I do not do the generic roles society has laid out for me and I know I am okay with that. I love women as much as men and frankly I can’t understand why the world doesn’t operate the same view. I will never be a super-model, high-earning, business focused woman who thinks everyone is out to get her. I am also not the 1950’s Stepford wife who feels her only role is to fulfill another person (mainly a man).

I can’t understand this bitchiness. Why do people have to be snide? Why do they think everyone has a different agenda? Why is it my role to make everyone like me? It has taken me a long while to realize that people only bitch out of insecurity. The phrase, “it’s not me, it’s them” when utilized too often is actually a reflection on yourself. People aren’t after me, my husband, my life. Why pretend on a false image when it’s only you that loses?

Girl love is okay.  It’s okay to like (and love or admire other women). Other women inspire us. They provide the foundation of a caring relationship. I have made no secret that my first real love was a woman. Why did I love her? She was unique, different and she was not afraid to show it. I loved her because she was showing me the person I wanted to be. I admire a lot of women and that’s because they are showing inner strengths to themselves. They are showing themselves without pretension or falseness. They are showing me how to be a better person and that’s a good thing.

I am not after your life. There is this underlying idea that if you are a women then everyone is out to get you. If you know a man, then they are after your job, pay and position. If you know a woman, then they are after your social standing, your partner and your life. Get over yourself! Really? Women have been the under-dogs for a long time that we have felt everyone is against us?
Trust me, we aren’t. I may like you. I may think your husband is great. I may admire the job you have, but trust me, I am no way wanting to replace my life with yours. I admire you. I know you got where you are with hard work. I know you have the family you have with love and devotion you have given. I know I can’t go and walk in and get it. Frankly, I love myself and I love my life. I wouldn’t want your life if it came up and bit me, because I love who I am and the decisions I HAVE made.

Okay, another glass of wine and a showing of ‘The Lego Movie’ trailer movie and I am distracted.

I suppose the point is, that you only get love when you love yourself. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that if there is one person you should send a Valentines’ card to, it’s should be yourself. Stop trying to break down my life with your insecurities. Realise that I am who I am and learn to love yourself a little bit more.

It might make all of our lives a little easier. Just be yourself.