Motherhood is Like an Exclusive Club
Never was there a club I wanted to be in more, and I made sure that everyone knew it.
Motherhood is like an exclusive club. And if a positive pregnancy test or dried ink on adoption papers secures your membership, then it is the experiences that we encounter as our children grow and develop that keep our membership valid.
Never was there a club I wanted to be in more, and I made sure that everyone knew it. I shared stories of my very typical pregnancy, my traumatic delivery, and those first few exhausting months of life with a newborn with anyone who would listen. In the beginning, I was speaking the same language as other mothers. My stories resembled those of so many other women I knew. But then something changed. Subtly at first.
Playgroups turned to therapy sessions. Preschool turned to special education. Missed milestones turned to worry. With each realization that my son was different, something pulled, or maybe even pushed us out of the exclusive club.
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I tried, desperately at first, to blend in with our peers. Maybe even longer than I should have. I would watch other mothers sip coffee, sitting or standing together at a park or a playdate, sharing stories. They would laugh about the darndest things their kids did or said. Meanwhile, I would be chasing my toddler, sweating, climbing through tunnels or sliding down slides, watching those seemingly perfect mothers with the seemingly perfect children, longing to be one of them.
Of course, like life, it was not all perfect. Many times, the other mothers would commiserate about the hard parts of motherhood too. But even their struggles I could not relate to. They’d vent about their kid’s nonstop chatter, hearing “mommy” a hundred times a day or the never-ending demands to play ball or ride their trikes.
I tried fitting in. I tried telling my stories. But when I spoke about milestones missed, the worry that was eating me alive, they couldn’t relate. They didn’t know how to respond to me, so they were either silent or they downplayed my worry because that’s what friends do. I felt like an imposter, eventually staying silent myself, trying to blend in so I could stay longer.
I could not figure out what I was feeling. Anger, jealousy, sadness, desperation to fit in. I mean, these women were my friends, our kids the same age. The dreams of our babies growing up side-by-side were still fresh in my mind. We were never excluded, Cooper and I, never once. But we were not necessarily included either.
As I cycled through the emotions of being different, I eventually realized it was me, not them. They didn’t push me out. I left on my own.
Years later, I would go on to form my own club. One with other mothers like me who watched their babies grow up in therapy waiting rooms and strapped on armor every morning ready for battle.
These mothers so full of hope that if you stripped it all away, the clothes, skin and bones, there would be nothing left but love for a child.
These mothers saved me countless times over the years. They got me up off the floor, they dried my tears, and they reminded me that being different is not a death sentence.
We get to keep living, it’s just a different life than the one we originally imagined.
This is an excerpt from my book, Forever Boy, A Mother’s Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy. It’s available on Amazon!
You are not alone on this journey.
One of the most common themes I see in the comments on my posts is...
I feel so alone.
Often their child has just been diagnosed. Or autism is suspected. But there is also a loneliness that comes in the middle too. When a parent is just trying to figure this parenting autism life out.
If you feel alone, I'd like to invite you to come join my supporter group on Facebook. It's called Coop's Troops and it's an online support community.
You can join a zoom, ask a question, give support, meet a friend, and more. You can see more of my family, ask me a question, and get to know us better.
There is a lot more too. It's a community really. One where you can be seen and never have to say you are sorry.
Come join us. Try it out for a month. I'd love to get to know you.
Register now for the 2023 Care for the Caregiver Retreat.
This two-day event will include two full days of speakers and breakout sessions on Saturday, April 29 and April 30, 2023, at the Sheraton in Woodbury, Minnesota. Day one will feature continental breakfast, lunch, breakout sessions, semiprivate meet and greet with Kate, and keynote speaker, Dr. Mary Barbera. Day two, will consist of brunch, keynote speaker, Adrian Wood, giveaways, and more in beautiful and historic Stillwater, Minnesota.
I’m about to start my busy travel season friends! To learn more and register for the events below, CLICK HERE.
Finding Joy in Caregiving, Charlotte, North Carolina
March 22 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Finding Cooper’s Voice Sharing a Parent’s Journey, New Prague, MN
April 18 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Mother’s Day Retreat and Conference 2023, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
April 21 - April 23
Els for Autism Keynote Speaker, Jupiter Florida
May 19 @ 5:00 pm
Thank you so much for being here.
Kate and Cooper