Tuesday, June 13, 2017

April 9th- Daily Autism Post- My Failures as a Wife and Mother

I think I’ve focused some on Dexter’s failures and struggles but not so much on mine. Part of me thought about not making a post like this because it’s not pretty for me. It’s nice when the world just looks at me as a dedicated, loving, competent mother. And wife for that matter.
But my goal in this project is making people aware of what life is like. I want an honest portrayal of our reality. Part of that honesty is that I fail. I don’t know anyone else who is married to an Aspie, so I have no one to compare notes with. I don’t know their struggles or failures. But I am very aware of my own.
Before understanding or even knowing what Asperger’s was, I just thought of me as outgoing and Shawn as introverted. I just needed to bring him out of his shell. So I forged ahead doing all of the things that you are "supposed to do” in life. I wanted a house, and three kids (it wasn’t supposed to be twins!!!), friends to go on couples dates with, etc… Shawn loves me and gave me everything I wanted. We have no regrets. We wouldn’t trade our kids for anything. But I spent years pushing Shawn to be “normal” and to break out of his introversion.
Now, years later, I’ve begun to understand how overwhelming this life we’ve created is. We have a big house, four kids, dogs, people coming and going, commitments and expectations that can’t be changed. I spent years of our younger life inadvertently telling Shawn that the way he feels, the way his brain works isn’t as preferable as mine. I’m the one who fits in better. The things I want are normal. Fit in, like me. You can learn to change to fit in.
This. This is why awareness is important. It’s not about making people fit into what society “should” be. Shawn was never broken. I was never a better kind of normal than he was. I don’t know how our life would be different if we’d known then what we know now. I wouldn’t wish to go back and not have kids because I love them. And Shawn lives for them. They are both is crazy and his peace in life. But I do know I would have respected his introversion and his unique way of thinking more. I wouldn’t have gone full steam ahead just to be normal and have the life everyone dreams about feeling he’d thank me for it in the end.
So… The bad... Shawn has been dealt quite the hand. For him, it probably feels like he’s constantly holding half the deck. While he agreed to keep taking cards, I know he’s holding everything I handed him and doing so because he loves me and has always been committed to my happiness.
The good…1. Although he doesn’t always feel like it, this man juggles parenting like a master. Kids first. Asperger’s second. He will not let them suffer because he struggles. 2. I am a better parent for Dexter because of what I’ve learned through my relationship with Shawn. I won’t make those mistakes again. 3. I’ve learned how to be a better wife. I’ve learned how not to push, how to see things from his side, how to be proactive about meeting his needs and protecting his sanity. I’ve found that I don’t want him always to have to ask for help or understanding, I want to give it to him freely. Doing that has made it easier for him to ask when he does want something. 4. I love him and value him more now than the day we got married because I get to see and understand a more authentic version of himself. I don’t love him for what he could be. Just who he is. 5. And most importantly, he has lovingly, but most definitely, humbled me. I’m pushy and outgoing, but that gives me no right to steer our marriage. My personality is not better or more desirable than his. He is likely nicer, smarter, calmer, and more open-minded than I am. He is also forgiving, doesn’t place blame, and never has mentioned how things could have been different.
Autism awareness should be about letting these children grow up to be who they are in a way that validates their feelings and lets them understand themselves so they can be confident and educated in their choices. For now, Dex says he doesn’t want to get married. Whether or not it stays that way, I have no idea. But I will raise him to know that if that’s what he wants, that is completely acceptable. 

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