Saturday, January 7, 2012
I've been at a crossroads about the directions I want to take on this blog, as a mom, and in my life, generally. Forgive my delay in posting. I finally decided that I could post about it rather than waiting to post after figuring it out. Figuring it out will likely take time, I expect. And, since you all hang on my every word (HA!), I hated to keep you waiting. ;)
There are a couple of crossroads-type issues that have surfaced for me. First, while I've always felt that blogging was narcissistic and borderline obnoxious, I felt compelled and called to do it, at the gentle suggestion of some of 4A's doctors. If I can meet a need in the autism community, I rationalized, then I can willingly suspend my reservations about narcissism. Additionally, some of my mommy buddies have lovingly "pestered" me to share my "keep the kids busy" and creative ideas in a more codified fashion, one that they could refer back to after our conversation had ended. Again, I rationalized that I could suspend the aforementioned reservations if I was satisfying a need.
Fast forward a few months into the blog, and here are my thoughts now. While I may, in fact, be serving or meeting the needs of the autism community or harried moms, I still have reservations: two specifically. First, I still think it's narcissistic, and I am absolutely unwilling to present the notion that I either know what I'm doing or that I'm doing anything the "right" way. Just because something works for me as a mom or for my children or in our happy version of high-functioning autism that doesn't mean that it will work for you or anyone else. While this notion is very clear in my mind and while I try to remind you all of that, I still can't really escape the narcissism. Second, while I'm a helper and a care-er by nature, I must remember that my needs and the needs of my family come before anyone else's, no matter how much those around me do need help. I often lose sight of this, letting my priorities get all out of whack to do something that I want to do (like blogging).
Hence, the crossroads.
I must digress a short moment. A year or so ago, I was sharing a volunteer job with a woman who holds a paid job and is also a mom. We were feeling overwhelmed in our volunteer job, so in an effort to get some perspective, I said, "Look...if it gets to be too much and either of our jobs get in the way, then we'll just cancel or do without. Oh well!" She said, "You work?" ;) I smile because my feelings were not hurt, I promise, but I'm clear that plenty of folks don't see my choice as a job. Neither here nor there; I just found it something to smile about. Perhaps you may, too.
So, back to the "career" crossroads. I haven't been as happy as I'd like in my job for a few months. Job dissatisfaction on some level, I suppose. I have struggled with anemia and reflux for years. By struggled, I actually think I mean ignored. Being pregnant or nursing someone for over nine years without break has that effect. That explains a hefty portion of the physical and emotional fatigue and burnout, I think. I am constantly needed. That, in and of itself, is a wonderful, glorious thing, but it has a way of wearing one down if she's not careful to replenish her reserves. I haven't been too careful. I'm working on those remedies. Slow and steady wins the race. My burnout, physical and emotional, didn't happen over night, so it's not going to be fixed overnight.
But, it's occurred to me, upon reflection, that I have again had my priorities out of whack. And, here comes the narcissism mentioned above, again. These are my priorities based on who I am as a person, what's going on in my life, my circumstances, my issues. They have nothing to do with you. By assessing my priorities and recounting them to you, I make no statement whatsoever on your (or anyone else's) priorities.
Having made that explicitly clear, I hope, I shall continue. There are a lot of things that I really enjoy as a person. I love volunteering and crafting and organizing, specifically. I have let myself do a lot of those things when I haven't really had the time available for them. I think it was my way of keeping myself autonomous in a sea of never-ending needs, but here's what happened. Not having enough "free" time to accomplish these things that I love, I took or used or borrowed that time from my family. I tried to do my things on their time, specifically my children's time. What happened then, I think, is that I got more and more irritated with my family's needs because they were interfering with and interrupting what I wanted to do. I got resentful. I got bitchy. I got fed up.
Another crossroads. How do I meet my own needs while meeting those of my family? I think every mom feels this. I don't have a paying job to call my own and give me worth and value in the world. I want it that way because I'm too much of a chicken-shit to let someone else take care of my babies all day. I have sacrificed a LOT of "stuff" (most of it material and emotional) to stay with these guys all day. That's cool with me, but I guess I'm having trouble being mom and person at the same time.
Crossroads #2 established.
I have purposely withheld the following information with you for a very intellectually and philosophical reason. The reason first. I know how desperately folks who live with autism need/want help. I remember how much someone in the early stages of the autism journey (I used to be one of you) looks to families further along in the journey for support and help and answers and instructions and resources and reassurance. I also know how folks want secular answers, whether they live in faith (to whomever or whatever) or not. So, I have purposely withheld the faith portion of my journey as mom and person and autism survivor because I didn't want to alienate anyone who came here for secular help.
Here's the crossroads, then. For me, the journey is not entirely secular, in the sense that it is not secularly driven. I withheld that for what I believe was a logical reason. That logic is no longer sitting well with me. How do I help all who are looking for help with autism while being true to the faith portion of my journey? I know (again because I used to live in this category in my younger and "smarter" years) that the mere mention of faith will inspire plenty of folks to jump ship. That's okay, of course, but then I'm not meeting my original purpose of helping those who live with autism. If I keep the faith part out so that I can help all, I don't feel true to myself or my faith. What to do? What to do? What to do?
Crossroads identified. Solutions, resolutions, or answers pending. Stay tuned...