living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Posts tagged ‘acceptance’

He Bit My Face: Losing Touch With God

My blog has been neglected.  I had a goal of posting once a week.  Unfortunately my last few starts have been such heavy and controversial topics, I’m intimidated to finish them, begin writing them, and most certainly to publish them.  I’ve got works in progress about timing for sharing pregnancy news featuring baby death, one about food and why we’re working at self sufficiency featuring nutrition for Autism symptoms, and one that has been floating in my head about Autism, and its suspected causes, featuring why the vaccination debate will never go away.

In the mean time, I’ve met this amazing mom blogger who inspires me.  Somehow, she manages to write everyday.  I don’t know how she finds the time.  I would accuse her of making her kids up, but she speaks from a heart that undeniably has children.   I highly recommend her blog if you have kids, have a child with ASD, have had a baby die, or if you have multiples.  Can you believe we have that much in common?  Oh, and both our husbands are teachers, and are prince charming handsome.  How is that for unbelievable?  You can blog stalk her here, Four, plus an angel

Her posts aren’t always very long, but always packed full of head nodding and the like, and her short post today has inspired me to just write a post, partly on inclusion too, or more like exclusion.  Today she writes a letter to her storytime mom’s group telling them why she’s not going back, and it’s about acceptance.  It got me to thinking about our playgroup experiences, why we quit before we could be kicked out, and how those moms choose not to let me into their circle because Elijah refused to be a part of the music circle.  I was the mom with the weird kid.  This was before our Autism diagnosis.  I wonder how many of them assumed there must be something wrong with my kid, which then got me to thinking about this time at church, which is what this post is about:

Somehow I’ve become a lapsed Catholic.  There was a time when I wondered how people could let that happen.  I was self-righteous, I figured if I could make it to church after Katie died, after having twins, and later with two toddlers and a baby, there was no good reason for anyone else to allow their faith to lapse.  That was until Autism.

When we packed up and made the big move to Chicago we figured we would find community at church, and we did meet some great friends in the young families group there, who are friends still.   Though we were going through the gauntlet with Elijah,( two and a half to three and a half  was my own personal hell) we continued to go to church every week.  He couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t keep quiet, he wouldn’t play quietly during the service.  I could feel all eyes on me when he would scream, run away, or otherwise misbehave.  I was embarrassed.  I couldn’t understand why my kid was so unmanageable.  I was strict, I would glare angrily over at Kyle when I felt he wasn’t doing enough to keep him in line.  I wanted nothing more than for him to be like the other kids there, and I figured by continuing to go every week he would eventually learn.

One Sunday, while sitting near the front, I was holding Elijah, who was trying his best to break free, so he could run around like Max from Where The Wild Things Are.  Frustrated that I was stronger than he was, he screamed, and lunged forward and bit my face HARD, I had lingering teeth marks in my cheek.  I was mortified, people saw, and I imagined they must think, that he is either the most unruly kid in the world, or I was the worst parent.

Soon after that we stopped going to church.  I needed the break.  Somewhere in that break we got a diagnosis of Autism for Elijah.  Sometime later we went back one Sunday for a service.  While taking Elijah out for a walk during the service in the foyer, I ran into a lovely woman who said we had been missed, and wondered what had been keeping us away.  Upon telling her we had been coming to terms with an autism diagnosis for Elijah and we needed some distance,  she said,” Oh, we thought it might be something like that. ”

I died a little inside that day.  It was obvious to everyone that my kid was damaged, I wasn’t ready for that.  I wasn’t ready to know that people were armchair diagnosing my kid with various neurological disorders, either.

Shortly after that we were packing up and moving again.  We didn’t do much to find a church.  The Catholic church believes that church should be experienced as a family, so there’s little in the way of children’s services.   Besides I’m not sure if Eli could go to an unparented children’s bible study, or if he’d be too much, and we’d be kicked out of one more thing.    He doesn’t do mass so well either, it’s too long for him, and doesn’t hold his interest.   We could go to a more intresting chruch, one that’s louder, has more music, a better program for kids, but I don’t want to, I feel like I’m a Catholic.  So now I’m a lapsed Catholic, because I don’t feel like we can go to church.

I miss  going to church, I miss the communion with God, I miss the quiet moment dedicated to prayer.  I miss believing.  Over time , I’ve come to worry at the possibility of no God.   In some small round about way Autism has stolen my faith, along with my energy, patience, and the parent I imagined I would be.  No God means no Heaven, and no Heaven means no future with Kate.  Autism, it seems, is slowly stealing her away as well, it’s too unfair. I pretend I still have faith. I cling to it with hope, that in saying it out loud it might make it true, but I worry about nothingness with a dread I can’t even begin to explain.

So I stand at this crossroad wondering what to do.  Give up being a Catholic for a church we might integrate into better, give up church, or start going to a Catholic church again and pretend the eyes on me aren’t there, when Eli starts making sound effects during communion prayers.  I’ve been standing here for some time, and I imagine I’ll stand here a bit longer, losing my faith all the while.

Anti-that-kind-of-parentite

Wanna do something controversial?  Have a baby.  Seriously.

I’ve read a few posts on other blogs recently on parenting styles, and then I spent some time talking with my friend Jodelene last night who is also a mama.  A mama going through a trauma, so she has different diversity parenting issues to deal with than me.  Also my friend Monica‘s blog posts have been rattling around in my brain (this one and this one.)

All of it has me reflecting on parenting.   Parenting styles, specifically, and tolerance.   You see I love Monica’s post, I don’t agree with it all, I personally think that we still need to fight for breastfeeding.  I think too much lips service is being paid to breastfeeding, doctors say breast is best while handing new moms a can of formula, just in case. Women are still being asked to cover up, or to take it to the bathroom, or are being discriminated against by articles like this one (hmm they did remove it).  On the other hand, I think she’s right, women who choose to bottle feed are also being discriminated against.  I know I have been quick to judge in the past.  If a woman has truly been presented with all the information to make an informed choice, I believe she has a right to chose, even if I don’t make the same one.

Everyone comes from different parent sets, and some of us feel the way our parents did it was right.  After all we all turned out okay, right?  And some of us want to steer in a completely new direction, opting to do it in a different way, then the way we were raised.

It seems to me that parenting style are increasingly being categorized with catchy titles.  Ferberizing, Baby Lead Weaning, Baby Wise-ing, family bed etc. etc.  Unlike in the past where we mostly just called it parenting, and you did it your way, and we did it ours.  Now we have books, websites, experts presenting at our mom groups on the merits of ‘their’ way, all putting styles, and the ‘rules on how to implement them, into neat little boxes.  And the problem, as I see it, with labeling, is that it leads to exclusion, other parent discrimination, and the us vs. them mentality.

Are you a monster if you let your baby cry it out?  Are you  creating an unhealthy attachment if you let your kids sleep with you?  Should you go to jail if you spank your kids? Are your kids going to be uneducated idiots if you homeschool, or allow them to chose their own educational path by unschooling? If a “typical hippy” mom with her baby at the hip, breastfeeding uncovered, while handing her older kid a raw vegetarian snack, starts talking about how fantastic the epidural was, should she have her sling revoked?

When Petra and Elijah were born I started a company that made slings and other baby products, so needless to say I was of the babywearing camp, however, I wanted nothing to do with an AP parenting group.  Why?  Because those Attachment Parenting moms and dads believed that you should wear your baby 24/7, and I couldn’t live up to that standard.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that was not the case at all, and that an AP group would have been a great fit for me.

You see, I’m pretty crunchy, I think.  I have strong views about how I feel is the right way to parent.  Sometimes it’s a rousing success, and sometimes it’s a complete flop.  Both these experiences help me to shape the way I parent the next day.  The way I raise my kid shouldn’t have to conform to a way, but I must admit I get hung up in it too.

The other day Micah was miserable.  I was tired.  He kept pinching me, pushing me away, but didn’t he want to be put down.  He wanted to nurse, and bite.  He needed sleep, but the arching of his back at the moment his eyes fluttered shut kept jerking him awake, and the screaming had me fearful we might have another ASD kid in the house.  I had him in the sling, the wrap, the mei tai, he wanted nothing to do with being worn.  I rocked him in the chair.  He was changed, and fed.  I tried nursing him, over and over, he clearly wasn’t interested.  I tried homeopathics, and then Tylenol in case of teething, or other unknown discomfort, and after several hours it seemed personal.  I’m rational, I know it wasn’t, but somewhere in the moment it felt like he was punishing me , that he was forcing himself awake of his own choosing. Didn’t he know I have other kids to care for too, a home schooling lesson ready, a puppy who just pooed in front of me, and lunch, an hour late, to make?

I wanted to hurt him, I really did want to.  Finally I set him in his crib, and went to call Kyle to sob and vent, while he wailed.  We don’t let our kids cry it out.  That day I left him to cry.  Some would have me believe that I risked brain damaging my child by allowing him to cry, maybe I did, but I should have put him down sooner.  I was seriously at the end of a rope, but I felt like I couldn’t put him down, because I would be abandoning my ideal, I had a box to conform to.  It was a box of my own design on some levels, and one imposed upon me on others.

The whole ordeal left me to wonder how many kids are perhaps brain damaged by a parent who snaps, because they are to involved in a parenting style to break the rules.  In the end I spoke with Kyle, admitted defeat reluctantly, and asked him to come home because I was a ‘crappy’ parent who couldn’t handle it.

My good friend Kim, who I felt was the shining example of how to execute perfect attachment parenting, surprised me one day.  She told me of a story the she had either read, or heard, in the news of a new mom who killed her infant baby by crushing it’s skull in a incident of frustration.  Expecting condemnation on the horror of it, instead she said something to the effect of: unless you have kids you can’t know how easy it is to feel that way.  As a new mom, at the time, I was so relieved that I wasn’t the only one.  So, we talked about how sad it was that she would have to mourn her baby, while many would likely feel she didn’t have the right to mourn because it was of her own doing.  I loved Kim a little more that day, and I love her a lot more today, she is one of my moms I look up to.

I don’t know where the parenting books are going to take us next, what the next ‘way’ will be.  I don’t see that things are going to get less separated, in fact I believe it will likely become more so. I wrote an article for The Shape of a Mother that asked moms to embrace each other as moms, instead of stacking themselves up against others to see who made it though pregnancy the least ‘badly’ that included this line:

No matter who we are on the outside, we all want the same thing for our children, room to grow, happiness, and love. How we provide that, is as diverse as our physical appearance.

So, I now say embrace each other as mothers regardless of how your body is changed, and love each other as mothers, and fathers, regardless of how you parent, as long as it is done respectfully, with love, without willful harm, and with the intention to form a well rounded, tolerant, beautiful grown person.  After all, parenting has always been diverse, it always will be, and learning about diversity is the best way to understand it, and to decide about the ways you would like to raise your children.

My parenting style is likely to continue to change, at least I hope it will, as I find the best way to get though to my kids and to feel good about the choice I’m making.  I also hope I can make myself more open to other parents even if I would never do it their way.