I’ve officially been told that I’m “Not like other moms.” I mean, I know we mamas are all unique in our own way, but I’ve actually been told by a professional.
Marston was diagnosed with autism at age 2.5. Before that time, we struggled greatly. I recognize now that we were trying to help Marston cope with a host of sensory processing issues. The most pronounced issue being that Marston never wanted to eat. When he did eat, he would gag constantly and very often vomit everything back up. We’re not talking “spit up” here - projectile vomit. I spent about 6 hours a day trying to feed him just so that he could be over the “failure to thrive” line on the little growth chart.
As you can imagine, we took Marston to his pediatrician over and over. (Please know, for you locals, that this is NOT a story about our wonderful current pediatrician the fabulous Dr. Burgess.) There were endless referrals and visits to 7 different various hospitals in New England. We went everywhere trying to figure out what was wrong with him.
One day I went to the pediatrician, afraid and exhausted. I held Marston on my lap as I talked because he was just learning to sit up on his own. At home there had been a few times when he tried sitting up, would fall over, hit his head and vomit. This lovely behavior was yet another sensory issue that would occur when he was startled or scared. I was trying to prevent this from happening here in the office.
Marston fussed and cried in my arms as I tried to distract him with a toy. At one point in the conversation, the pediatrician said to me, “I think you need to relax. He will eat in his own time. I think you are trying to force it. For example, other moms would put their kid on the floor and let him crawl around right now. You’re too worried.”
I was shattered. This one simple statement destroyed all confidence I had in my new parenting abilities. He confirmed my deepest fear -I’m the problem. I’m a terrible mother. I’m causing all of this.
A decade and a half later my heart still hurts to think about this conversation. The damage this did to me as a young mom was devastating. It took me years to build up my confidence in my parenting after this day. But he was right about one thing - I am NOT like other moms. I have done borderline heroic things to keep Marston safe, healthy, and happy over the last 17 years. Not putting him on the floor in that doctor’s office is just one of a million Mama Bear acts I have done, and will do until forever, to protect him.
Parents of kids with special needs do incredible things every single day. We try to do this massive job with grace and humor. This life can be sad, frustrating and lonely. We are exhausted. We can never let our guard down. The stress eats you alive. But somehow we keep showing up day after day.
Nope, I’m not like other moms. I’m one of the superhuman moms. And proud of it.