I Will See You

Runnings errands with two small children is no easy feat. When Ash was a baby it was easier. He stayed in the carseat the whole time, even inside the store.

Once two mobile entities come into play, it gets harder. They do not bolt in the same direction.

Add Tyler’s autism into the mix and going out alone with them becomes a mythological trial of Hercules.

So for a long time I was trapped at home with the boys. Need groceries…gonna have to wait for the hubs to get home from work. Bored…get used to it. See Facebook pictures of families at pools or at restaurants…how alien and strange.

Recently I decided I was getting out of the house again. Fast food places with playgrounds and pet stores are frequent haunts for us.

If I am either super brave or super desperate, like today, we go to the grocery store and pray one of those special car carts are available. It seats two in the car part.

As we were leaving I was politely trying to explain to the cashier that I couldn’t listen to all the instructions for surveys and double points on gas because the boys were more than ready to go.

I look over at Ash and he is bolting for the front door. I call him to no avail, so I go straight into a run and catch him as he is leaving the store right into the busy parking lot. I was terrified. I barely caught him in time.

I go back for Tyler and the groceries and the whole store watches as I struggle out of the store with two small children and a cart that won’t turn.

I was angry everyone watched. I was angry no one offered to help. I was angry the cashier thought it would be a good idea to give me a five minute long speech when I was obviously struggling to control two small children.

As I got into my seat and started my car. A lady with a baby had walked up to the car next to ours. When my engine started, she looked over her shoulder and gave me a really nasty look.

A look I recognized.

So I waited until her baby was secure in her carseat and the lady had moved to the back of the car to unload her groceries. Even though there had been plenty of room for me to leave before then.

But even though it has been four years, and my current grocery store hurdles look very different, I still remember going with just the one baby. At the time, that wasn’t easy.

I almost didn’t even notice her. Our lives are so hectic and filled with struggles, that seeing moments that we can respond to is really hard.

It was so easy to wait for this lady to safely secure her baby girl before pulling away. How many of these moments am I blind to?

I read a Facebook post about the importance of caring about your community and country. Investing and sacrificing for your neighbors can turn a broken place into one of growth and strength.

That is what I want my autism advocacy to do. We have no grants we have applied for. We have not asked for any assistance or free services. I am not raising money and support for Tyler.

I am doing it for our community and our children. No family should have to raise a special needs child without professional guidance. No family should be broken by this. No child should feel broken. No community can be strong without understanding its children and the needs of their neighbors. No person is whole unless they understand the people around them.

People don’t understand autism. They don’t understand Spina Bifida. They don’t understand Down Syndrome. We see children with cancer and birth defects and disorders and we see an object of sympathy. We don’t see people. We don’t see a forming adult. We don’t see their potential…just their ticking clock.

I do it. I see a clock and a broken family. I am wrong.

I dream of a better world and of a stronger community. A proud community. And that community is one where you can take your baby and your kids out of your house and into that community.

One hard to see moment at a time is what it is going to take. I commit to opening my eyes. Will you do this with me?

From my heart,
Rachel

http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum for another hard to see moment

(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/24/2013

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4 thoughts on “I Will See You

  1. I wish I didn’t relate so much to this post. I have a nearly 8 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old on the spectrum, and I am about 3 weeks from having our 4th (and last) child. I still have to go out of the house and buy groceries, and take them to their school, their extra curricular activities … it is so sad the looks I get. Some are sorrowful, like they feel bad for me. Often I get disgusted looks. All this judgement when really the children are being children. I am being a mom and I am doing my best. I had an older woman at the store last week literally scold me for being out with the children and expecting and how I obviously could not handle them – I thought they were being amazingly well behaved! So now when I see another Mom that might seem overwhelmed, I at least smile. If I am in a position to help, I do. And if I am offered help, darn it I take it because giving a gift is as important as getting it and they are offering me a gift. We can change our world one smile at a time!

    • That is exactly right! Thank you for being such a brave mom! Smiles instead of glares mean so much when you feel like your control is teetering…not just your control of the kids in the situation, but control over your emotions. They can totally flavor the whole experience. Even if I try to shrug it off, glares leave a nasty lingering aftertaste. I don’t have a lot of money or time, but I could give away a thousand smiles a day and it wouldn’t cost me a penny. Thank you for your comment. It was very helpful to me.

  2. Hugs Rachel. We are both learning so much from your sweet Tyler and my dear Zoe. We are both better and more informed parents. We are both more empathetic and sympathetic to others needs and experiences. We are both more empathetic and sympathetic to our children’s needs and even our family and our husbands. There are days that I need to focus on getting through that one minute, and others that seem to have been amazing and I feel like I got it all under control. You are doing awesome. You are the best mom in the universe for Tyler – just remember that when you are getting “other mothered”

    • Ha! Another Nick Mom watcher! That was one of the first things Tyler read. The Nick Mom logo on the tv. We haven’t been teaching him to read and he hates books so we were shocked to find he could read about twenty words. The great thing about parents is that no matter when we meet our children, at birth or later through adoption, we know our children better than anyone else. We are the experts of our unique and beautiful ones. So even when I am struggling and fearful, I am still the best in the world. Of course I don’t have all the answers, no one has ever raised Tyler and Ash before…but no one else has as many answers as myself and my husband. It is hard to find that confidence sometimes, but I am not only protecting the boys from the lions in the grass, but the ones in my heart and mind as well.

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