My whole life I have liked making money. I liked it as a kid doing extra chores. I liked it as a college student so I could help pay my living expenses.
Making money means I get to make choices. I get to decide what I am going to do with that money. Sometimes I spend it, sometimes I save it, sometimes I give it away. My choice.
Getting married and having kids has thrown a wrench into my perfect money decision process. I am no longer the sole authority on how the money is spent and I will admit, it is a difficult pill for me to swallow. Very difficult.
But on the whole, a lot of my time as an adult as been based on decisions that allowed me to either continue to bring in a paycheck or to improve the numbers on the paycheck. I never meant for them to, but things kept popping up that needed money and I needed to be able to provide money. My husband is in the same boat. He works long hours and has made sacrifices to bring home a bigger paycheck.
So it is very strange and very liberating to be fundraising for autism. I am working my little tail off to help Autism Speaks get donations. I don’t have to decide what is done with the money. They have that all figured out already. I don’t have to feel guilty about how it is managed, because I never even see it or lay hands on it.
I always thought fundraising was something given by people and that the person asking for it was just a money hand-exchanger. The truth is that I am really working for this. I put in hours and effort and creativity and heart and body into this. I am working hard. And all of my rewards go to Autism Speaks.
I am just now understanding that volunteers are people who work but ask you to pay someone else instead of them. That is huge. I volunteered in my younger years, but it was always a one-night thing or a weekend thing or a fun thing. Yes, this is fun and yes there are one-night events, but I am doing this and thinking about this and planning this every day.
I wish I was better at it. I wish I was one of those charismatic people who have lots of friends and can walk into a room and people are falling over themselves to get on board. The truth is that I have no friends. I am shy and awkward and come off as standoffish because I am so shy. I don’t know how to motivate people. I am a loner.
So doing this whole autism advocacy thing is a HUGE leap into a new world for me. This is not something I am good at or that comes easily for me. I am making mistakes and have definitely been hurt a few times.
I am learning a lot of things. I wish I could say I was learning how to advocate better, but what I am learning usually has nothing to do with that. I am learning more about autism and how it fits into my life, Tyler’s life, and our family’s life. I am learning how important it is to listen to people and see what is important to them. I am learning how to give some of my money away again. I am learning how to talk about things. I am learning how to put the different parts of my life into perspective. I am learning how to work really hard for something without being selfish about the rewards. I am learning the joy of a sacrifice freely given. When I receive a donation on my walk page or a purchase of my baby items that will go towards the Walk, I feel successful in a way that I don’t feel when I see a paycheck deposited into my bank account.
I am trying to do as much as I can to help autism awareness, but it is really doing more good for me than I am doing for it. Maybe it is reshaping me into something that can be useful. God knows I am not loaded up with useful the past few years.
I never thought that being a mother would bring me down this road. That it would change so much of me. I am glad that it has, because I desperately needed saving.
From my heart,
(c) Rachel Flinchum 9/10/2013