~"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind.."~
Mothers are interesting creatures. I say that from experience. Both as an observer and as an active participant. From the first time that you venture out in the world with your (very first) new baby-you are subjected to the watchful eyes of mothers everywhere..Sometimes, I imagine them like a pack of animals..being filmed for a documentary on the Discovery channel (in my head I can hear a narrator(of course he has a British accent)) speaking in a hushed and reverent tone "The experienced mothers, not wanting to give up their place in the pack are posturing in front of the mother who has just given birth..look! The mother of the three month old is proclaiming her child's brilliance..oh wait..here comes another mother..she's carrying "Baby Einstein" DVD's!..look at the way she holds her head up! How stunning! Look at how the new mum, feeling inadequate...grazes from a distance.. head down low..never getting to close..We are watching nature in its rawest moments.."
Oh, I remember those days-when it was just me and Sam. Although, I caught on pretty early to this superior mother thing. I found my own special way to deal with it. I simply made things up-the more ridiculous the better. "Oh! he spoke his first word at only three months?! Sam did that in utero...By the way, he's teaching a course in the humanities at our local community college now...I know,,,community college..but, we can't expect a Harvard tenure at only six months of age now could we?!" I have to say that it worked pretty well for a time...that is until GASP! *whispers* autism..
Yes, having kids diagnosed with a developmental disability puts you in a whole other place in the pack. A place where some parents either pity or martyr you. And you know? It might not be as awful as it sounds if it came with...I don't know..candy or coffee or something. But it doesn't. Instead it mostly comes with this thing that I like to call "The Look"..I think that any parent of any child who struggles with anything knows what I'm talking about. You might be sitting with a group of parents..just talking about kid stuff...life...really anything..and you proudly say something like "My boy wants to be a teacher when he grows up." First-there is an uncomfortable silence..they've met your child...could have seen them stimming...maybe even tried to chat with them. You ignore it...choosing instead to go into detail about why your son would be a great teacher. While the listener gets this look ...head slightly tilted ...eyes that say "poor delusional you" and a sad half smile on their face. Firstly, ick..just ick. I really have come to LOATHE "The Look" But-as I can't do anything to get rid of it(legally)-I've learned to ignore it. Sadly, some people can only see differences. I choose to spend my time with people who see possibilities.
The thing of it is-I see myself as a regular parent. I am not raising disabilities. I am raising children who have them. I will never say that it has always been easy. There have been rough times...there have been scary times. But, there have also been times full of joy and love. We muddle through..we get by. And, like any other parent-I raise my children to be the best possible people that they can be. Like any other parent I have dreams and I have fears. Like any other parent I want my kids to have a safe and secure place in this world. I want them to be accepted and loved-and at the same time, I want my kids to accept and to love themselves. I had thought it was as simple as that. Until recently.
I was not going to write about the recent horror in Connecticut. But, something happened that set me on edge. I, like so many other people in the autism community was devastated by the speculation (made by many news reporters) that somehow this persons possible diagnosis of autism was the cause of his horrendous crime. Of course this has been refuted by bloggers, organizations...even "The New York Times" had something to say about it. Unfortunately, the seed had already been planted. Many were convinced. So much so that I even found a hate group on Facebook-calling for the execution of anyone on the spectrum. Pretty chilling. ( Of course I reported it-and I believe that it was taken down.) But the thing that personally floored me was the reaction that I received from some of the people I know. People that know my children. People that I have trusted AND who have had the privilege of spending time with my kids. When I discussed this with them, when I adamantly declared that there is absolutely no correlation between autism and violent crime...some of them gave me...*sigh* "The Look." As if they knew better-as if I were deluding myself. That somehow it was o.k. to condemn an entire group of people-my kids included. Simply because it gave them an explanation. Makes them feel safe. Case closed,
I get that when something so horrific such as this crime takes place-it is human nature to try and figure out the cause, to find something to blame..To try and make sense out of the senseless. The speculation has run rampant. Maybe he was autistic? Maybe he was mentally ill? Maybe he played to many video games? Maybe he was on the wrong meds? Maybe it is meds in general? Maybe his mother wanted to have him committed and he was angry? Maybe it is our mental health system?..I have heard just about everything being blamed with maybe the exception of his hair color. The truth of it is-we will probably never know. But more importantly, I do know this- you can not blame whole groups of people based on speculation and maybes. You can not nor should not call for more death and destruction. Twenty six people were murdered. That is already too much.
My heart goes out to the all of the families. May they one day find peace.
"The deep pain that is felt
at the death of every friendly soul
arises from the feeling that there is
in every individual something
which is inexpressible,
peculiar to him alone,
and is, therefore,
absolutely and irretrievably lost."
- Arthur Schopenhauer