Why Not Me?

At some point, when our children are infants, we can imagine what it is like to lose control and harm them.  The vast majority of us never do.  But we can see losing our temper, being so sleep deprived and stressed that we hurt them.

When we see stories of people who do such horrid things, we are shocked and appalled.  But a little voice in the back of our heads says "If the circumstances were right, who is to say I wouldn't do such a horrid thing?"

It is like standing on the edge of a cliff and realizing you might jump.  But you never do.

Some of those children grow into a diagnosis of autism or other difference.  Sometimes this includes severe sleep issues.  Sometimes self-injurious behaviors.  Sometimes aggression.

Sometimes we can imagine losing control and hurting them.  The vast majority of us never do.

When we see stories of people who do such horrid things, we are shocked and appalled.  But that little voice in the back of our minds says "What if?

This is not the same as condoning.  The action is still anathema.

This is not being a bad person.  This is saying "I am human.  I don't want to be that person.  I need to expand my resources before I become that person."

When people are condemned for saying it.  When they are chastised.  When they are called 'evil' it makes it that less likely that they will seek help.  That they will talk about it. 

They bury it under the desire to show what a good, strong person they want others to think them.  The person they wish they were.

And they take one step closer to the edge of that cliff.

The helpful response to "I could be that parent" is "What would keep you from doing that?  What do you need for support?"

We talk and talk about the supports that our children need.  But there is no IFSP or IEP for parents.  We are stressed.  We post jokes about drinking.  We rarely post about girls' night out or what we do with our friends.

We talk about peer groups and lunch buddies for our kids while we are isolated and lose friends because our lives revolve around our children and autism.

We try to balance the attention given to the kids who have the bigger behavioral issues and the kids who are so easy to ignore.  While falling out of balance with ourselves and ignoring our partners.

In becoming the parent that our children need and that we feel we should be, we distance ourselves from the people and activities that keep us healthy.

We present a front of a wonderful, strong parent.  While secretly berating ourselves for every misstep.  For every time we screamed at a child who doesn't understand.  For losing control.  For 1 minute of bad parenting after hours of staying in control.

It is always easier to see where others are making a mistake, because we stand too close to our own lives.  So it is our duty to look to ourselves, but also to other parents.  To suggest supports.  To be supports.

And it is necessary to make a community where parents can say "I don't want to be that person.  Help."


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