motherhood autism parenting

Two years ago I came to terms with my theory that my young daughter was a recluse, hated crowds, had anxiety, and hated to socialize outside a two mile radius of our home. It got real lonely sometimes. In three weeks of one winter break we left the house to play three times.

One day, she granted me a light at the end of the tunnel and asked to go fishing. I couldn’t yank the vacuum cord out of the wall fast enough! I’d never taken her fishing, but packed the car like a crazy person and got out of jail. We were still alone but we took in every precious moment outside. It was one of her (and my) happiest days together.

Thanks be to God.

Two years later I realize it wasn’t just a theory. My thoughts were validated. I have an amazing little beauty whose heart beats to a different drum. As soon as I realized this, I changed the way I mothered.

More patience.

More compassion.

More listening.

Master her triggers.

Soft words – always.

Love myself – unconditionally.

Choose happiness.

Every. Damn. Day.

By doing so, I found the happy kid inside.

One might think, “Hello, rookie. That comes naturally to mothers. Why not you?”

Well, because I didn’t understand why she had to be “Mary Quite Contrary”. Things that would make every little girl happy would do nothing for her. Or worse, she’d act like everyone else then follow through with quantum meltdowns.

I was spinning my wheels, making a circus out of myself. I found it challenging. I was frustrated. The problem was ME. I was not paying attention. Like a selfish child, I only cared about my problems and boy, did I have problems.

I’m a different woman now. My problems became blessings. Each one taught me a lesson. I have less fear and more faith… that’s another story.

So please don’t question why I give her choices. Don’t question why she won’t play with your kid, participate in sports, or meet you at the beach. Don’t question why I continue to chat with you as she begins to suck her thumb and I say nothing. Don’t wonder why I gag when you give her a lollipop or why there’s no sugar in my house. Don’t wonder why I sometimes choose alone time with my daughter over a big multi-family barbecue. Because she is taking me on a journey more eye opening than beers and bouncy castles.

Don’t get me wrong, I myself love being invited and love having choices. It’s just that I don’t have a child that can be “told” to go anywhere and quite frankly, that’ll come in handy when she becomes a young adult.

She has the right to like different things and by practicing her rights:

She’s been empowered.

She is shining through.

She is perfect in every way.

We are best friends, yet I have her respect.

No more anxiety.

Just authenticity.

What a difference a few years can make!

Image Credit: Happy Bandits

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Kathryn Butcher is a full time mama and part time personal trainer with Maui Strong Moms. She was born and raised in N. California and attended University of California, Davis, where her interests in physiology, nutrition, and fitness were sparked. She has lived on Maui for 14 years and started Maui Strong Moms when her daughter was born in 2009. Kathryn’s passions are her work, manifesting a memoir, yoga, and ensuring her daughter is raised to be a “Mighty Girl”.

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