We put such extreme pressure on ourselves as autism parents. We spend so much of our lives in that hyper-tense zone of lacking the energy to do anything, not having any idea how to help our children, and feeling like we are failing them.
We could give ourselves a break by reflecting on whether something is truly important.
I find it so easy to put as much emotional energy into paying bills these days as I do into our son’s regressions. And I so readily give something my energy just because someone says I should.
After all, if I feel like I’m failing at being an autism parent, those raw and wounded places inside me are like black holes sucking in what light there is around me. I get to where I can’t see what I should do.
I’m going to guess you’re like me in that so often I draw in all the worries and fears about the future into one super-concentrated bundle of terrible anxiety. I grab everything that may or could happen, even everything that most likely would never happen, and hold it as if that would allow me to control it.
At some point comes the terrible realization that such control is an illusion. I have no more control over most of the future as I do the weather. I could despair about this, and I have more often than I want to admit.
But our younger son’s cancer forced me to change. Worrying about the future simply became too terrible. It made so many of my old worries seem trivial. It cast the most unspeakable fears into a fire I didn’t dare touch.
I had to change. And I hope it doesn’t take cancer for you to do likewise.
I wanted to tell you one of the biggest changes this forced me to make. It’s saying to myself, “It’s OK if you don’t do this today.”
It’s OK if you don’t deal with this stack of paper today. It’s OK if you don’t worry about your upcoming IEP meeting today. It’s OK if you and your kids don’t eat a healthy meal today.
It’s OK if you aren’t the parent you want to be today. It’s OK if your house is a mess today. It’s OK if you don’t clean the bathroom or the living room today.
It’s OK if you don’t think your achievements in life are what they should be today. It’s OK if you don’t deal with other people’s criticisms today.
It’s OK if you don’t deal with other people today.
It’s OK if you don’t deal with the future today.
It’s OK not to do most everything today.
If you have a roof over your head and no one is in mortal danger, you’re likely OK for today.
Practice saying, “It’s OK if I don’t do this today.” Do this at least several times a day. Focus your life down to what is most important; put things aside to deal with later.
And say ‘yes’ to what matters most to you.