16 Jun 2015

Wishing for Normal

Wishing for Normal

Author: Julie Brusio  /  Categories: Parenting , Julie's Blogs  /  Rate this article:
I post a lot about the positive side of autism on Ketchup With a Side of Autism. As Joey frequently tells me, “Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, Mom. Don’t be a Debbie Downer.” So as much as I like to keep it real, I try my best to see the silver linings. But there are days like today when reality smacks me in the face making it hard to be overly positive.

Debbie is going to middle school in August. When Joey started going to middle school, we gave him a key to the house. After school, he would let himself in, grab a snack, start his homework, and wait for Vince and me to come home after work. The first year we called religiously to check on him, but we gradually stopped because everything was generally fine. Joey has grown into a responsible trustworthy young man. 

Debbie, on the other hand, can’t just be given a key to the house. As much as I would love to be able to trust her, she’s just not ready to take on that responsibility. As a result, we need to find someone to meet her at the bus after school and stay at home with her until Vince and I come home from work. I wish that wasn’t the case but it is our reality. 

Here’s another cold, hard splash of reality. Debbie doesn’t want to walk across the stage to graduate from fifth grade. So a meaningful rite of passage for many kids will more than likely not happen for her. Every time I mention the idea, she protests loudly. As much as I would love to see her included, I won’t force her to do something that will not benefit her. She will be miserable and everyone will know it. It would be extremely selfish of me to coerce her just for my benefit. My brain knows this. My heart knows it too but doesn’t want to acknowledge it. 

And that’s the crux of my life as an autism mom. Logic and emotions fight with one another all the time. I hate it. I wish for “normal.” I want her to walk across the stage. I want her to be able to let herself into our house after school and take care of herself. I want her to earn a high school diploma, go to college, and build a successful career and life for herself. Does that make me a horrible mom? No, because at the end of the day logic prevails over emotion. 

I will always put Debbie’s needs ahead of my wishes. I will always sacrifice my emotions so that she is happy and successful. She does not need to cross a stage in a crowded, noisy auditorium just so I can have my Kodak moment. Additionally, having an adult greet her off the bus and support her until we get home is the safest option for her. As much as I feel frustrated by these “limits,” it is our reality. I often don’t like it, but I must accept it and remind myself that while Deb can’t do these things right now, that doesn’t mean she will never be able to do them. As long as I hold onto that hope, I can accept our reality. 

xoxoxox  ~ Julie


Number of views (1756)      Comments (6)

Julie Brusio

Julie Brusio Julie Brusio

“Autism is full of ups and downs and because of it I have more patience than I used to and can appreciate the "little" things in life.”

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6 comments on article "Wishing for Normal"


6/16/2015 1:55 PM

Thanks for articulating what so many of us feel. It is so hard sometimes to see the "NT" kids magically launch themselves into life as we painstakingly try to remain positive and coach, coach, coach. Yes our kids will get there, but sometimes I think the zig zag it takes to do it is there to remind us that it is not about us!

Julie Brusio

6/16/2015 3:04 PM

So true, Martha! :)

Dori Reid

6/16/2015 3:42 PM

I just went through the same thing with my son, Shawn, and his graduation from high school. While I would have been thrilled to watch him cross the stage in his cap and gown to accept his diploma for which he (and we) worked so hard, it was not meant to be. He would have done it for me, but that would have been too much to ask of him. At the end of the day, he got his diploma and he got it the way he wanted...through the mail!

Julie Brusio

6/16/2015 4:14 PM

I'm so glad it worked out for both of you. Congratulations as well!


6/17/2015 11:25 AM

I needed to read this today! Our son, too, did not want to attend his high school graduation ceremony. I am hoping today that I can convince him to put on the cap and gown I ordered for him so that we can take a photo, alone at home, to commemorate the occasion for my sake. The struggle of emotion vs logic is always present, and it helps me to continue on with the coaching and optimism, knowing I share this struggle with other moms.

Julie Brusio

6/18/2015 11:59 AM

I'm curious, Beth. Did your son put on the cap and gown so you could celebrate him? Congratulations on him graduating. That is such a big step!

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