The Autism Journey – Finding the Best Family Balance
Each of us has our own autism journey, and we all go through different tests or struggles that are unique to us. But certain things are common; we do learn things from each other’s experiences.
We all have an autism journey destination. Sometimes the autism journey process can be more complicated than we anticipated. It can feel like we take two steps forward but then five steps backward. In honesty, it is hard not to fret about all the obstacles we encounter as Ms’ parents. One particular obstacle has been finding employment full-time outside the home. In truth, every autism parent or guardian put in countless hours of work at home with their children. It is a demanding job that we do whole heartily because of our love and determination to help our children be successful in their own abilities.
The decision not to work full time outside the home was dramatically made for me due to budget cuts. I was no longer employed as an early childhood education mentor-coach. Sometimes the bumps we run into on our journey teaches us a lot about perseverance in still reaching our overall goal, which in my case was making sure our family would be happy.
I could not change what happened, but I could adjust my outlook. In these four months, I have spent a lot of time with our M going to various doctors’ appointments/therapy, going to the park and gardening that would have been challenging if I was still employed full time outside the home. For the first time in my life, I was not working full time outside our home. In truth, the feeling was awesome but yet fearful at the same time. In reality, every parent first job is being a parent 24/7. I do find being M’s mom interesting, rewarding, and exhausting. I discovered the first two months being home full-time was great.
M and I were together every single day and night. I learned even more amazing things about our M. Like for example, M really enjoyed helping me plant a garden. He would laugh every time while watering the plants. He started saying new words like plant and help. Yes, all our time together this summer still had its typical ups and downs. Noteworthy, I did not turn into a June Cleaver. I had an autistic 5-year-old to keep up with so T-shirts/sweat pants/jeans were the norm. Also, I found myself not stressing so much about keeping our house perfectly neat. If a load of laundry got folded that day, okay, or if the mopping got done after M went to bed it was okay.
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I found a certain freedom in my thinking adjustment. My heart did ache when summer break was over and M started kindergarten. I secretly wanted M to miss me just as much as I missed him. Then the reality of life hit, I faced the crossroads of whether to go back to work full-time or part-time outside the home. In contemplating this decision, I had to consider M’s medical issues and our financial situation. I cried and prayed every night about what to do. I could not give an outside job full-time my 100 percent best and still be there for M needs 100 percent.
It’s a scary feeling not knowing how your family is going to make it and still put on a brave front for your child. I had to rely on my Creator to help us. At the end of the day, one of the most important gifts I can give our child was my time. I made the choice to find something part-time that would allow me the flexibility to work around Ms’ doctor and therapy appointments. Hence, I became a blog writer of M’s Story and a substitute teacher.
This has been a big financial adjustment for our family. However, I do not regret this adjustment to our autism journey. We have enjoyed encouragement from the goodwill of our unique autism community. M has taught me that adjustments can be scary and at times are needed but having faith, love, hope, and the courage to press onward can yield forth unimaginable blessings.
Simply an autism mom learning.
This article was featured in Issue 87 – Building ASD Awareness and Communication