Friday, March 5, 2010

Sisters Everywhere

In my last post, I talked about how we are all related. I was thinking about my friend Elsa, whose niece suffered one tragic lost after another in Chile. I was glad I could lend a hand to Graciela, her niece, who I never would have heard of had I not met Elsa in an OT waiting room and she reached out to me, one mom to another.

Today I am thinking about how related we are once again. We are one big family, and there are all kinds of needs in our family. Autism is a part of our family, for better or worse.

I am writing from a professional development workshop. I came here full of excitement --- totally professionally pumped. I had to apply to get into this workshop, I had to work hard to make my application, and I looked at this trip as a bit of a graduation... me embarking on opportunities to think about something other than autism, to stretch my brain, to stretch my wings, to take on challenges. And I am loving it here at this workshop, and I am loving learning, and I'm loving connecting professionally. But are you ready for this? One of the best parts so far has been NOT "leaving autism behind." I mean, don't get me wrong, I had fun "flying solo" and relaxing in the airport with a magazine, but one of the best parts is realizing how, as much as I wish autism NEVER existed, it is a part of me, part of us all, and it can help us learn and connect. If you read here, you know I'm no cheerleader, and I rail against autism. But I can celebrate our community, and I can celebrate our children, our children who have autism, and our hope, our possibilities, our potential. It is EVERYWHERE.

See, when I got into this workshop, I had trouble getting a hotel room, so I took a chance and asked a woman who works at a sister school who also got in if we could be roommates. Last night when we were introducing ourselves to one another at the Marriott, she said to me, "My five year old son has autism."

Can you believe that I am OUT OF TOWN and still STAYED UP TOO LATE and didn't get enough sleep in a bed with all that thread count and delicious pillows? If you could see the BAGS under my eyes... OY.

My roommate and I have some serious stuff in common. Piles and loads and heaps and mounds of stuff in common. And we are very different. We talked about doctors and ABA and schools and meds and theories and guilt and denial and special talents and boys and potty training and husbands and working and IEPs and inclusion and special ed and movies and .... it helped.

And as we were talking I realized I'd been holding my breath when I arrived at the conference. I loved NOT talking about autism, on the one hand, but I also felt I was holding something back. Everyone was talking about their kids, and I felt I had something I wasn't saying. I do not love autism. I love a boy who has autism, and many families who love someone with autism. I can't "leave it behind." I can't leave being Jewish behind. I can't leave being married or short or neurotic behind.

Autism comes with me, and that isn't so bad. My family is ALWAYS with me. Wherever I go.

We're all a family. We have a lot of sisters.
Oh, I am learning A LOT at this conference. And I love it.


gretchen said...

Loved reading this happy post. Love you sister!

Kim said...

How amazingly wonderful to find another "sister" when you least expect it. Blogging about our life with our son has opened me up to so many "sisters" that I have never met face to face. It's an amazing support.

I have had the same experience sitting in a room full of people all talking about their children and the feeling that I am holding something back.
This is a wonderful post. So very well said.

pixiemama said...

Ditto Gretchen. How much your roommate must have loved meeting you... how wonderful it is to connect like that... how wonderful it is to get away and be your own person, no matter how briefly. Love, love, love you, sis.

Melissa said...

Oh, I know so well that feeling of "everyone was talking about their kids and I felt there was something I wasn't saying."


So very glad you are learning - and enjoying - the conference. (Although by now I think you are home, right?)

jess said...

i love this .. it's taken me a long time to start to break down the high walls of compartmentalization that i thought i needed to survive. and i'm finding the opposite to be true.

enjoy your time being you - every bit of you.