How do you do it?
People often ask me, “how do you do it,” with regard to raising a severely autistic child. And, “how do you stay happy? Or, “how do you manage to have a social life?”
The thing is, these questions are all linked. I stay happy most of the time because I get breaks, and try to balance my day and week with different activities. And now, I have a social life. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who doesn’t mind staying home with the boys so I can enjoy a girls’ night out as often as I need them. In return, I do the same for him. I think we need that time for ourselves, time out of the house, to remind ourselves that although we’re parents, we’re also human beings. While we have a lot of responsibilities as the parents of a severely autistic child, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun beyond that title of special-needs-parent.
Going out with friends
I’ve been itching to go out more lately. Maybe because things have been bad with Charlie at home. Some may call it escape, but to me it’s about balance. It’s therapeutic. These few hours a night when I’m with my friends refresh me, and I can honestly say that the more social time I get, the better mom I am. I’ve always had that need to have fun, but hadn’t allowed myself to in a while. For the first time in a long time, I’m allowing myself to do it this year, and it feels good.
So this goes out to moms and dads. If, like me, you’ve ever felt shame about going out at night, seeing your friends, having fun, or wanting to steer away from kid-talk and hang out with people who aren’t parents, you have nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone. You matter as a parent, but you matter as a person too, and you should honor both sides of yourself.