Mommypants Moment – I am the mother
Today’s Mommypants moment is from an amazingly talented writer, Varda of The Squashed Bologna. Varda to me is an artist. Her words always move me, and her post Autist to Artist is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Varda in person and she’s as lovely as you’d imagine.
I have worn (and nearly worn out) many a pair of Mommypants in the eight and a half years my twin sons have been on this earth.
Like most everyone else, I pulled on my first pair right at the start, during that part of my C-section when they were putting me back together. Along with my guts being sealed in, those Mommypants were being stitched right onto my body, girding my loins for all that might lie ahead.
I had to put in for my first upgrade about 6 months later.
I’d had twins. Unlike many new parents who only intimately know their one child, this allowed me to see where Jake’s development was not mirroring and keeping pace with his brother Ethan’s. I could compare and contrast, and the red flags went up.
Most other people did not see things this way, unfortunately. I was pretty much patted on the head, treated like a “neurotic first time mommy.” Accused of hallucinating troubles.
But I felt it in my gut, knew it was significant that Jacob’s eyes would only hold mine for mere seconds, slide away in search of shiny spinning things to delight in. Knew he should be rolling over, sitting up easier, sooner and with more enthusiasm; less enamored of the flat floor. It drove me around the bend.
So I turned in my old Mommypants for the cast-iron variety worn by every parent who notices her child is not developing quite right, and yet is taken about as seriously as a baby chick. I needed that extra support.
I needed it to endure the weariness, the wariness in our pediatrician’s voice when I called yet again to discuss my concerns about Jacob on one of his “off” days, when he seemed somehow absent, was paler, had dark circles under his eyes, looked more like a middle-aged insomniac than a baby.
I was told it was likely to be those small viruses that kids get. But really? One or two days a week? Every week? For months on end? “There, there dear, there’s nothing to worry about, maybe strawberries just don’t agree with him.” Grrrrrrrrr.
And then at a year when the boys weren’t talking. At all. It didn’t matter that I was wearing the cast-iron Mommypants, no one would listen to me. At all.
Still, more head patting, more platitudes: they were twins, they were boys, they usually start later. But it wasn’t just the not talking with Jake, I could sense something more: he seemed so out of it. Ethan at least listened to us, Jake was in his own world so much of the time, so lost.
And I was being treated like a neurotic helicopter parent, a know-nothing newbie, a whacko. Being told to not worry my pretty little head about it made me feel crazy. Literally. I began to doubt my experiences, my sanity.
At 18 months, a year after I began making noises, still not talking, at all, Jake and Ethan were finally referred to Early Intervention. Ethan was a quick fix, Jacob a whole other story. I have told this tale before, will not go into the details again, but want to add this:
I weep when I think of the time wasted, the most neurologically flexible time in my son’s life when nothing was done, because no one else was willing to see what I saw. I am the Mother, they should have trusted my vision.
And then, when Jake was just a little over two years old, I learned there is a whole other level of Mommypants that exists, as Jacob received his first Autism diagnosis and my world shifted a bit to the left forever, and I was instantly inducted into the Autism Mom Army.
And yes, there is a special set of Mommypants for that: the military grade Mommypants, the Kevlar version with room in the back pockets for rockets.
These Mommypants have all kinds of James Bondian features that allow you to jump into special ops mode at a moment’s notice: full medic kit, research laboratory, and set of rocket launchers for when you just have to destroy an old structure to put up something new in its place.
There is a special pair of Mommypants you put on for IEP meetings that let you sit there with people who are writing a document that will expand or contract your child’s possible future when they know nothing about your child, and furthermore it is clearer with every ticking moment that their loyalties lie with the dollar and not the best interests of your child. That they really. do. not. care.
These are the moments those military issue Mommypants were made for. They keep your guts from spilling out on the table, help you to coolly smile and be reasonably polite to people you would like to shred limb from limb for their callous indifference.
But instead you speak quietly yet firmly of your child and his needs; toss off legal terms like “least restrictive environment” and “academically appropriate” like you use them every day. Because you do. Because these military grade Mommypants? Also come with a Special Education Law library.
What wonderful, useful things, these Mommypants. Thanks, Cheryl, for pointing out to me that I was wearing them. They fit just right, I think I’ll keep them.