There’s an aspect of my path to acceptance that I’ve been reflecting on lately. While accepting Sophie as autistic and different was relatively easy, the other part of that was substantially more difficult- accepting myself as her mom. Let me explain that. Motherhood in the age of social media is a loaded affair. We are bombarded with articles and images of what a “good mother” is and does. Pinterest itself is a clip board of how we fail to measure up in the motherhood Olympics.How does Sophie play into this? Well with my older two, i could sometimes wing this “great mom” thing. I could throw a crafting, Pinterest-worthy birthday party (even before Pinterest!). I could bake goods for school celebrations and take them on whimsical adventures and feed them (or attempt to feed them) organic creations and otherwise assure myself that I am doing well. If all else failed, an impulse trip to the dollar store and a trinket later my Best Mom Ever status was restored.
But Soaps cares not for pretense. It’s refreshing and humbling at the same time. She couldn’t care less about cute little crafts or perfectly organized play dates and birthday parties and any other things I could whip up to dazzle her with my amazingness.Sometimes I worry she’s missing out. Or that I’m short changing her. It feels like parenting her is too effortless so I must be doing it wrong. Shouldn’t it take hard work and creative whimsy? Shouldn’t I be trying harder to impress her? Is it right that she’s happiest amusing herself and I go hours sometimes without needing to do something? Am I neglecting her?Once in a while something I come across triggers deeply-ingrained prejudices and leads me to self-doubt. Like Sophie’s constant iPad use at home (not just iPad, but only Thomas videos). And again it’s not related to Sophie’s differences, because if I really think about it I fully understand why she needs to have it. It somehow symbolizes my own shortcomings- “good moms” don’t allow their kids unlimited screen time. They bake, they create, they adventure together… Then post it on social media for everyone to admire.And so yea, I go online, I find some homemade sensory creation, I put time and energy and effort and for that time I feel like a great mom… And then she’s lukewarm to my reveal of This Wonderful Thing. Because she knows what she likes and she already has it. Likewise I browse through aisles of a toy store, picking up a wooden doo-dat here, or a retro-inspired thingy there- and putting them right back on the shelf because in my heart I know that none of these items matter to Sophie. Or I think of an event that’s sure to wow her and make memories forever… Then I realize that really she’d be happiest at the wading pool in our neighbourhood where we went hundreds of times and it’s still one of her favourites.And it might seem a silly thing to worry about. But guilt is a horrible emotion, and mother-guilt is the worst. Admitting to myself that Sophie doesn’t need a mom with any fancy trimmings or itineraries and her best playtime is her own making. That I don’t have to do or make anything, I just have to be, without props or fanfare, without distractions or special occasions. All she needs and wants is my love and my presence and it is enough. I am enough.