Sunday, September 27, 2009

Send In The Clowns

I've always loved to watch my children sleeping. Their soft faces cradled underneath prayer hands, cheeks flushed and hair damp with warmth -- to me, there is nothing so beautiful as that. Sometimes, when Sean is asleep, I will lie down next to him and hold him close, my palms on his beating chest and I will try to transfer as much love as I have to his heart -- to make a connection that transcends everyday affections. A love that will wash over him, that might provide some comfort, even healing. I have always put a lot of faith in love -- and now I have to believe that it could possibly save my son from retreating further into autism.

As silly as it may sound, it’s not nearly as silly as all the promises floating out there to cure autism and to recover our children. There was a time I believed in a lot of it. I removed all the gluten and casein in his diet for 9 months. It didn’t save him. I removed soy products for 3 months. It didn’t save him. I gave him enzymes. It didn’t save him. I gave him high doses of vitamin B-12. It didn't save him. I fed him only organic. It didn't save him. So I gave up on the notion of rescuing my son from the tower of Autism -- from donning my suit of armor and lugging battle axes over my weary shoulders and I climbed off my horse and fell to my knees and refused to move one tired muscle.

Truth is, I am no longer a warrior mom and I am okay with that. I have retired -- a five star general no longer pouring over maps and planning invasions. I needed to gather my strength for things that matter. No more birthday cake made out of potato flour and rice milk (hear the chorus of Woo-hoo from my children), no more sneaking vitamins into juice and no more selling my kidney and corneas to shop at exclusive grocery markets for expensive, hard-to-find items. It was time to find out what I was good at doing. And you know what? I discovered that the simplest things, holding my son while he sleeps, whispering in his ears that his Mommy loves him and is so proud of the boy he’s become, seems to work.

Autism is not a one size fit all disorder. It’s a spectrum that presents itself very uniquely with each diagnosed child. So why should we believe that there is a blanketed cure? This may work for some children and help alleviate symptoms and I am happy for those who find relief. There's nothing wrong with giving it a try. But, unfortunately, these cures often don't work for most children with autism. Why put that perception out there, anyways? This idea that autism is “curable.” It’s counterproductive to most of us who are doing all that we can and finding that solutions are not so easy as a vitamin supplement or diet change.

It’s dangerous to push this message out there into the public. What’s not to stop people from thinking,

“Well why don’t you just cure your child?”

Wouldn’t we all if it were that easy? As a community, we already feel stigmatized. This message that as a mother we have the power to cure our children just isn't realistic nor healthy.

There is a lot of pressure to be the Mom who not only can iron her Super Mom Cape with one hand but also peel potatoes and help with homework with the other. And it’s okay to not be that mom. Heck it’s close to impossible to be that mom. It’s perfectly fine to be the mom who puts on the red nose and rainbow colored wig and acts silly and lives in the moment. I can no longer join the ranks of the warrior mother. Instead, I am a clown mother. I want to pack myself into a mini-cooper with a bunch of clown moms and head out for a night of fun. I don’t want to obsess over how to "fix" my child but instead learn to accept him for the boy he is. I don’t want to sit in a chair with a Kleenex box in my lap anymore. I’m opting for a night with friends, a pitcher of margaritas and karaoke. Life is hard. Why make it harder than it already is?

I used to laugh a lot. I used to be so much fun. I want it back. I want to be happy -- in the moment -- unafraid of what my future holds and content with the life I have led so far. So for now, no more extreme changes in diet or supplements. Happiness, love and laughter seem to be the best medicine at the moment.


Anonymous said...

You mean Jenny McCarthy may possibly be misinformed? This shakes at the very foundation of every thing I believe!

Katie Donohue Bevins said...

Mike, Thanks for the laugh! xoKatie

Mike said...

Sorry. This commenting system is apparently too complicated for me to master. I didn't intend to be "anonymous"↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑.

Shannon said...

(Watch out Katie. Now that Mike can get into your blog he might try to overtake it.) Love this blog entry! Is there such thing as a warrior clown? I think that's kind of what you are. Love to the family. Sorry I didn't see Sean and Bob today. Fiona had a good time with Sean.

Katie Donohue Bevins said...

I love the Warrior Clown!!! Yes. That's good.
Hey, if Mike gets into my blog does that mean it will be overtaken with Cubs/Bears/Blackhawks live streams and updates??? Glad that Sean and Fiona got to chill together. He wanted to pack more Wiggles but I told him Fiona had enough Wiggles stuff!

jsanta said...

I got the margaritas and I will get a karaoke machine. love and miss you. Jude

Katie Donohue Bevins said...

Jud, Scsry thing is I already have a karaoke machine (this is not my proudest moment) -- it was for Charlie's birthday party. Come on by and we can sing the soundtrack from Mermaids!