The Complicatedest Thing Ever

My friend Shasti writes about life with her daughter, whom she calls Girlfriend.  Her words just pour from her heart.  They are raw, they are powerful, they display such love for her beautiful child.  Below is one of her pieces.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

By Shasti McLaughlin Mother of one on spectrum, Writer, ASL Interpreter, Optimist

My writing is rusty. My hands aren’t sure how to use these keys. But I’ve got something in me and I feel it needs to come out. So here I go.

There are changes happening with my girl. She’s growing up, getting herself a little bit of an attitude in good and…er…less than good ways…depending on who’s looking at it and from which direction.

Something occurred to me the other day.

This girl of mine; well I could never own her, so she’s technically not mine…I like that by the way. She’s herself. Herself. And she prefers it that way. As do I.

She is becoming a bit argumentative and short when making responses, she’s occasionally cranky in her actions when she feels she’s being interrupted either physically while doing an activity, or verbally within a conversation. It has been nerve-wracking and has caused much tongue biting on my part as of late. Sometimes I don’t bite my tongue and then I regret how harshly my words were delivered. I of course have no one to blame but myself around that. I try not to hang onto my disappointment in myself for very long. Most of the time I’m MOSTLY successful, the other times…well…I don’t want to think about that. I’ll have time for thinking about it upon waking at 3:00am because I think about things too much. Which is why I’m a writer. So that will I stop thinking so much. Good luck, Shasti.

Forgiving myself is a painful process, but it shouldn’t be. Should. Shouldn’t. I am not fond of either one of those words…sigh. Nonetheless, to forgive myself is difficult and I blame perfectionism. It’s silly, really. For one, I’m a person with limitations as well as inconsistencies. For another, I just sometimes get so over-anxious. Over-analytical. Over-critical. Mostly of myself, of Girlfriend (the name I give my daughter in my writing) sometimes.

I have been getting overly-critical of myself, thinking that it must be something I am doing wrong that is causing this child of mine (there it is again!) to behave so impatiently, so rudely at times. So, well, bitchy quite frankly.

Then I realized something.

Everyone thinks like this if they have a child that they care about and love and take care of and feel love toward and want to be happy and well-loved by others and …

Eight VERY short years ago, the idea of Girlfriend possibly having autism was introduced to me and not by anyone in the outside world either. It was by me and my experience with it previous to my daughter’s birth. I never mentioned it to anyone as it terrified me.

I was to give birth to the Best. The Smartest. The One With the Most Talent. The one well-loved by young and old alike. The person with the highest amount of Grace, Compassion, and Ease around the World and Those in it.

Instead what I had noticed was her INability to walk, talk, move, and play in the order it was presented to me by outside sources. I had then placed that information into the file cabinet in my head at some point. I took that (those?) file(s) out and compared my findings of this person in my life with that of the findings of others. This was frightening. I never blamed myself for the results in my findings. I never blamed my family, my genetics, my doctor, my husband, his genetics, his family nor was I even thinking in terms of the how. That came later, but briefly and swiftly then off that went into the oblivion because I had too much to think about by then. Who cares how it got here? I just wanted to know what to do with it now.

Well. Eight years like I said has gone quickly.

I never in a MILLION years would have thought, based upon what I was getting told by doctors, teachers, researchers and so on and so forth that I would be concerned about my non-verbal daughter’s snarky comebacks when I ask her questions or want to engage in a conversation that I am now confident that she can do.

Or would I have thought that? Did I think about that? Perhaps not the attitude, no. My daughter is uniquely talented, engagingly sweet, outrageously compassionate; stunningly beautiful, frighteningly intelligent and her grace is surpassed by… well… no one that I know.

I never lost sight of her Abilities, despite what I was being told. I am not blaming anyone for my anguish, although that does come up from time to time. But my daughter is developing as children do. She is developing how she wants to do it, in a time that she feels is right, using tools and gifts and talents that suit her and that she feels comfortable using.

I never want her to be something that she is not. I want her to be happy and content. To have what she needs when she needs it. To have what she wants when she wants it. This child is who she is because I and my husband have given her the best we know how and allowed her to figure out the rest. As difficult as that is to do, we’ve done it.

The crankiness that I am seeing as of late is her reaction to the things around her. Within her. I am reacting much the same way. She is a child becoming a young woman. She can do this. And I never stopped believing that. It dawned on me as I continued to write just now that I have never one time ever in my life given up thinking that she can be what she wants to be and that I can be there for it.

I ALSO have never given up allowing for her to do it in the way(s) that make the most sense to her.

Which is a struggle… but only for me.

I believe I am doing this well. The mother thing. So far. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

She is brilliant. Learning from her is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The compicatedest thing ever.

God how I love that girl.

About the Author

Shasti McLaughlin

Shasti McLaughlin

Mother of one on spectrum, Writer, ASL Interpreter, Optimist

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