Thursday, November 23, 2023

Autism Answer: Growing Up Greedy


Family portrait

Parenting was my goal, ever since I can remember. I have learned more from teaching my children than I could have ever learned from chasing a dream with fewer people to care for. I am greedy. And so I filled my world with a lot of people to love.” ~Lynette Louise, aka "The Brain Broad"
aka my mom
She really did fill her world with a lot of people to love. 
I can confirm this statement of hers. 
As one of her children I was not only a witness to mom's active inclusion of people to love, I was not only one of the people she greedily loved, but I was also actively involved in learning to love.
When my mom was a little girl she planned her future with confidence: she would be the mother of many children - about twelve, she figured - and she would guide them with such love that her own upbringing would be washed away. There would be no trace of the abuse my mom lived through in the environment she would create for her children. At the time she didn't know anything about the cycle of abuse, but she did know it was not in any way okay to treat a child, a person, the way her mother treated her. And so, she would not. She would not treat anyone in such a way ever. Her love would be such a storm of goodness and fairness that any trace of the name calling and humiliation and beatings of her past would simply drown to death.
Mom was young when she had me. She was still young when my brother was born dead. By the time my sister was born my mom was almost twenty. She was twenty-three when she had to have a complete hysterectomy due to an infection. 
She had not reached her goal of twelve children, but she was crazy about the two of us she was raising. Always, mom put us first and cared so darn much about how we were treated. My sister and I were lucky little girls and were loved beyond measure. I wish our brother would have lived to be part of it. That love. 
But despite mom's best intentions, her own upbringing was insidious. Mom did not know how to love herself the way she so easily loved us. And whether you believe it or not, a certain kind of love for yourself is necessary for a healthy love of others to grow.

And here is the magic of my mom. She is, at her core, a genius who cares about children and outliers. Even as a little girl imagining her future she would see herself loving people who were having a hard time finding love. Not in a savior way, but in a "don't you see they are like me" way. She saw herself in the outliers, the unwanted, the unlovable. As she grew wiser, she saw all of us in everyone. 
Mom's biggest challenge was understanding how the rest of us could not see. It was so obvious to her that everyone was capable and everyone deserved to be seen for who they were, not what label they might be given. It was so obvious to her that she just couldn't see how so many of us were blind to it. 

So, the magic of my mom was this: help herself, learn to love herself, while gathering so many others to love.

My mom was fierce in her intention to create a healthy and loving environment. One that would guide us to independence and strength. She was always an example of that strength and always a seeker of her better self. What started as me, mom, and my sister became me, mom, my sister, two more sisters, and four brothers. And then there were a myriad of others who mom allowed into our lives for temporary help and guidance. There were also many she did not. Love means saying no, too. 

But we did have many. I remember a woman from... hmmm, I can't remember... Kenya? ... trying to raise money to bring her young son to Canada. I remember a teenager, a girl about the age of me and my sisters, with physical disabilities I can't quite recall but her body moved different from ours and one of her arms was misshapen. I don't remember her well but I do remember us girls sitting around chatting about the usual teenage girl stuff. And I admit to being surprised that her interests aligned precisely with ours. There was almost a boy from Columbia who we all wrote to and tried to learn a little Spanish for. After most of us kids had grown and only some of us were staying with her for different reasons at different times, there were more extreme cases. Mom was a renowned brain change and behavior expert by then so she helped an addict who no longer wanted to be an addict, she helped autistic people in extreme need.
These people willing to accept mom's help (not my siblings, the ones that came later) knew it was a temporary thing, something meant to fuel them with ideas and skills for the forward motion they were struggling to gain footing with. My mom is not the sort to help without a goal. In fact, she would likely see helping without a goal as the opposite of helping.
I don't always remember understanding mom's love for children who were unwanted or unloved, and admittedly I didn't always like being expected to learn to believe in everyone's potential and worth, but I did always learn. About others and about myself. 
I watched, also, as my mom learned about herself. As my mom grew healthier, stronger, happier, more balanced as a woman. As a mom. 
I do believe it is a wonderful idea to plan a certain amount of readiness before gathering people around you to take care of. I do. 
I just also believe that as we gather people to love and care for, we are going to realize that we are in need of more. We are going to discover new areas of unreadiness we will do well to examine, to change. 
“Parenting was my goal, ever since I can remember. I have learned more from teaching my children than I could have ever learned from chasing a dream with fewer people to care for. I am greedy. And so I filled my world with a lot of people to love.” ~Lynette Louise, "The Brain Broad"
Mom is greedy and fills her world with people to love.
In this way she encourages others to become people who love.
And this helps us become easier to love. 
We are not all like my mom. 
Be we are all capable and of value, we are all able to step up and over our own obstacles, and we are all responsible for doing so (this includes asking for help where it is required for forward motion).
I know this because my mom is like my mom. 
And she will not allow me not to know this. 
Not if I don't want to be grounded for a month. :D 
Hugs, smiles, and love!!! 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Autism Answer: Being Seen

A camera sitting on the floor

Warning: This post is about me and how I feel and how I think and what I notice.... oh, what's that? You already knew that? You have been here before and recognize a pattern? Yes, I see. Well, thank you? tee hee!

Confession: I am kinda bothered by the amount of plastic surgery, laser hair removal, fancy serums and other similar things that have become fairly commonplace.

In part I am bothered simply because I'm inclined to advocate for less manipulation of what is natural. I recognize in these procedures and items a desire to sculpt and bend and shave who we are until we like it better. Maybe to fit in, maybe to stand out. (I am impressed by the availability of these things, by the way. I am only bothered by how common they seem to have become.)

However (and here's the confession part) I am also bothered when I notice how popular these measures of manipulating our appearance have become because I worry I will appear increasingly unhappy and haggard and, well, yucky to look at, in comparison to my peers.

I admit, I hardly think about it. What I look like compared to my contemporaries, I mean. Maybe because I live a fairly sheltered life. I mean, I work from home, I am not obligated to attend meetings or video conferences, and my soul mate works here with me too, so I'm less likely to wonder if he's comparing me to other lovely ladies. (Our co-workers are also ladies, but they are of the feline variety. And since I am in charge of making appointments for them and doing their shopping, I am confident they are not having work done or spending lots of money on fancy creams that make them look fresh faced and healthy.)

I love wrinkles, my own and the ones on others. I love grey hair, I love the look of age on people and am happy when I see it on me. It's not aging I'm talking about.

I worry about looking unhappy or haggard, less fresh faced, less healthy.

For some reason I want, have always wanted, my happiness and energy to show, to be noticeable outside of myself. I don't remember how young I was when I stopped looking in mirrors, but I was fairly young. And it was because I would FEEL so happy and full of life, but then I would SEE just some pale, plain, girl. Not the energy I thought should be reflected.

Silly, I know. I am happy and I have happy energy regardless of whether it can be seen. Why do I want it to be seen?

Why do I want the me I feel like I am to be seen?

Why am I less content when it is only me who knows how I feel?

I'm not entirely sure. But just now, as I was typing this, I had a thought. I realize one of the reasons I want my natural way, my comfort with choosing to blossom naturally (while caring about myself at the same time, I don't mean to infer that I don't try to manipulate to some degree by being careful of what I put in my brain and body) is that I want my beliefs to be valid to others. I want to be seen as having a point with potential.

Like, if I say I am comfortable with myself and find strength in feeding my body and mind nutritiously, that I try to make sure not to live too sedentary a life in order to stay healthy-ish, that I am happy in my choices, that I feel it is enough to be me naturally, I want to be believed. To be seen as making sense.

And, darn it, that means I want to be seen as happy and healthy. Not haggard and yucky.

But when so many people are taking advantage of the more extreme versions of looking that way, I worry I will seem less so by comparison.

Silly, right?

Wanting to be seen is not silly.

Parents of children with differences and disabilities work hard to ask for that on behalf of their children because it is not only not silly, but necessary and urgent.

But wanting to be seen as happy and healthy just to prove my point is valid?

That's silly.


Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!!