It’s Valentine’s Day, but hearts and flowers aren’t really on my mind. What’s on my mind is more a sort of love letter to myself. To reassure myself that I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. You see, when I was a little girl, I was very insecure. I didn’t feel pretty. I didn’t feel okay. I never even thought about my wedding, the way a lot of little girls do, because I didn’t think I was lovable enough to get married…
There weren’t a lot of reasons for me to feel the way I did, because my parents were loving and my big brother adored me (regardless of our never-ending fights). But I was insecure anyway. I always felt different, “less-than,” and inadequate. I spent my life trying to prove that I was successful, but I never felt it.
When I was 30, I met my husband, Sean, and a lot of things changed for the better. Sean loved me unconditionally, and he helped me to feel better about myself, and to release a lot of the old insecurities I had lived with. But then my son was diagnosed with autism, and I got to see that my “freedom” from insecurity was actually superficial, and not real freedom at all. I still judged myself, still walked around as a “human doing” rather than a human being, and still felt the need to prove myself. I turned Ben’s autism into a recipe for self-flagellation and guilt, and spent many years in that mindset.
Finally I got some help, and learned that Ben’s autism wasn’t actually a reflection of my pathetically inadequate mothering skills, but rather an opportunity for me to learn how to love another being without conditions, without him needing to measure up to my vision of who he was supposed to be. I also learned that I had to love myself with that same unconditional approach, if I was going to really help Ben become all he could be in this life.
Since that time, I have spent my life reinventing my vision of myself, my perspective on love, and my way of life. I have transformed into a happier, healthier, and more integrated version of me. But I know what it’s like to be on the other side: lost, hopeless, lonely, and my own worst enemy.
And that’s why I do what I do. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been in the dark with autism and tough feelings, and I found my way out, into the light.
I’ve been there, and I can help.
So, and to be honest with you, I don’t always feel like I know how to navigate this online sphere. My former insecure feelings resurrect themselves, and cause me to wonder if I have anything to offer, and whether I should in fact return to being a homemaker, and just focus on my children, my husband, and our life together.
But then I have a conversation with an Autism Mom in Boston. As we talk and she hears our story, I hear the hope ignite in her. Or I have a Facebook dialogue with a mom in Croatia, and she tells me that my Autism Mom’s Self-Care System has helped her feel better about her life. Or I speak to a couple in Chicago, and they ask me tactical questions about how to work on their son’s autistic symptoms, and they leave the conversation with confidence that they can help their child.
And then I realize that I really want to keep doing what I’m doing—whether I’m insecure or not. I just want to help, and I absolutely love families. So here’s my Valentine’s letter, to myself:
Keep doing what you love.
Do it for the right reasons.
Don’t worry about whether you’re good enough… Do it because you LOVE IT.
Can you relate to any of these feelings? Do you sometimes feel inadequate as a mother? If so, you are so, so, so not alone!! Leave me a comment below to share your experience…
And have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!