About Me

My photo
A slightly insane mother to three girls ages 11,11, and 5. I live/love to find the humor in being a parent.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Am Her Mother

An open letter to to the lady at the mall ( you know who you are).

Dear ignoramus a.k.a dumb lady,

I heard you loud and clear. I heard you above the screaming of my child ( she was quite loud) in the noisy food court. If you happen across this blog, you know who you are. You are the person who said to her friend " If that were my daughter..."  You might remember me because I actually stopped for a second at your table looked you in the eye and proudly stated " That is my daughter and she is autistic."

I really should have said more, but I was hurrying to get to her and help calm her down.  My husband was there trying to calm her and deal with the other two, and frankly, my family is much more important than you. but now I have the time, and the words to say what I wanted to say at that moment.

Thank God, she is not your child! Thank God she is my child! I hate to think how awful her life would be with a woman like you as her parent.  Throughout my time as her mother I have heard people tell me how fortunate Rachel is because I "get it", because I was an special education teacher long before I was a mother and am equipped to be her parent.  I have often doubted this insight because parenting is tough, and nothing can really prepare you for being a mother. However, you have helped me to really see that Rachel is better off with me as her mom. Not because I have a degree in special education, but because I am able to see past people like you who judge. I can look you in the eye and proudly state , "I am her mother, and I am a damn good one too!"

I can now take the time to tell you how stupid you looked to other people in that food court who understood what was really happening. They saw how I was able to calm her down in seconds by giving her a bear hug and helping her cover her eyes and ears to the sensory chaos that she was experiencing.  They saw my four year old sitting patiently while I tended to Rachel's needs. They saw you fussing and fretting over something that lasted all of 30 seconds.

Twenty minutes later, as my family was finishing up at the table, an extremely nice women and her teenage son came over to tell us what a beautiful family we had and how crazy you were.  Can you believe that? My 10 year old daughter screams at a mall, and you are the one who ends up looking awful.

Thank God you are not her mother.

signed,
her mother

31 comments:

  1. Thank you, I felt so much better after writing this. Sometimes you write for an audience, and sometimes like this post, you write for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. [snark] You'd think with all the puzzle piece ribbons, everyone would get it by now.. [/snark]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah, not so much. I love it when people say "artistic" instead of autistic. I always picture Rachel with a little beret in front of a canvas...

      Delete
  3. Oh my goodness do I know EXACTLY what you are talking about! I have 2 sons (now 15 and 16) and the youngest was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, OCD and Sensory Disregulation Disorder all around age 3. We were a walking disaster when we were out in public sometimes! I had more people than I can remember make their share of snide, rude, out of line comments to my face and to people around us when my youngest had a meltdown in a public space. Sometimes I had the energy to say something and sometimes I did not (I have been a single parent since the youngest was diagnosed.). As we got better at handling public meltdowns, we all go more bold in shutting down the obnoxious people. Now we always find a way to help a parent who we see in a similar situation when we are out an about. Some people really just don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always try to let my fellow "mom's in crisis" know how great they are doing as well if I spot similar situations. I will say that I never knew how good it felt to be on the positive end of a comment until that "angel" came up to me and told me how beautiful my family was. Keep on letting others know that you are understanding, I certainly will!

      Delete
  4. oh you dear girl. I can feel the weight lifted off your shoulders after writing this. What an idiot she was.

    Or, another perspective is - I'm thankful for her. She taught every single person in that food court a lesson in judgment, and a lesson in how to handle such negativity (I thought your response was just perfect). Most importantly, your bear hug was a lesson in love. And that's what really matters.

    Amanda Hill
    www.hillpen.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) I have to say I did feel so much better getting it "off my shoulders". You make a good point in that woman did give a lesson in judgement. I only hope she learned herself!

      Delete
  5. This was great. I shared it today with the people who read my blog. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I have hauled her half naked butt out of bookstores and restaurants as she was yelling and crying while people sneered and "pfffth"ed. Their negativity fueled me, made me stronger and more determined to be the shelter from the storm my daughter needed and revealed to me a capacity to love and protect that I am proud of. Thanks for this brave, amazing blog and for being a stellar human being. xo Nikki

    ReplyDelete
  6. reading this made me realised why i need to put my family first everyday. thank u. keep writing and sharing as we would be worse off when you stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, I have always been a "writer", but my family is my inspiration :)

      Delete
  7. My brothers were never diagnosed but I highly suspect autism, my mother took the line 'if the punishment isn't working you're not hitting hard enough'. She broke my nose at 14 for refusing to eat my dinner so you can imagine what my little brothers copped when they lost control. I wish you'd been their mother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It breaks my heart to hear what you and your brothers went through. Just know that everything we experience in life is the sum of who we are. You can only build up from the negative, keep looking forward and be there for your brothers.

      Delete
  8. I'm getting bombarded by examples of things-that-could-be-my-kids today. You are far too kind. I would have wanted to punch that woman, nevermind the terrible example I'd have been setting for my kids.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello Amy. I happen to read your blog at BlogHer and because of the many who commented I just decided to share it in my Facebook wall where I noted " Thank God I am not alone."

    Funny how some parents become pathetic when they generalize that their disciplinary tactics work with other kids . Your post had touched me to the core of my being because that also happened to me. And in my mind, I silently told that pregnant mother who said that my autistic son is in dire need of discipline this. " You will never understand the pain of having a child with autism until you have one and blessed be that day."

    I can proudly say I am now a follower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. The response to my post has also affected me in much the same way. It is nice to feel that you are not alone, that many others have been in that same place.

      Delete
  10. My autistic son is 18 now, but I have so been in your shoes. Sounds like you are doing a great job.
    Sandy

    ReplyDelete
  11. You don't know me, and I don't know you, this the first time reading your blog, a friend of mine posted this on her facebook. All I have to say is, GOOD FOR YOU! It's amazing what people will say and sadly judge. Good for you for having the courage to say something! I applaud you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, there are way to many people out there who claim to know all the solutions to what you are doing wrong from a split second judgement. The more I think about what happened the more I think I still would have said something even if it was my 4 year old having the meltdown. No one ( with the exception of my own mom!) should be telling me how to parent my child after observing my family for 30 seconds.

      Delete
  12. As you are aware, you are a fabulous parent! It always amazes me that women, especially, seem to be so critical of other women. I don't have a child on the spectrum, but I do have children who have melted in public places (always in public places, why???). It is embarrassing enough to have a child fall to pieces and have to discipline them publicly, and it makes it so much worse when there are people sneering and jeering at you while you are going through the process. As if it isn't bad enough you have a temper tantrum to deal with. Keep you head held high, do what you feel is right, and keep trudging. Most of all know that you have amazing friends (like me - LOL) next to you and supporting you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It is so nice to discover an entire community of parents who "get it" as I have with this last post of mine. I will continue to hold my head high and look people is the eye who judge.

      Delete
  13. BRAVO. Tears in my eyes at the power of this piece. She was in the wrong, totally. I'm so glad you had the strength to say something to that woman while soothing your daughter.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very well said! I stumbled on your blog from BlogHer and I just wanted to let you know that I applaud you! I have two children with special needs and have had quite the stares and conversations spoken about me in public. The stares and comments get really old and unless you have been in these "shoes" you just can't get it. I couldn't imagine that woman having children let alone children with special needs!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Just found your post on BlogHer. I have so been in your shoes, as I have a seven year old who was just diagnosed with anxiety and mild Tourette's Syndrome. I've been in the mall, at grocery stores, at the library while my son was melting down, and had to block out the stares. Now that we know what's wrong, I'm so glad that I put him above my own uncomfortable feelings when we were getting those judgmental looks. Thanks for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm not a Mom but was moved by your open letter nonetheless. I am so, so, so sick of those who judge. Seriously. And I appreciate when those who do are put in their appropriate place. So I applaud you --- loudly!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for writing this. As a child life specialist I have dealt with my fair share of ignorant comments while on outings with my patients, but I am not a mother. I applaud your strength in saying anything to that woman at all. She didn't deserve your time, but in speaking to her you spoke up for mothers everywhere who are blessed with special children who need that extra bit of love and comfort. Your generosity in sharing will help many.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really has surprised me how many people have responded to this post! I wrote it because I was frustrated ( this was not the first time I had had this experience) and just could not keep it inside me any longer. Since the outpouring of support I feel so much better that so many other have felt the same way.

      Delete
  18. Thank you for writing this. I am a Mother of 3 littles who are all normal, healthy, curious, rambunctious children. I can't imagine dealing with special needs on top of everything else. This was a wake-up call for me to stop paying attention to the judgements of others, and to just let my kids be themselves.

    ReplyDelete