Friday, July 5, 2013

Fraternizing with Typical Folk

Today I met up with a local group of moms at a coffee house, with Vlad and Diva Girl in tow.

Crazy part of this story? They all had typical kids. It wasn't a meetup of the mom's in my special needs group, or of the ones from the autism therapy center. Just a group of local moms that generally follow attachment parenting. Did you even know that I did that? I'm a homebirthing, babywearing, former cloth diapering, cosleeping, hippie. Believe it or not, I have interests and an identity outside of autism.

Or at least, that's what I like to tell myself.

Honestly, I've stuck mostly with my autism mom friends for the past few years. I have a couple of close friends who have walked through this whole thing with me that have typical children, or no children at all. But in general, I don't go seeking out anyone outside of Autism World.

So, why did I this time? I'm not entirely sure. I guess that sometimes I get tired of my life revolving around autism, especially when there are other aspects of my parenting that I enjoy talking about. This group also meets up to walk/run/hike....all these things I think about doing and want to do, but never actually do. I've been a part of this group on facebook for a good 6 months and still hadn't attended a single meetup even though I had the best of intentions. Why? Because, well, I was scared.

I was scared that I would talk too much and have too little in common with them.
I was scared they would judge my kids. Judge my parenting.
I was scared that no one would talk to me.
I was scared that I wouldn't be able to shut up about autism.
I was scared that they would pity me.
I was scared that I would be jealous of them.

You know what? None of that happened. I mean, I did talk a bit too much about autism. Not sure if I can altogether help that. But I also talked about babywearing and beauty and houses and all these other gloriously normal things. My kids were great. Vlad tottered around and then passed out while snuggling with me in his carrier. Diva Girl munched on ice and crackers and played on her iPad. She may not have seemed social, but she had a blast. Everyone was nice. I laughed, and related, and was only slightly awkward. I didn't just survive that gathering, I actually enjoyed myself!

I can't help but wonder how many times I've deprived myself from going out and enjoying time with others based on those fears. They aren't completely irrational fears, I have good reasons for every one of them. People have been ignorant and hurtful at times. And at other times, I have been too deep in the depths of the grieving process to allow myself to enjoy the company of those who don't understand this journey. But I don't have a good reason to let those experiences stop me from trying again. It's not something that I allow from my children, so why should I push myself any less than I push them? You pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try again. Today, I'm glad I did.

Now, I have no idea what they thought of me. But I think I will go back. I think I can handle just a bit of life outside of the autism bubble. Here's to hoping that they let me stick around.

I confess: I tried really hard to make sure I at least looked normal today/

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