1. Wear your “Sunday’s best”.
Okay, so your child brings stares when you are in public. First of all, get used to it. It is going to happen from here on out. Second, make sure you wear your finest make-up, a great outfit, your finest shoes…heck, a great smile- give them something to look at.
2. Everything is copacetic.
Just like the hippy mantra of the 1970’s, “Everything is cool”. You are cool. Your child is cool. Know that.
3. Listen to Jon B.
This R&B crooner on the edge of greatness had a 1997 hit called, “They Don’t Know”. Allow me to quote a few of the lyrics: “You should know that you’re my angel…Nothing’s gonna make you fall from heaven… Don’t listen to what people say…They don’t know…” Ok, so while he’s singing to his lady, the lyrics are relevant here. People will misunderstand and say ignorant things to you. But they don’t know. Either educate them, or know they are not worth your time. Most say inappropriate things out ignorance rather than malice.[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5pD4nBabMk” fs=”1″]
4. Say “so what?” to the dishes!
Your child has an appointment with his doctor, you have dry cleaning to pick up, you told the parents’ group you’d bring your famous apple pie, your E-mail box is full, there are dishes falling out of the sink, and the aquarium needs cleaning. And guess what! Your child is now having an episode. What do you do? Let some of that stuff GO. Will it kill you to have the dishes wait one more day? Do you have to bake the pie when Safeway or Giant have great ones? Look at the most important things on that list and do them. Leave the rest for later! Really, the fish will forgive you.
5. Take a break “with a vengeance”.
Yes, like Bruce Willis’ movie, “Die Hard With a Vengeance”, take your down time with a vengeance. Own it. Relish it! And for goodness sake, don’t feel guilty. Wait, are you thinking that you don’t deserve it? Then…why are you taking it? Just think about that for a second. Could it be that you need it?
6. Grab gratitude!
There are those days where you remember that certain experiences may never happen for you and your child: You may never cry at her wedding. You may never have grandchildren. You may never attend his college graduation. You may never hear the words “I love you”. But, that is how life is – for everyone. Certain things you expect from life never come. I looked forward to spending time with my newborn at my mom’s house, all three of us bonding. But by the time I had my son, my mom was too frail to care for a baby. She was actually in a rehabilitation home, recovering from a fall, and had trouble caring for herself. She was also sad that she could not be there for me. But the part we missed – and realized later – was that it was a blessing for both of them to be here at the same time. My mother’s fall could have been much worse. We are now so thankful of the bond they share. The point is, be thankful for what you DO have!
Jacki Lewis is a full time student, completing her BA in Communications Studies at UMUC at Universities at Shady Grove. She earned her associate degree in Communications in 1989 and worked at the International Monetary Fund for 20 years in human resources before deciding to continue her education and change careers. She is also a board member of Lyn “Dancn” Club, Inc., an urban line dance group located in Mitchellville, MD. She came to Madison House Autism Foundation in January 2013 as a Communications Intern because she wanted to use her skills to support its mission and spread awareness on the need for residential options for autistic adults.