Autism Mama and Imposter Syndrome
Sometimes I feel that he deserves more, way more. Imposter syndrome often creeps up on me, alongside the weight of burnout and relentless anxiety. But my love for him and my determination to create happiness in his life on a daily basis are what really motivate me. As a stay-home mom, it is challenging to keep that energy level constant. So when I fall in my low points, doubt controls all. Am I doing things right?
My son is autistic and he is turning 11 years old in less than 3 weeks. I am not sure where time has gone, but we are definitely approaching a preteen zone and I am dreading it, kind of. Not knowing what to expect creates that overwhelming anxiety. These next few years will be a period to prepare, to learn, to read more, to observe closer and above all, to listen to him. Just like every child is different, every autistic child is different too. There are general guidelines at the reach of us all, but at the end of the day, all you can trust and depend on is your instincts and your ability to adapt.
We are all human beings forging our own paths through life. The protective mamabear in me would just want to hold his hand for all time. But the tough-love mama in me would rather see my son find his own way, follow his dreams and happiness, flourish independently, even if we live in a harsh cruel world, grow at his own pace without the pressure of society, find love, find lasting friendships, be a kind, resilient and confident young adult, and maybe - wishful thinking - someday, he would be able to sustain himself on his own. Although this last statement is one of my greatest fears, I keep faith in my heart and trust in both me and my husband that our choices will lead to our son’s present and future happiness.
I don’t want to be known as the helicopter parent, always hovering over my child, no matter how old he gets. Instead, I’ll try to be the visible guardian angel, sitting in a waiting room, ready to protect anytime I am needed. That way, I will not be erasing off too much of my protective and overthinking nature. That’s just how I am; and admitting that change is inevitable is always hard. Time and change are inevitable. The only thing I can really do is to constantly try to perceive the world from his eyes and to project positive thinking. My son’s little bubble of creative chaos, sensitivity and pure-heartedness leaves eternal imprints on my heart. It is so breathtaking to think that he was a late talker, yet now he dazzles me with his short sentences, making his words dance between English and Arabic. He may not be able to conduct long conversations, but his short affirmations are healing and inspiring.
How to manage occasional doubt and imposter syndrome? Self love and looking at the big picture. We all have our favorite self-care solutions, so make sure you make time for yourself. Don't underestimate this brief separation of your daily routine. Trust me, it makes all the difference, so go for an activity that truly makes you happy. As for looking at the big picture, it is important to step away sometimes and remind yourself of your small and big accomplishments. Find comfort in talking to your partner, communication is a game-changer. An outside opinion from a trusted close family member or a dear friend can also help you see things from a different angle, and help validate your efforts, motivate you and get you out of that funky mood and negative thinking. Other people might prefer support groups, where autism parents sharing their experiences can ease our own. We are social beings so we thrive among each other, whether we are extroverts or introverts. Don't lock negativity inside you, always find a way to regenerate your energy.