This is a very different episode then the ones I’ve done in the past, so you will have to bear with me. I have had a lot on my mind and I wanted to share that with you. I feel like there is a lot of stuff going on in my life and it really ties in to special needs parenting. I have gotten clarity about why I am even here, doing this podcast, and why I have such a passion to talk to parents with kids that have special needs.
Grieving The Loss Of My Mom
My mom passed away a couple weeks ago. I don’t even know how many days it’s been. During this time, I am learning about myself and how I grieve this loss. I thought that my whole life, losing my mother would be the easiest death to get over. When she passed, I’d be able to breathe and so much weight I’ve carried would finally be lifted. I wouldn’t have to be stressed out or try to figure out how to navigate a difficult relationship. Now, I feel the complete opposite; remorse, regret, and intense sadness.
The reason I want to talk about the loss of my mom is because it hits very close to home when it comes to special needs parenting. If you haven’t lost anyone recently, or experienced a great loss, but you’re going through something hard, like raising a child who is different than expected, then I think you will relate.
Who I Am Speaking To On My Podcast
When you learn how to have a podcast or youtube channel or a business and you are setting up an Instagram page or Facebook page, and you want to speak to any kind of audience, one of the first things you learn is that you shouldn’t speak to a group of people, just one specific person you picture or an “avatar.” With every piece of content you put out, you are supposed to be talking to that person. And I realize that the person I am speaking to for my avatar or audience is my grandmother. The grandmother that was a young mom, raising her daughter, and having no idea what just fell in her lap. Because my mom had special needs and no one ever told me. No one ever said that out loud. The word special needs, autism, or mental illness weren’t used to describe my mom.
My mom had my brother and I, but she wasn’t fit to be my mom. I spent my early childhood on the streets of Sacramento. There is a bad part of Sacramento that you don’t want to grow up in and that’s where I was born. My brother, mom, and I would go from house to house, or live in a drug house, or trailer. I have a lot of memories before the age of five because a lot of them were traumatic. My mom would leave us, so my brother would have to take care of me, and sometimes we wouldn’t eat for days at a time. I experienced abuse from a horrible boyfriend that my mom had, and at one point, my mom and her boyfriend began making meth out of our garage. She eventually got arrested and my brother and I moved in with my grandparents.
The Turning Point in My Childhood
I always knew that from the time I was five, living with my grandparents was a gift from God. It’s when I knew God was real. I knew there had to be something bigger at play to rescue us and place us in the loving area of my grandparents. Because of that, we had an amazing childhood. My grandparents became legal guardians and we were involved in church and went to school. We were nurtured and loved and cared for. They raised two kids, and then raised two more. They were our parents. I called them grandma and grandpa but they were really mom and dad.
My Relationship With My Mom
I felt like I never understood my mom. When I was little, I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. It was something we weren’t supposed to talk about. My mom got out of prison when I was eleven or twelve. I was so excited to spend time with her. But it was one disappointment after another, and then there would be an amazing memory with her, and then more disappointment. And that’s how my childhood and teenage years were. A handful of super great moments and the rest was just complicated.
My grandparents would bail her out or buy her a new car. She would get involved with the wrong kind of person. It was always picking up after my mom. I was my grandmother’s therapist and I was the person she would vent to. It was a big cycle. I had so much resentment towards my mom because of that. And could only believe that she was just a burden on our family. She always got a pass and I just didn’t think it was fair. She became addicted to a lot of drugs and was always high. I just never understood her. It’s weird for me to say this, but my mom’s death is the hardest one I have had to grieve because we had so many things that weren’t settled.
What I Learned About My Mom
When Remy was being diagnosed with autism, I started doing all kinds of research. I learned about repetitive behavior, sensory issues, allergies to food, and I started to realize that my mom fit all of those things. When I started looking at the criteria that explained autism, I was thinking, “I didn’t know there was a word for this kind of person. That what I’ve known my whole life had a name and that it was autism.”
The reason that my grandma is my avatar for everything I create is because, I wish I could talk to her, as a young mom, raising a daughter with special needs that she didn’t understand. I wish I could talk to her and tell her to accept my mom. Had I known that my mom had special needs, I feel like my entire life would’ve been different. I would have understood a little bit more than I did.
I am clear about the fact that my mom was put into my life to point me in the direction that I am starting to head towards right now. While I thought she had the littlest impact on my life, I realize she had the biggest one. I look back and see that all of that, who my mom was and grandma was, who my special needs daughter is, where I am in my life, all of that is for a purpose. A purpose I couldn’t see my entire life. Now I am starting to see it, but it took all of that to make me realize I am here to make a difference in the world of special needs families.
- If you are ashamed to tell anybody that your child has special needs, you might think you are protecting them. You are worried that people will say bad things. But I want you to challenge yourself, is that true?You can’t hide your kid’s quirks. But if they know, it’s an opportunity for people to learn what autism is. That’s the first step of our world accepting autism and special needs.
- Even when you feel like you don’t know what you are doing, even though you don’t know, you’re gonna figure it out and your life will be blessed because of your child. They are not here to blend in and be like everyone else. You will grieve the things you miss out on, but there are also other things that no other child could give you.
- When you can get rid of those fantasies and embrace the child you have, you will realize you are so much more blessed than you could imagine. Our world needs to change and be more aware. There needs to be a more accepting world so that Remy and children like her can have the things they need to be successful adults. But it starts with us as parents accepting exactly who they are. It will look different, but if you can do that, you will live the life you’ve always dreamed.
- I understand you. If you feel like you are alone right now in your grieving process, it is because you were meant to carry this. No one else can help you with it or support you in the way you are looking for. You have to get through this yourself. But it is in your life to change you and to help you become a different and more purposeful version of yourself.
- Having open conversations and dialogue about your child and their diagnosis will help them feel understood and accepted. If you keep it hidden and never talk about it, then like my mom, they will always feel like an outcast and always struggle with accepting themselves because they will never truly understand themselves or feel loved simply for who they are.