“I did not sign up for this!”

Every Autism Mom has had some version of the thought, “I did not sign up for this!”

This is what I told my client, Nicole, as she cried.  

“I did not sign up for this” is the verbalization of the denial and anger we sometimes feel about the difference between the parenting experience we expected and the one we are having.

This was certainly the case for Nicole, whose 8 year daughter with Level 3 Autism was having a difficult transition to the First Grade:

✔️Refusing to get on the bus

✔️Phone calls and emails from school about task refusal, throwing her AAC device and vocal outbursts

✔️Epic meltdowns when she returned home

As a result, Nicole, spends half of her week fielding call San dn emails from school, driving Gabby back adn forth to therapy appointments, and walking on eggshells awaiting the next meltdown or call from school.

As much as she loved her daughter and was committed to finding ways to support her in the transtion, the sentence that kept running though her head was “I did not sign up for this.”

Nicole is not alone.

We all experience this.

The difference between what we expected and what we have.

This difference is a loss.

Loss sucks.

Most of us would rather do anything but feel it, so we clap back with denial and anger – I did not sign up for this!

In my experience, this is not only unhelpful; it is dangerous.  

That is because denial and anger keep us stuck in our pain and festers resentment

Resentment of our children

Resentment of Autism

Resentment of people who don’t get it or have it so easy.

All of this resentment creates more pain and more loss for us.

Even more, it robs us of the the parenting experience we actually get to have.

This is because we can’t find or create joy in the experience we get to have if we are stuck in the experience we expected to have.

That is why allowing yourself to recognize and feel the loss is so important.  

It is the difference between being sad, angry or resentful and staying that way.

It is the difference between staying stuck in what should’ve been and living in the here and now.

It is the difference between resenting your parenting experience and enjoying it.

You get to enjoy your parenting experience, even if it is not the one you signed up for.

You always get to decide.