Choose your tribe wisely
A quick scroll through Instagram and you’ll easily find quote upon quote about the power of female support. ‘Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have her back’. Is just one example. It’s a favourite and could not be truer of exactly what I am doing right now, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without the support and encouragement from my mates, Spikey Mama would not have happened, fact. They gave me the confidence, the skill and the determination I needed to just do it.
I do however still hold with what I expressed on the intro page though, as a sex, women, generally speaking, do not support women nearly enough. We are often guilty of the following; judgement, jealously and rumour spreading gossip, and I don’t mean the fun kind over a bottle with your best buds.
So why do we do this? Is judgement intrinsic within us? Because even though I know there’s an incredible bunch of women who have my back, I’ll be honest my greatest concern is the reaction I’ll get to Spikey Mama is from well, other women. I'm a strong woman, a feminist, a humanist. I believe in myself and those I love, but at 42, I still worry about being judged.
In spite of this insecurity, I do still retain the ability to pick good eggs.
The chat and support I need has evolved with my kids growing up. From avid discussions of different types of baby poo and stitches in my vagina, how soon is too soon for sex post birth? My breast milk hitting the TV in my friends house from her sofa, (yes it actually did that!) That has now changed to the school examination stress pit, is 5 hours of screen time too much per day? and help, I'm just struggling a bit with this whole autism thing.
One of Matilda’s isms is extreme separation anxiety. An example. You are dropping your child off at her most beloved friends house, the girl in question is one that Matilda adores, her first go to sleep over, the first person she wants over and its no wonder, I feel exactly the same about her mother.
We get to the weekend, all is well. You start driving over to the friends house, but you can sense a bit of edge. The problem with sensing edge is that it makes you jittery, if you get jittery, she gets even more jittery by the time we get to our destination the car is like a giant jitter ball!
I think its safe to say she lost it when I went to leave her. A small struggle ensued and my saint of mate ended up laughing her head off, having fallen arse first into a hedge!
Why did I leave her? Why didn’t I just throw in the towel? Well I have two boys who are neuro-typical who were waiting to go on a day out, that Matilda had quite fervently said she had absolutely zero interest in being a part of. So I am left with a situation where if I had taken her home, they would miss out and the gap between them and their sister widens, the resentment grows and besides I knew that minutes after leaving Matilda would be completely fine.
I have a whole stack of stories like that. A mate who carried a Rainbow Dash the size of shetland pony from the UK to Italy, a friend who drove 15 miles, just to take her to school, countless who ignore her social shortcomings without so much of a second glance.
What amazes me the most about my closest friends, is their natural ability to know what to do. She has grown up with them with them which helps, but they all have this extraordinary sense of how to help at that moment.
It's not uncommon to know parents of kids with additional needs these days. Autism and all it's different types, is certainly talked about more, we are better at understanding it, but not nearly enough. If we talk about these differences, if we get it out there, the differences become less like differences and more acceptable as ‘the norm’.
Matilda doesn't want to be tolerated, she wants to be accepted. One of the reasons for starting this blog is for just that. It’s not about ‘exposing her’. But she has a life long condition, we can’t hide it away. If we talk about it, if we educate our children, then life is better for everyone. Lets make our children better at this than we were. These kids make your kids better people.
Maybe your children have kids in their class like Matilda. Talk to their parents, not about them. On our journey, we have found that the more open we are in communicating about Matilda's issues the more receptive other parents are. More than that, they welcome and love her. It comes from us, but if we don’t speak up, if there is a void of information about a 'different' child, that void will fill quickly with judgement.
I would urge parents of these kids to talk to the other parents, fill the void with facts and understanding and you will be rewarded with support that we all need. No one is after sympathy, just support and understanding.
I am hopeful. I am always hopeful and have a mission, that Matilda and her equally spikey counterparts will be able to be themselves, or at least themselves given the social parameters they are in, and accepted. So by the time they are adults their anxiety is understood and their needs respected.
So, to all the hedge fallers, colossal toy importing, scratchy sofa owning, giant flamingo purchasing, social etiquette ignoring, non judgemental supporting rockstar mates out there. You are the reason we can deal with a bad day, you are the reason your kids will grow up into open minded, kind adults, you are the backbone when when ours feels broken.
Thank you, from Matilda and me.