Autism In Real Life

Episode 6: I Think I Was Sold a Bill of Goods!

September 21, 2021 Ilia Walsh, Executive Director of The Spectrum Strategy Group Season 2 Episode 6
Autism In Real Life
Episode 6: I Think I Was Sold a Bill of Goods!

Hello, and welcome to the autism in real life podcast. In each episode, you'll get practical strategies by taking your journey into the joys and challenges of life with autism. I'm your host, Ilia Walsh, and I'm an educator and the parent of two young adults, one of which is on the autism spectrum. Join me as I share my experience and the experiences of others. So that we may see the unique gifts and talents of individuals on the autism spectrum, fully recognized.

Hello, everyone, and welcome. This is Elio with the spectrum Strategy Group. And in today's episode, I want to talk a little bit about something that I call you know, I've been thinking about the phrase for this, but I, I kind of felt like, Hey, I think I've been sold a bill of goods.

And when I say that I'm talking about in the world of being a parent. And, um, you know, I don't think this is necessarily specific to being a parent of children on the spectrum, I think it's, it's a generic feeling that I have, and also just in talking with other parents. And, you know, I'm reflecting on the conversation I had with Eileen lamb last week, and some of my other podcasts about, you know, the duality dilemma of the mother, mother, particularly, but I don't think it's, it's that I don't think it's mom specific. And then also, another podcast on,

you know, there, there are no instruction manuals. So, you know, this is sort of a kind of a combination, I think of a piece of all of that. But, you know, I think for many of you that are parents, I'm guessing that at some point, you remember, from an early age, maybe being exposed to the whole, you know, sort of, I'm going to use the word like, societal expectation of being a parent, you know, maybe you played house, we had those plastic houses, but when I was a kid, they were wood. So now there's like those plastic houses, you were playing with, you know, with dolls, and everyone had a role, and everybody was doing a different piece. And then, you know, maybe some of you babysat for siblings, or for cousins, or for neighbor, you know, children of your neighbors. And there was this, it felt like there was this great deal of emphasis placed on caring for children, and how important

that role was, and specifically in having your own children.

And if you hear my duality dilemma podcast, it's interesting, because there's that duality in Yes, be a mom, but then also have a career and be independent and do all the things right, and there was that whole Superwoman phase, which I think is still sort of there. But now, you know, this has expanded, it's all parents are now feeling like they need to get pulled in all these directions. And I think, in the current climate with COVID, with a lot of parents, both parents being home roles have shifted a lot. And many people have kind of had to figure out new ways of working and figure out new ways of caring for kids. And so I think, you know, the sentiment here is that there was this great emphasis on caring for children, and maybe some of that is coming back. However, I think there is also this incredible pressure to have kids of your own.

And particularly as when I got married, there was this huge amount of influence of people saying, you know, so when are you going to have kids? And oh, wait, you've been married for a long time. Now. It's time you know, and I find it really interesting that other people were telling me when it was time to have kids.

And, you know, in addition to the fact that my husband I were working more than full time hours in our careers.

We also you know, I had taken care of a younger sibling and I had baby had done a lot of babysitting, it was you know, sort of how I made my money in high school and college. And it was a huge responsibility and I saw the amount of work and I saw the amount of responsibility. I was pretty good at it and I really enjoyed working with the kids and being there and you know, caring for them and playing with them. Obviously set up for you know, being a teacher in the future, but

But I also knew that it was a great responsibility. And at that point in my life, when I first got married, that was not something that I wanted to take on right away. So we did wait a while, before we had kids, and much to other people's dismay.

You know, it was it was a huge amount of stress for, you know, for us and,

you know, feeling like, Well, you know, when it when is everyone telling us what the right time is. And then, so when we decided, you know, it was, it was great, we had a, you know, we had, we had very consciously decided to have kids, you know, both of them. But the interesting thing is, is, as people say, these comments, you know, like, hey, when you're gonna have kids, the clock is ticking, you need to leave a legacy, you know, and sometimes it can be even as cruel as you're being selfish by not having kids. And, and I, you know, I'm fortunate that I didn't get those, those types of comments.

But I think the flip side here is that, you know, no one tells you what it will be like, for your own life, when you have kids, like, what happens to what you were doing before. And I know, for me, as soon as I had kids, my focus was all on them. And, and, of course, to me, that made total sense, you know, you have this new life in your hands and or in your arms. And

it was, you know, an experience and a feeling like I've never had before, you know, looking at your child and seeing yourself in them seeing know your partner in them seeing other family members in them. It's truly a unique feeling.

And the sense of all that there is this entire world out there, and you're right here as a parent, and my job is to help them reach whatever potential reality they have. Right. And so that was sort of my perspective. So everything was focused on doing that. And to some extent, it still is, I will say, but we're gonna get to that in a minute.

But, you know, I saw that my work was to help my kids navigate the world, expose them to as much as I could, through music, literature, art, travel, all sorts of, you know, different types of venues, movies, like all of that, and whatever I could get my hands on and share with them was what you know, was what I was going to do, my mom did the same thing with me. So I was going to pass that along, as well. And, you know, guide them in whatever vision they have for themselves, that that was my goal. And, you know, the interesting thing is, is now as a parent of adults, this is the point where you say, okay, I've done the things I've given you tools, you have learned a whole bunch of tools, not just from me, but from a whole bunch of people around you. And, you know, go Go do your thing, and move into the world as an adult. And I have to say, it's an amazing thing to watch. But in addition to it being amazing, you know, and being exciting, and just being super proud. There is also this sense of fear. And I'd say that for me, it's it's, it's it's two fears, the first one is in knowing that there is big world out there, and that I will not be able to protect them from everything that's out there. And I will not be able to take their suffering away as much as I wish I could, however, from you know, experiencing the world as it is, and through, you know, suffering, we also learn how to keep building our resilience. And I know that my kids will keep building their resilience through their own experiences. But the second fear I have is, you know, that in building this, you know what I'd say, Mom life, I'll put that in quotes.

You know, no one told me that my transition, my kids transition to adulthood, would also leave an additional transition for me.

And I feel like in some ways, no one talks about it. It's like, let's not talk about the hard part when your kids become adults.

Let's just, you know, you'll figure it out, you'll figure it out. And that's kind of how I feel.

And the thing is, is, as I've mentioned, I've walked you through, you know, really high level, like what my experiences as a parent is like, but now that they're doing their own thing, my kids, it's like, Okay, wait, now my role has shifted. So, you know, what is what is my journey look like now, okay, I'm serving as a coach and

A confidant and a facilitator and a friend to my kids.

And still mom, of course. But now this has given me time to reflect on Oh, wait, what happened to all of those passions? And all of those things that I had before?

Where did they go? What happened to that? And so I'm at a place where I can relook at that. And this is where I say, feel like I was sold a bill of goods is, like I said, like I said, No one talks about that part. And so, you know, I just want to share my experience with that, and what my journey has been through that. And, you know, through through all of this time, I have done very meaningful, meaningful work. And I have connected with some amazing people, I have had a couple of career changes. And so, you know, I've had a lot of experiences, and I've learned a lot.

But most of my learning and development has come from being a mom, for me, my kids, you know, we'll help you see what your boundaries are, we'll help push those boundaries. You learn and grow with them, at least for me, I see that as the case. And, you know, they will test your limits and call into question a lot of things that maybe you didn't even know needed to be questioned, but they they might, they might be. And also, the amount of personal development is something that for me, I don't think I could have gotten anyone out anywhere else. And I've done a ton of personal development with lots of other things, therapy and yoga, and trainings, and leadership development, and all that kind of fun stuff out there. But it's different

with, you know, the tiny human beings that you care for, and see them grow into adults. So that's a different experience.

But it is, it is a hard one. And what I say is, it's not for the faint of heart. And,

and because it is hard, and it's a forever journey. So it's a forever journey of joy and pain and triumph and excitement.

And, you know,

our and exhaustion and love that, you know, life presents in general. So it is it is part of that experience for me. And I think really clearly about a quote I heard from the show being surina, which is a documentary on Serena Williams. And it struck me really hard when she said this, she said, as a mom, this is a new type of strength I am not used to.

And as an athlete, and someone who has gone through considerable amount of

development, both physically, spiritually and mentally for her work. To hear her say something like that about becoming a mom. Definitely resonated with me. And so I think that's a feeling and the way she stated that is it's a feeling that will stay with me forever. But I would say so worth the ride. So with that, thank you so much for listening in today and I will talk to you all soon. Take care.

Thanks for listening to autism in real life. This is Ilia Walsh. And if you like the show, please hit subscribe so you can get notified each time a new episode is released. I also offer training, consultations and parent coaching and would love to help you in any way that I can. You can check out my offerings at the spectrum strategy calm and when you join my email list. You can get a code to receive a discount off of an online class or a coaching session. Looking forward to hearing from you. Take care and see you next time.

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