Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Pep Talk

So here I am again. After three weeks of heaven on earth, somebody ordered to kick me out for who knows how long… “Let her feel fear again”. I can’t say I’ve dropped as low as I was before the climb, but I’m definitely not at the top of the mountain any more.

And this “Game of Lights” Joaquin adores so much (and I don’t) is still here. He’s been obssessed about traffic lights forever since I know him, and he’s brought that motivation into his play for at least the full past year. Recognizing that I don’t flow naturally to this activity with the same ease and excitement I do towards numbers, letters, math, music, art and crafts, I have done all I’ve been able to do to embrace this game, to find excitement, to add variation to it, to expand it, to find a role I can enjoy, to wash my brain and play mental games and experiment in order to participate in this thing with him. And we’ve done well… Bravo Maria!… And when I was in heaven, what we did together didn’t matter at all. It was all perfect. I could enjoy anything in front of me. But now that I’m not, I’m back here and I still don’t like this game. And the Son-Rise A student in me is informing me that I better find a way to love it, so I can join Joaquin in it.

But I can’t.

So every time Joaquin’s little smily face tells me “left is East!” or “red light means we gotta stop!”… always expecting an answer, I want to scream. I don’t want to play. I don’t want him to keep inviting me. But I don’t have the balls to be honest. I keep trying, failing, feeling guilty and desperate, and oh so freaking irritated, I become aloof… I give him a bored verbal response tinted with the energy of “whatever!”. And he feels it. But he’s four and not fully developed in socialization, and nobody has taught him yet that my behavior and energy mean I’m not interested and the “accepted social response” is to walk away and stop inviting me.

So after screaming ENOOOOOOOUGGGHHHH!!! to cyberspace, and reading the responses from many dear friends trying to help me, I’m still in the same place. Focusing on gratitude for all my blessings does not lift me; not right now. Right now I’m running from the bear. So I’m going to do exactly what I told last week to a friend I saw running from her bear. I’m going to stop running. I’m going to turn around and let the bear eat me.

I’m going to tell Joaquin the truth. Next time he looks at me confused by my lack of excitement when he shares with me his joy for this game, I’m not going to call myself an ungrateful (because he breathes, and he talks, and he shares his excitement, and he wants me involved), I’m not going to force myself to like this (I’ve tried for a year, and right now I’m still here)… I’m going to tell him “This thing you see right now in me… It is a lot of emotion… It is:

1) Me not liking this game. I’m not excited by it like you are. I can’t. I don’t see what you do. I don’t perceive it the way you do. I adore you, but I’m not you, and I’m not always interested by the same things you are, and although I’ve tried hard, I’m still not naturally excited by this motivation you have for the experience of driving and seeing traffic lights change, and taking turns to the right and the left, and going east and south, and getting places.

2) Me forcing myself to like this game. Just because I love you and I want to be with you. But today I can’t. And something in me keeps telling me that I *should* keep trying, and today I’m tired. So there’s this feeling of guilt and resistance.

3) Me being irritated every time you invite me to participate. Because I can’t. Because as much as I’ve tried, something in me, today, is quitting. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to participate. I don’t want to respond. I want you to play this alone because you love it so much. And I don’t want to have anything to do with it. Today.

And I’m going to trust that my son, who is incredibly smart and responds amazingly well when my words match my feelings, will understand this. And I’m going to assume that my perceived failure may actually be the opportunity to teach him what he may face down the road when he opens up to the world, and is met with lack of interest, eyes rolling, “okay” answers, and all sort of non-verbal signals communicating “I don’t give a shit”.

So perhaps they kicked me out of heaven so I could get back in touch with this feelings, get some courage, take the risk a loud chunk in me is very afraid to take, and be honest, and explain to him what he’s perceiving in my energy. I’m going to trust that he’ll know that this situation has nothing to do with my love for him. Because how else could he learn about people’s responses?… It’s gotta be me, being authentic. And something tells me that there is value in doing this. Because why else is this happening? Why else is the whole universe putting us in this position? Why else am I here despite one year of efforts to not be here?

Welcome to my parent mentoring service

Hello, you Super mom of an Awesome autistic child.

If my experience and words speak to you, I invite you to learn about my mentoring service for autism parents.

Intentional parenting, development, and education for our children is my passion. My purpose is to empower you with the emotional and practical support you need to thrive as you reach for every outcome you dream of for you and your child’s life.

Learn More