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

My Purpose as a Parent

For a while, I’ve been in a constant state of creeping low-key worry, guilt, and overall mild unhappiness. I knew somehow it was related to self judgment on the parenting arena. So when I felt the dark wave descend upon me today while emptying the washing machine, I immediately dropped the clothes, closed my eyes and asked myself: “What is the thought that is currently tormenting me?”

In stillness, I heard the question:

Is Joaquin moving towards a future life of independence from parents?

This involves school, college, education towards a future income-producing job. The vague feeling that Joaquin is not moving towards this because he’s at home –and not in school– pops every day, several times a day. It is my constant test for happiness. And because I’m not currently seeing evidence of an arising interest in him, because I’ve chosen not to force school on Joaquin until he feels ready and eager for it, because I feel like the whole thing is out of my control (bullshit!) and not much movement is happening towards is, it keeps me in this constant state of creeping yuckiness.

So I looked at it again and marveled at the fact that my mind has been nagging, focusing, and judging me on a very narrow aspect of parenting. “Thats’s it? –I asked myself. “School and a job are my big goals as a mother?… Really?! That’s all that matters?… All that determines whether I’m doing a good job or not?” . And the answer was obvious: “Of course, not! There’s a lot more I want to give my son”. So I decided to take a few minutes to clarify what that is… What I want to offer to Joaquin as his mother.

I saw that I have three main goals as a parent:

  1. Raise a person who can provide for himself as an adult
    Whether this outcome will happen or not. I want to do all I can towards it.
  2. Guide, show, and help my son acquire tools he can use to pursue his own happiness.
    This is a BIG one (given all I’ve learned on the subject in the last years) and it expands my reach well beyond financial independence or ambition. I do it in the traditional way by giving him opportunities to learn skills, develop himself, and access knowledge, but also by living my beliefs on happiness myself: SEEKING MY OWN HAPPINESS despite the conditions, sharing my concept of a happy and fulfilling life, pursuing my interests and personal fulfillment passionately, using the tools at my disposal, seeking to acquire new tools and knowledge, modeling the perspective that happiness is a choice.
  3. Raise a “good” inhabitant of this planet
    I do this by teaching and modeling the values I believe in

So five minutes of stillness have helped me see that there’s much I’m doing (or can do) in a more expanded arena of everything I truly want to help Joaquin grow into. Today I’m finally done with the nagging thought, and choosing peace and happiness instead. Ahhhhhh!

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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.

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