I was going to do a cutesy post about being moms, but I started thinking about being a mom and how it has changed me. Oh boy - has it ever changed me!
Mrs. Priss' boys - 2007
Today, I'm going to tell you about the first time I really became an empowered mother.
As many of you may know, my son Michael was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of three. I was educating myself as fast as I could but the world was taking the reins. I relied on therapists, books and teachers to guide me as I learned what Michael's needs were. I was so worried that I would miss something and it would ruin Michael's life forever. I trusted these people to lead me through it. I lacked confidence and was never one to speak up. This may shock those of you who know me.
The year that Michael was in the four-year-old preschool program at the school, things didn't go so well. I began to not trust the teacher. All she shared were negative things. She didn't appear to make much effort, either. My sweet Michael was struggling to make it through a half-day in her class and came home keyed up. I was disappointed in her but also carrying the guilt of knowing that my son was more difficult to manage than most.
The Doc and I decided maybe it was time to try private school. With high hopes, we met with the principal and explained our situation. He said they would be glad to have him. It was the middle of the school year, but we felt he could enter the class and things would be better in this private, Christian setting.
It was anything but that.
As the semester dragged on, I began to cry every time the phone rang because the school called about something bad - every single day. My child was constantly suspended for many things ranging from "refusal to color" to "biting." Yeah, biting. That biting thing was a one time deal and a turning point for us. Michael was being bullied by his classmates and over-disciplined by his teachers and no one would do a thing about it. I kept trying to figure out how my mild-mannered child had become such a mess. I trusted that the teacher had his best interests in mind and was appropriately dealing with his behavior. I was even punishing him at home for his reported behavior by taking away his favorite toys.
We got the call one day from the principal that Michael was going to be suspended for biting another child on the playground the day before. The incident took place on the playground and the child hadn't reported it to his teacher, but his mom called when she saw the bite marks that night. This boy had a bite mark on his stomach and said my son had done it. All the moms out there know that a stomach is a weird place to bite. I knew instantly there was a lot more to the story than the school was telling.
No one had even bothered to find out from Michael what happened.
When got Michael home, the Doc and I quizzed him. One of the problems was that Michael never told on the other kids when they were doing stuff to him. His communication wasn't very good then, but he looked at his dad with tears in his eyes and said, "I didn't let them tear my clothes off."
Those boys were bullying him and one had pinned him down to the ground. That bite was his attempt to get the other kid off of him. My child had to use self-defense and no one came to his aid.
When we finally got the whole story from Michael, the tides had turned. I was no longer crying out of despair, I was crying from anger.
Yes, I cry a lot.
I realized that day that if I didn't look out for my child and defend him every time, no one else would. I didn't have the luxury of trusting other experts to drive this car. It was my job (and Doc's) alone. I no longer take a teacher's assessment at face value. I question it thoroughly to make sure that everything makes sense. I question Michael thoroughly to see what was going on in his head. Then I think it through and use my mothering instinct. I trust that instinct now.
It took about three months after school was over before I got my sweet boy back. He was a mess of anxiety! And his public school Kindergarten teacher helped me know I could trust again. There are some wonderful teachers out there.
Nowadays, when something is wrong, I don't hesitate to intervene. You'd better be able to back up your case if something is going wrong in your classroom. Michael does not get away with much, but he knows his mother will defend him. The world does not understand Asperger's and I'm hear to advocate for Michael. I've done a some advocating for my little Jacob as well. Every kid needs an advocate, you know.
That's the day I had had enough.
It's the day they woke the Mama Bear in me.
And I still cry a lot.
But that goes with the territory, right?
Do you remember a significant moment that defines you as a parent?
who wishes you a Happy Mother's Day --
and reminds you to be thankful for your own mothers!