The Balancing Act

Close-up of Biggest smiling

There are so many things hanging in the balance.

I must push my son to achieve his potential, to leave his comfort zone, to be the best he can be – but I must also never force him to change, never make him do anything against his will. Always, his choice must be paramount. I must decide how far is too far, how much is just enough. Where is the line between living a full and content life and burnout, meltdown and misery?

I must encourage him to forge relationships, to communicate, to make friends – but I must respect introversion, his solitude.

When writing about autism, I must strive to tell the truth, about my experience, about our daily lives – but I must not reveal too much. I must protect my son’s privacy and dignity at all times. With every post I decide how I would feel if those words were written about me. With every post, I talk to my children about what I have written. I must not sugar-coat. I must not add to negative perceptions of autism.

I must make allowances for my son when there are things that are beyond his control  – but I must make sure that my daughter never loses out or feels treated as less because her brother is different. I must make allowances, but I must never let him use his challenges as an excuse.

I must feed and clothe my family. It was my choice, my responsibility to leave a secure career. Now I must balance which brands are wrong, how many ads are too many, which partnerships are not right – but I must put food on the table.

I want to show my children the world – but I want to keep them wrapped up and safe forever.

I want to give them everything – but I do not want them to be spoilt.

I want them to need me forever – but I want them to be confident and independent enough to let me go.

I am trying my best. Sometimes the scales waver and tip. I struggle to set them right. There are those who would set a different tipping point to the one I strive to find. There are those who will always think I have gone too far – or not far enough. But I cannot keep everyone happy. That is a scale that is impossible to balance.

At Christmas, I wrote about how things had been a little tough. And even though my darling boy wanted to do Christmas activities, asked me to go to carol services, begged me for crackers, there are still those who told me that I was a bad mother. They thought I pushed too far. They told me that I forced him to do things he did not like because I wanted to make him fit in a box in my mind. Oh how I wish each decision of this kind was so simple. He wanted to go – and he didn’t. He was amazed by everything he saw – and he was worn down by it. He was desperate to pull a cracker – and it frustrated him so much. He wanted to do so many things – and so many things were so hard for him.

At every step, every stage, I tried to balance his needs. But there will always be mistakes.

I have been reluctant to write since. It felt futile, trying to capture that on the page, trying to show what we must do while protecting him and reaching out to others – an impossible task. Whenever I tried to write, I felt tired. I felt tired of trying to strike that balance.

I spend my whole life desperately spinning plates to keep my children healthy, happy and well provided. This is not a complaint. I am not a martyr. There is nothing that I would rather be doing. It is what every parent does.

But forgive me if, sometimes, things slip, and fall.

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4 thoughts on “The Balancing Act

  1. I have raised two adult daughters and am now co-parenting my autistic grandson. Parenting is the most difficult job, not just because we want to do what’s best, but because we get so much advice. I believe most people genuinely want to help, but no one knows our family, our children the way we do. No parent, no human is perfect. All we can do is our best. Try to make the best decisions, with love, based on each child’s needs.💌

  2. I think just encouragement is enough and doing it yourself exaggerating how cool it is helps too. Im happy to say my daughter has passed down saying ‘You need to try at least once’ attitude before saying you dont like it.

  3. Thank you for your posts. They’re teaching me a lot. I feel like I’m a better colleague, friend and mum for having read your stories. We’re all imperfect, life is one heck of a game of actions and consequences.
    We can’t be expected to get everything right. However from where I’m sat, you’re not doing your son any injustice. It is obvious that you adore both your children and that autism brings beauty into your life as well as difficulties. Please keep writing when you can – I really appreciate it

  4. You are doing the best you can, and your children love you. I have a 16 year old on the spectrum. I worry about his furture as adulthood is a mere 2 yearrs away. Its scary as a mother. You beautifully captuered the struggle I face everyday. Best wishes, to you and yours. Please keep your head up.

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