ORIGINALLY POSTED: APRIL 10,2013
April 10th: Autism has taught me the importance of accepting yourself as you are.
There are times when I look at my daughter and how she’s dressed herself for the day and I wish I could be in her head during that particular thought process. I would just love to know exactly what she was thinking when she put that outfit on, and yet, I send her off to school just as she is most days, so long as she’s not in violation of the dress code. Her obsession with leggings and tutu-like skirts may make some people look at her funny, particularly when her color pallet is a bit off, but she’s being who she wants to be, not who I want her to be.
In letting Sissy be herself and define her own style, I have learned that it’s okay to wear what I want so long as I am true to myself and be comfortable. There are days when Sissy isn’t quite comfortable in the outfit she has chosen. Days when, at the age of seven, she worries about what others will think of her outfit. Those are special days in our house because mommy grabs a few things that are crazy and we have a “Crazy Outfit Day”. This means I might wear a bow tie or a dress with a t-shirt and brightly colored leggings. My outfits are always “Sissy Approved” and we make each other confident in what we are wearing.
I’ve always been honest with my daughter regarding her Autism diagnosis. I don’t feel like hiding it is the right way to go. I didn’t know why I was different growing up and it caused me great pains. Years spent hating myself could have been spent getting help and learning how to better adapt to the world. I don’t want these years to be wasted for my daughter. I want her to understand herself, to understand her strengths and challenges and for her to learn how to maneuver through life without the great struggles and heartaches that I have had to go through.
I don’t want her naivety to hurt her the way mine did me. I don’t want her to hate herself because people don’t understand her and she doesn’t understand herself. I want to be the best mom I can be for her. If that means she wears lime green leggings with a blue and purple plaid skirt and pink shirt, then I will let her wear it. She needs to be comfortable with who she is and I want her to define who she is, not someone else.
I want my daughter to have the confidence and self-esteem that I didn’t have growing up. I want to teach her that she is always beautiful so long as she is happy with herself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of her outfit, her frightful hair, her stimming or anything else. She is a unique individual worth celebrating and so am I. In teaching my daughter to love herself as she is, I am learning to love myself as I am. I never thought being a parent could teach you so much about yourself.