To Mum: surprise!

You know that awkward moment when you’re struggling to write a surprise blog post, but the person you usually ask for advice is the central character of said post? Yeah. It’s hard, isn’t it? So without further ado, let me introduce…you guessed it, my mother!

For starters, my mum has many names to choose from, the most common ones being Helen, Hez, Hezza, and, according to her Sainsbury’s reward cards, Melen* (my personal favourite). She spent her teen years at ballet school, then worked for several more years in Taiwan, where she met my father. Now back in England and married to my stepdad, she teaches Pilates and is training to be a counsellor. Long story short.

One of Mum’s many achievements in life is to produce two children who look nothing like her. Given this fact, and my father’s shenanigans with other women, I have asked her if she’s sure I’m not some other woman’s child. For some reason, she keeps insisting I’m hers, and refuses to believe otherwise. Almost as if my logic is flawed…

She also never tires of talking about what a huge baby I was, often completely at random. Having recently had my 24th birthday, this subject has been particularly high on the agenda. But given that I’d forget if it was mentioned on anything less than a daily basis, this is probably character building for me.

To this day, Mum still has a collection of letters I posted under her door as a small child. Such as “Dear Mummy, are you sorry that I hurt my knee?” And “Dear Mummy, I am sorry that the book got broken. Maybe we can fix it somehow.” And this classic from Year 1 at school: “My mummy is nice and kind and pretty and firm when me and my sister are bad. Sometimes my sister is bad, but I am good most of the time.” I always was destined to be a writer…

Apparently one of the perks of being a mother is the thrill of embarrassing your children. Personally I don’t buy the excuse that it’s revenge for every time your kids publicly embarrass you. But then her favourite weapon is stories of all those times. She also likes trying to be cool with words like “lol”, “lmao”, “grooveh” and “in with da kids”. Which she does to drive my sister crazy “just for the lolz.”

But for all her eccentricities, my mum fits all the important mum criteria. Throughout divorce, living on benefits, school struggles, Grannie dying, and the trials and tribulations of growing up, she has been there. Loved me and my sister. Fed us properly. Given us a good life. And never let us down. Well, unless you count the time she wasn’t sorry I hurt my knee.

Melen Mum, I will just say this for you. I love you. Oh, and happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

*Whoever created those cards must have looked at her signature, wondered to themselves whether the first letter was an H or an M, and decided that “Melen” was the most likely option.

Advertisements

Little things I have needed to learn as an Aspie

That no matter how much I genuinely like a present someone has given me, if I don’t look at them, smile, and act enthusiastic, they will think I hate it. My mum had to teach me this as a kid.

That if someone (usually one of my parents) is trying to get me to say goodbye to someone not directly in my line of sight, simply shouting “bye” will not cut it.

When someone is talking at length to me, listening means more than just taking in what they are saying. It means looking at them on and off, sounding interested, encouraging them to say more, and saying a few things yourself where appropriate. Comes naturally enough now, but completely bypassed me at primary school.

To remember to make eye contact, to some extent (more on that here).

To be able to say, when I am feeling confused or overwhelmed, “I’m autistic, I find hard, could you just explain…” etc.

That actually you have to stand up for yourself, say no, and set firm boundaries, even if it means someone else can’t completely have their own way. At school, I hated the thought of upsetting people by saying no, when they so desperately needed my stationery, or even treats from my lunch.

That there are some people who are fine with this, as long as it works both ways.

That the worst case scenario in a new social situation is that I’ll find it kind of boring and be happy to get back to the privacy of my room.

That the best friendships aren’t forced.

The difference between when friends need advice, reassurance, or a listening ear. Advice: they don’t know how to deal with a situation and are asking your opinion. Reassurance: they’re saying “I feel so stupid, guilty, embarrassed, etc.” or “I’m not weird/stupid/in the wrong, am I?”. Listening ear: they’re not asking anything of you; they simply want to talk something through or explain something to you.

That feeling sad about someone else’s struggles is a double edged sword – you can either be overburdened by feelings of helplessness, or keep the focus on them and pay attention to what they need.

How to recognise when my batteries seriously need recharging. As a child playing at someone’s house, I’d frequently go and spend time with any grown-ups available. Though I didn’t realise this, I was feeling mentally exhausted and was giving my brain a rest. Now, if I’m socialising and enjoying it, sometimes I don’t realise how much I need alone time until I get it.

 

 

My thoughts on the human condition

When people talk about the human condition, it sounds like some big, deep theory that summarises the whole of humanity from an objective viewpoint. People are always trying to make sense of other people, whether it’s from a philosophical, psychological or religious perspective. Yet without being God, or any other higher being that can see us inside out, it’s impossible to get the bigger picture. And anyway, do we really want to know what humanity must look like from the outside…

But the human condition isn’t just about how people were made, and how we turned out. It’s also in the little things. Like so:

Does anyone else find it annoying when mature adults assume you’re younger than you are, then expect you to take that as a compliment? If you’re like me, you want to look to be an age at which people take you seriously. Yet older people want to look younger for the same reason. So basically, we go through each stage of life either missing, or looking forward to, the years when we get taken seriously. While not taking people outside our age range seriously. Yeah.

And the “us against the world” mindset. Life sucks, doesn’t it? Especially when you have to deal with Asperger’s Syndrome, the odd racist catcall, and an anticipated future of being single and unemployed. Honestly, other people have it so easy…

See what I mean? We can only clearly see what’s wrong with our own lives. Anything that doesn’t affect us has to be right under our noses and relevant to our interests. It gets interesting when this mindset is what unites a particular social group. Then what happens? A fight for a noble cause, or a feud over politics, religion, or race?

On a similar note, when we don’t know everything, we fill in the gaps. Sounds like a bad thing, and sometimes it is, but it’s how we make sense of the world around us. We get glimpses of what’s happening in someone’s life, and what we don’t know, we speculate. Problems only start when we are so sure that our understanding is right, that we lose touch with reality.

Then there’s that old “meaning of life” mystery. Whose life? Yours or everyone’s? I’ve come to realise that you don’t “find” your purpose; you choose it, pursue it, and if it stops working, pick another. For life in general, my theory is: keep the world living and moving by playing your part and striving to make a difference. Best I could come up with, anyway.