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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Milestones Never Met

My mom texted my brother and I in a group text today, telling us that one of our cousins is pregnant. And a little part of me died again.
Not that there's anything wrong with my cousin. I'm sure she'll be a great mother. She's always loved babies. I don't really know her that well these days, though. She's 9 years younger than me, and although I babysat her a few times when she was little, our parents weren't close, so we never had as tight of a relationship as I do with some of my other cousins. But I'm still happy for her... because, you know, babies.
But there is that little part of me dying too. And I will try to explain it to you, but it will be hard for me to not sound like a selfish bee-yatch. Yet I always do try.
On my mom's side of the family, I am the oldest cousin. There was me, then two years after that came Bro. Then 7 years after that came my cousin who is pregnant now, followed closely by her brother. For a long time there was only us four cousins, with a huge gap in the middle of us. I was in my twenties by the time my four youngest cousins, Ponygirl, Sox Boy, the Professor, and Shirley Temple, were born.
For the purpose of this blog post, I'm mostly talking about me, my brother, and my two somewhat younger cousins, the ones I grew up with, not the four very little ones. Growing up, I was the oldest cousin. But the others, my brother and the two cousins, always passed me up and outshone me. It was one thing to constantly be in my younger brother's shadow. But when your younger cousins who you babysat begin to pass you up, it is hard.
I was, as a teenager and in my twenties, the blacksheep cousin. I was not yet diagnosed with autism. I was simply the troubled, mentally ill cousin who ran away from home and lived on the streets. My brother and cousins, meanwhile, were popular in school, got great grades, and excelled at sports and at everything they tried.
My one cousin, who is pregnant now, went away to college the same year that I tried to. I, of course, was a grown adult who had already been working part time for years while putting myself through community college. My cousin successfully transitioned to college, lived in a sorority, and did all the things college kids are "supposed" to do. I, on the other hand, had a terrible meltdown on my second day there, went through severe depression, and had to postpone my college career while I moved back in with my parents and cried on the basement couch for several months. During that hopeful week when my parents had driven me to college, where I was going to live in adult housing because I felt way too old to live in a dorm, my mom proudly told me, "You're going to be the first person on my side of the family to get a Bachelor degree."
But I wasn't. After having to leave that college in a state of disappointed disgrace, I did get back into college, but it was a rocky situation. At one college I attended in the teacher prep program, the professor, when finding out that I had autism and ADHD (because by that point i was diagnosed) told me I should rethink being a teacher, because teachers had to be very organized and independent. I had to start over from scratch at another college. I took a few years time out to help raise my best friend's children. By the time I managed to graduate with my Bachelor's degree, both of my younger cousins had already gotten theirs, and were on their way to Master's degrees.
And then there is the whole baby thing.
I've always wanted to be a mama. I've blogged about that before. Somehow I also always assumed I'd foster or adopt children, rather than giving birth. When I was 18, I wrote to social service agencies asking what the minimum age was to adopt children. (It was 21.) I imagined that, by the time I was 21, I'd have my own house and be a foster parent.
Decades went by.
Okay not decades. But years. In those years, my brother had Squeak. My whole extended family lost their shit with excitement. My grandmother said, "It's about time I had a great grandchild! All of my friends have great grandchildren already." They all talked about how proud they were of Bro, what an amazing father he was, etc.
They still do. And I'm proud of Bro too... and I love little Squeak... but the ghosts of the children I dreamed of having stand silently next to me, possibly never to become real.
Sometimes I don't even know if I still want kids. I mean, I always did. I've helped raise other people's kids. I've done all of the day to day things like staying up all night with a screaming baby or a puking preschooler, changing diarrhea diapers that leak all the way up their back and soak through their onesies, giving baths, putting to bed, making meals, going grocery shopping with wild banshees jumping in and out of the cart, dealing with funny looks from judgmental playgroup mommies... I did all that! And I loved it! All I wanted was to someday get to do it for my own children, who wouldn't be whisked away every time their real parents got a little bit sober and started to miss them.
I still do want all that. The only hard thing is that I have lived on my own for a long time now... with my animals. I have weird worries, like what if my children pull Lily's fur, or what if GOD FORBID, THEY ARE ALLERGIC TO ANIMALS???????!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!
Plus there is the fact that I know I'm emotionally young for my age. I still have meltdowns when I don't get enough sleep or when people refuse to tell me whats for dinner. I still need a lot of support from my mom. Ironically, I think I functioned at my best, at my most maturest, when I was raising children who needed me to be the adult. But what if I can't do it forever? Or what if I try to adopt children and I can't get approved because I'm just too autistic?
Basically, all this came into my brain when my mom told me that my cousin is pregnant. Its just another milestone that everyone else is meeting, that I may never get to. Next thing I know, Ponygirl will be be pregnant, and I'll still be the weird, spinster aunt whose dog calls her Mama.
(By the way, I will NEVER NEVER NEVER be a parent who stops thinking of my animals as my babies once they have human children. Never. Lily and Yoshi are my babies forever. But I'd still like some human babies too...)
Does that make any sense at all?


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