The journal of a Romanian mother (By Catalina C)
I always knew that I would have a boy and that his name would be Mathew. I dreamed of him years before his birth: it was him, the boy he is now, with his big green eyes, with delicate features. With a mature seriousness he told me in my dream "I saved your life", and ever since then his words remained in my mind.
Mathew with his mother Catalina
I wanted to have a child like the one in my dream and I imagined that he would nice, smart, the center of attention, talented. His intrauterine existence was a continuous wonder for me and the moment I perceived him as a distinct human being I knew that my love for my child was born. This new feeling materialized in my health care, attention to everything I ate, to the drugs I used, to the experiences I chose to go through during my pregnancy.
I remember how he smelled soon after he was born, a fragrance I hadn't found anywhere, only maybe in the holy fragrance of ointment. The fact that he depended on me one hundred percent and that he had as much confidence in what I was giving him was truly shocking. I prayed to God with a silence that was unknown to me, that I learned from my child's face and I thanked Him for everything I had received. We started knowing and loving each other. He was doing this by accumulating life experience and I was learning how to be a parent. All the development standards were met, the pediatric books confirmed that he was within the parameters of growth, the specialists said that he had age appropriate reflexes.
Suddenly something happened. He was around two years old. A strange, unknown power started taking him away from me, from reality, from himself. I started looking up in books, I got informed, I went to specialists who told me: "everything I alright", "there are no reasons to worry about", "you are too worried as a mother", "it is just a delay in his development", but "everything is alright, stay calm."
Months have passed and the differences between him and other children were more visible. I prayed fiercely and although I had heard the words "it will be alright", "be patient", I felt my soul grow desperate. He turned three years old. He was accepted with reluctance at the kindergarten, from where I received a lot of reproaches and lack of goodwill: "he is too quiet", "he doesn't collaborate", "we did everything we could, but he won't do what we tell him to do."
One day brought him home full of bruises because the other children beat him and he didn't know how to defend himself. After a year, I transferred him to another kindergarten, where they received him "on trial", only to be rejected after a few months, just like an expired product. Preschool education seemed to had exhausted its resources and specific methods with a child who was "too quiet", but who "won't sit down on his chair."
I prayed to God with clenched teeth, grinding the outrage. I returned to the hospitals, the specialists and the pharmacies. This time, the encouraging words were gone; I saw hesitations. My patience in listening to medical explanations had diminished and I was only left with anxiety. I prayed with fists tight with pain and anger to a god who was strange to me. Somebody said: "pervasive disorder with autism elements!" Autism! Lord, who has planted this evil in my child? I am the guilty one, aren't I? I am guilty! People blame me, I blame me!
I entered in a hell-like twirl in which my parents blame me, my friends smile with complacency to me, the doctors prescribe treatments after a 5 minute evaluation, I went through a divorce after 5 years of marriage... I am alone... I scream to a deaf god! Where are you? I prayed to you! What is with this punishment? What did you do? You! YOU! WHY? I'm in hell. People watch us in the bus, some laugh, pointing fingers: "He is ill", "Poor him, he is retarded", "who knows what his parents have done if he ended up like this"... "You handicapped child! Ha! Ha!" Lord, where is my Firefly, my soft Boy? ... I don't understand, I am stupefied, I am under anesthesia. The days go by... Maybe everything will be ok, my boy will be healthy, if... I do all I can possibly do. It's clear, right? The solution is in me: I HAVE to give him more of my time, I HAVE to buy him more toys and I HAVE to treat him with more patience. I will heal him. I pray for him and somehow I am sure that I do what I have to do.
After interventions at the School Inspectorate, he now goes at a different kindergarten. Children treat him as a younger brother, especially the girls, who hug him every morning. Some parents are reluctant: "Is he mentally ill? Is he violent?" Others look at him with compliance. Anyway, passive tolerance is all I can want, what more can I desire? I begin looking for therapy solutions and foundations that can help me. Yes, I need help, I cannot do this by myself, not everything depends on me! I begin to pray with fear... I also pray for me... "Lord, help me! This is all I can do, you do the rest!" The twirl stops, people around me try to support me, therapy solutions appear. I can feel hope in my soul. "Lord, You know why You gave me all these, help me see your gift in all these! May the presence of my child be an occasion for me to heal my wounds!" And yes, I am the mother of my child, but I am not the main element in his life! He himself has an important opinion and God is with him! Just like every child in this world, my son is also the image of God!
I got out of my hell-like twirl, I go straight ahead now and everything that I can do, I do it with God's help. I still want the people to stop staring at us, stop pointing fingers, stop speaking false and bad things about us. But I know that these are symptoms of the hell-like twirl in my soul. Beyond this twirl, I see my son as a happy, playful and lively child. "Lord, help me be a straight line and nothing more, Lord, you can put joy and love in my heart and healing for my child, for me, for people around him." I only wish one day I will be able to say "Blessed be my child's disease!"