It's no secret that I have a high regard and respect for the U.S. Navy SEALs. My son's hero is a Navy SEAL, and because of that I have read all there was to read about them.
As a Warrior Mom of Autism, those books have inspired me. Those books share about the mental strength one has to have to be a SEAL. The same mental strength a Warrior Mom of Autism must have as well!
SEALs for the most part fight enemies they can see using a battle-tested strategy they have studied and prepared for. Warrior Mom's have no such intel and must fight an enemy we can't even see --- autism. Oh, we know it's there and has captured our child - what we can't see is exactly where it is. What we don't know most of the time is what to do. Mainly for me because my son can't tell me where it hurts. What is bothering him. How I can help him. SEALs must fight the enemy using rules of engagement that aren't fair. Mom's like me are engaged by an enemy whose rules constantly change and whose tactics aren't ever fair.
SEALs become SEALs because that is what they want to be. They fight because they chose a path that would necessitate they do that. Warrior Mom's are not Warrior Mom's because that's what they wanted to be. They were made to be. They fight not because they wanted to, but simply because they have to.
Navy SEALs enlisted.
Warrior Mom's didn't.
SEALS are the best of the best, that one percent of the nation whose character, willpower, strength and stamina cannot be beat.
The Warrior Mom's I know are the same.
To become a Navy SEAL, that BUD/S Candidate must go through a grueling testing. One of the "highlights" in that hell, is Hell Week. Those candidates must endure every form of physical training and "surf torture" a person could endure, all while not sleeping for more than four hours that entire week. Some Warrior Mom's I know have gone weeks on four hours of sleep. That Hell Week pushes those candidates to the ultimate extreme of what a person can handle both physically and mentally. As does Autism. They must be able to endure and survive Hell Week if they ever hope to survive a deployment to a war zone once a Navy SEAL. We must survive a diagnosis of autism if we ever hope to rescue our child from it. It's an unforgiving training, and one that is necessary if they are to become what they want to become and are -- the Nation's best of the best.
As much as "Hell Week" is the highlight of a Navy SEALs training, "The Bell" is the highlight of Hell Week. The bell as pictured above, is located at the "Drop Area" on the base in Coronado where they train. When a candidate can endure no more, for reasons only they know, they take that solemn walk to where the bell is and they ring it. They place their helmet under that bell on the concrete in a row where others before them have done the same. To the candidates who see that bell each and every day, it is either a friend or a foe. It is a motivator encouraging and challenging candidates to Never Quit as much as it is a tease that begs them, taunts them, and assures them they will give up and quit.
The test for a SEAL wanna-be -- is which voice will win.
I guess for me on this Mother's Day, as a Warrior Mom of Autism, -- I find that bell and all it represents more inspiring than any gift or Hallmark Card. I know that as a mom whose son is severely affected by autism and in all the ways that diagnosis has affected our lives - that bell represents all the extremes I have endured. All that all Warrior Mom's of Autism endure. In what we have to go through each and every day from the moment our child is taken by autism. In trying to reclaim them from that autism we sometimes daily go through our own Hell Week. For the SEALs, "The Only Easy Day was Yesterday". For us, "There Ain't No Easy Day."
Heck, there ain't even no bell for us to ring even if we wanted to!
Let that sink in...
In their training, the elite of the elite have a bell to ring for their pain to stop when they've had enough. They can choose to ring it and be free of the pain, or go on enduring the pain for the triumph over it that their earned Trident pin, the symbol of a Navy SEAL, will bring.
I know no Warrior Mom of Autism who has given up.
What I do know, is that there is a row of helmets of those who have tried to defeat us or our child, but failed.
The reward for those of us who never give up isn't a trident to wear, but our child that we've healed.
Or died trying to...
And that's what I want to share with my autism-mom friends on this day. Especially for those like me whose child cannot even make them a card for Mother's Day or tell them that they love them.
That you are the top one percent of Mother's in this Nation, in this World.
You have endured what no typical Mother could ever endure.
You have made it through each Hell Week autism has thrown at you.
You were not given a bell to ring when you've had enough and wanted to quit - and even if there were one for you to ring ---
From reading about Navy SEALs to keep my own mental strength where it needs to be to survive autism, I came across Richard "Mack" Machowicz and his "NDCQ" (Not Dead Can't Quit) philosophy.
I'll leave you with his encouraging words on this Mother's Day---
Dream! Dare! Do! N D C Q!!
Keep DREAMING the wildest dreams for your child...
Keep DARING to defy those who say those dreams can't come true...
Keep DOING all that is in your power to change attitudes, policies, discrimination....