|Brandon wearing a "Forged" t-shirt.|
Mother's Day to me has typically been as dreaded as April, Autism Awareness Month. I don't begrudge those typical moms who can go out to eat at a fancy restaurant with their spouse and their typical children who will actually sit and can eat the food served -- I don't begrudge them their handmade gifts or their store bought cards. (I do begrudge them their day of getting to do nothing though.) I just can't relate to the commercialism of Mother's Day any more than I can relate to the celebration of Autism Awareness Month.
My son doesn't even fully understand who I am, let alone what that day means in how he should cater to me, so how in the world could I ever feel all squishy inside by store bought or assisted hand-made anything "from" him? With that said, I have so appreciated the efforts of Brandon's therapists over the years who have made sure that on Mother's Day and Father's Day, we get something from Brandon. It is a very sweet gesture, one that I do cherish...
But, for me to survive how crushing Mother's Day actually is for me, to have never, ever heard a word from him, let alone an "I love you, Mom!" -- much like April and Autism Awareness month; May, and Mother's Day must mean something more than words or gifts.
And it does.
The shirt he's wearing is from Forged. I first learned of that brand of clothing from my Navy-son. He absolutely loves their t-shirts and shorts. So of course I keep him stocked with their latest and greatest and tried and true regulars. One day I decided to read about what this "Forged" means. And I was duly humbled. I fell in love with what they stand for. Who they stand for.
From their website:
Click here for Forged website
What is Forged?
FORGED® is the relentless fighting spirit of those who conquer adversity through life's everyday battles. FORGED® is the military Man and Woman, the Firefighter, the Law Enforcement, and the Volunteer who sacrifices everything that they have to safeguard the nation that they Love. FORGED® is the Entrepreneur, the Inventor, and the Political leader who risks it all for an idea that everyone tells them is impossible. FORGED® is the Architect, the Builder, and the Educator who strives to lay the foundation for their great country. FORGED® is the Warrior, the Athlete, and the Professional who dedicates their life to a discipline that brings great pride and happiness to their families or nation. FORGED® is the everyday Man and Woman who refuses to accept defeat and aspires to make a better life for others before themselves.
YOU are Forged®.
I like that last part, "the everyday Man and Woman who refuses to accept defeat and aspires to make a better life for others before themselves."
I think that describes the warrior moms I know. Especially those like me who have severely affected children who haven't been "recovered" or "cured" - but who have come so very far from where they first began.
Struggles... Triumphs... Fighting spirit... Everyday battles... Conquering adversity.
Yep, I am forged.
We all in the autism community are.
I guess that's why I'm drawn to everything warrior. Camo, Combat Boots, their inspirational quotes and clothing. I need a warrior mentality to survive this "Life with Autism and Seizures" and they help to provide it. Each and every day it is a battle against something or for something. It is me David versus them Goliath and most often I feel I don't even have a stone or a slingshot. It is those days looking back, those hottest of fires, that have forged me into not only the person I am, but the brave warrior mom I never thought I would have to be.
And on Mother's Day while typical moms are getting gifts and cards and dinners and the pampering I can only dream of from their children, I'll simply know that the gift Brandon has given me could never be bought or made. It had to be forged. He forced me to face autism when all I wanted to do was hide under a rock and pretend it didn't exist. Yes, I wanted to do all I could to change his stars, but more than that my desire was to run so fast and far away that the reality could never catch nor find me. Over the years his autism and his seizures and his bowel disease and his immune issues and all the myraid of things to deal with, have slowly forged a faith that has been tested over and over again by the hottest fires of doubt, discouragement, and disappointment. Not to mention the many, many, many defeats. But the world doesn't teach you to value those things. Mother's Day doesn't celebrate those things. Hallmark doesn't make a card for those things...
So yes, on a day when many will be reflecting on the accomplishments and the good in their children, enjoying the things their kids can make for them that mine can't, I will know in my heart of hearts that I am who I am not because of those things, but because of how I have been forged from those other things that aren't glamorous nor graceful. Because of Brandon I have dared and defied. I have stood up and I have spoken out. I have found courage while drowning in a sea of fear. I have learned that bravery isn't always running forward and being a hero, it is sometimes simply refusing to take a step backward or give in.
I learned how to live because of how Brandon survives. Each obstacle, challenge, adversity, and battle. He has endured. He has overcome. And in the process he has forged a strength in me to do the same. I never thought I would challenge a medical system. And I did. I never thought I would be an advocate. And I am. I never thought I would go to Washington, D.C. to speak out for him and others. And I have. Three times now. I never thought I would have to clean up the unthinkable, yet I have. For an unfathomable amount of time. Perhaps that's one of the best things Brandon has forged in me -- a sense of humor through it all.
I have had nothing left to give at times, but I have never quit. I may have been forged from the adversity of autism, but in the process I have found faith, unconditional love, and a HOPEISM not even the fires of hell could consume.
And believe me, hell has tried.
Brandon has forged me into the warrior mom I am today.
He inspires me to do all I can for as long as I can to make a difference for him, and for others.
I am forged.
And I can't think of a better Mother's Day gift than that.
To all my warrior mom friends who didn't volunteer for autism but were forged into it ---
Happy "Ain't-No-Warrior-Mom-Gonna-Get-No-Time-To-Rest" Day!