When our son was born, my husband and I started on a confusing journey. Even though I have a doctorate in brain behavior relationships (in adults), I did not understand my son's development and his specific needs. After a series of assessments and interventions, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age 5 through our local Easter Seals diagnostic clinic.
The journey was very strenuous and isolating. We received a lot of advice, much of it either dismissive ("New mothers just don't know how much kids cry") or chastising ("That wouldn't happen in my home").
We enrolled him in a local day care at 4 months, and he attended two days a week while my husband and I alternated our work schedules. Our son cried much of the time and rarely slept. I remember when he was 10 months old, I picked him up from the day care and found a note from his primary care worker. It said, "Your son's crying is disrupting the class. Please have him better by tomorrow."
There was a lot of parental shame and blame (either overt or implied), as if we could do something different so that he wouldn't be struggling.
Fast forward to 4 years old. Picture me sitting in the pediatrician's waiting room (our third pediatrician). I had only met him briefly once a few months prior for a wellness check. I was mentally rehearsing my speech about getting a referral for an autism assessment.
The session was a blur to be honest. I only remember two things.
1) He referred us to Easter Seals for an evaluation.
2) He said, "I hope you know you're a good mom."
I was shocked. Through all the advice and evaluations and therapies and isolated struggle at home, no one had ever said that to me. I had never said it to myself. I know that if I had asked my family or friends if I was a good mom, they would have said, "Of course you're a good mom! That goes without saying."
But I realized it doesn't. It doesn't go without saying.
Now I know. People need to hear those words spoken, perhaps more than they need any other advice or information. People need to be seen; their journey and efforts should be honored. It takes two seconds to say "What a great dad you are" or "I really see the heart you have for your son. What a blessing that is to him."
It takes two seconds to say. So say it. Say it out loud to someone today.