I read a sad Facebook post on the Single Mothers who have Children with Autism Facebook page, that started, “YOU MIGHT BE A SINGLE PARENT OF A CHILD WITH AUTISM IF…” and listed 25 (25!!?) ways to identify yourself in that category, many having to do with the inability to even think about dating. I know this post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but to me it seemed rather sad. And I guess it had to do with the repetition on the theme (and the assumption) that there is no hope for you in the dating world if you have a child with autism, and aren’t you better off anyway, being alone?
Does every single mom to a child with autism end up with a great guy? Heck no. I know how incredibly lucky I am.
I’m happy today because I stuck my neck out there and risked it all. I’m happy today because I decided I wasn’t going to be lonely for the rest of my life. Yes, you read that right, I DECIDED. I’m happy today because I valued myself as a person, no less than my son.
After my divorce, I was told, point blank, that no man would ever date me if they found out my son had autism. And I half-believed it. I joined the online dating scene, landed a semi-regular guy to see, and it was over in about a month. I was devastated until my gynecologist (Yep, you read that right, too!) asked, “Did you love him?” and I said, “Uh… No.” “Then you’re free!” he said, and it clicked. He was so not right for me, and I was not really myself for that month (although it was so nice to be back in the swing of things again!). I learned a lot.
Then I dated “Bachelor #2″. That’s actually what I called him, although not to his face. That lasted two, count ‘em TWO dates. You can read all about it here.
And then I gave up. I started to believe I would never find a partner and would only be lucky to date a guy here and there. So I quit. I quit the online dating scene, and didn’t pursue much of anything for a long time.
I had already known The Man a few years. We came into contact a couple months later. And then we hung out again a couple months later. And then again a couple months later, and every freakin’ time I walked away with a huge crush, and a long list of reasons why it wouldn’t work. And a few months later, inspired by a blog post (I’d link it, but I can’t remember which exact one it was…), and Fidelity by Regina Spektor, I decided that I wasn’t going to settle, and I was going to take a risk with my heart, if a risk was made available. And it was.
And here I am. Single Mother who has Child with Autism and a Partner (fiancé!).
I’m certainly not writing about this to brag, and this hasn’t been all rainbows and lollipops, not by a long shot. But it was definitely worth sticking my neck out for. And because I am happier, we are all happier. Much, much happier.
And I know how tough it is to make arrangements to just get out of the house. I KNOW. Listen! I don’t even have family in the area! I am lucky enough to be able to afford a babysitter, but even if I couldn’t, I’d hook myself up with a friend and swap time, or apply for respite from one of the many great nonprofits out there that provide it.
Single Mothers who have Children with Autism, you and your happiness are worth the time, effort, and risk.
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford