Reflections of and on a probably Asperger's parent parenting an Asperger's kid (or 2)!

dragon pups

dragon pups

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why Dragons?

In today's age of corporate logos, highlight reels, and headline flashing, my husband argued with me vehemenently that I shouldn't have to explain how I came up with a name.  But one thing I have learned to embrace as a mother of a high-functioning autistic child is to embrace my instincts.  I have a sense of identify with this name, and here's why:

Ok, well I am not small.  My Wii Mii is as round as they can make it.  My child has taken to describing to me lately how much bigger I am than other adults around (nothing like the honesty of Asperger's!).  But my Wii Age is still younger than my actual age, so I am moving around pretty well for a big girl.  In truth, I need to be better about exercising and eating habits for a lot of reasons (and don't for a lot of reasons too) but I have also been the same weight for 14 years, through 2 pregnancies... I consider my size God's destiny.
But "Big" doesn't just describe my body.  I am very loud... in almost every sense of that word.  I have very good volume.  They have never given me a whistle on the playground.  My dad is a retired cop.  I have learned to be "present" from a young age (some take that as confidence, others as arrogance).  I wear my heart on my sleeve (I have always said that is fairest to everyone else so they know when to leave me alone).  I feel that it is my God-given responsibility to speak up when things can be improved, to "right the wrongs", to "call it as I see it".  I love deeply, loyally, passionately... whether it's taking care of my family, or teaching swim lessons, or picking up Appalachian Trail Hikers... I do my best to act lovingly to everyone.  If I were to die today, I want people to say, "That woman had a Big Heart."
There are other reasons to choose "Big".  My best friend in high school told me when we parted for college that her friendship with me taught her the true meaning of "depth of character".  The moniker I have earned as a camp staff member as an adult includes "Big".  I am deeply reflective, and pretty knowledgeable on a good number of things.  Lord knows I have often been accused of thinking too big!  I know that I am a "forest" thinker - a big picture thinker, sometimes so much so that I lose the "trees" (like punctuation).  Like Luke Skywalker, I get so caught up in seeing the possibilities that I lose hold of where I really am.
So, I am Big.

Well, I have had a preoccupation with dragons since I can remember.  Yes, I read too many fantasy novels (because I love how they have "big picture" plots!), so I have read many interpretations about what a dragon could be.  The universal attribute of dragons is power, whether for good or evil, a dragon's power is MUCH larger than it's actual size.  In many stories dragons possess the power of change... whether they change themselves or the world, they are usually described as being able to portray themselves in a way that makes them an integral member of the community they exert power in even though they are also outside of it, "above" it.  I am guessing this all appeals to me because I am probably Asperger's myself and have had a hard time finding a way to place myself in society... but I'll get into that later.
To me, dragons are beings of wisdom as well.  They always know more about the history and the context and the underlying circumstances.  Their minds and hearts are "big", full of knowledge. As beings of wisdom, they are Teachers, instructors that help to guide all the lives and events into the Great Web of Life, into that Divine Plan.  They are often guides to world around them, by their own ourposes or the purposes of others.  When the characters in a fantasy novel don't know who else to turn to, when they have exhausted all the libraries and wizards and sages, they seek dragons.
Then I became a parent.  Even before my children were born, I knew that I wanted them to know, have the power of dragons. I decorated the nursery with dragons (and you would be surprised!  There are LOTS of childish dragons out there!  It is sooooo cool!) based on a triptych of prints (I found at the Renaissance Festival) of a dragon growing up with a teddy bear.  I hope they will be able to see their own power and development mirrored in those pictures. (Of course the back of my head also thought - great! now we don't have to redecorate for every stage - a theme they can grow with = less painting.)
Then we started the process of "being" autistic - getting a diagnosis, accepting a diagnosis, finding treatments, negotiating with the schools, giving him room to BE himself.  My child is "high functioning", and has many skills more profoundly "autistic" people don't, but that doesn't change the fact that that one’s head just works in an alien manner, and the body is not always a friend.  My child needs to know the power of a dragon that lives inside the self... the power that lets one own your differences and release innate abilities.  In an article of a mother of a child with a terminal illness she described herself as a "dragon parent" - spewing the flaming hard truth of changed priorities when you know from the outset that your child never needs to be trained to be an adult.  While it is probable that my children will live that long, there is no guarantee they will function as an adult.  As the "people-first" language says, disabled is the only minority that ANYONE could join, at ANY time in their lives (car accidents, illness, sporting accidents, etc.).  That passionately honest piece of me wants to be the "dragon parent" that sees and speaks the hard truths, that values the Right Now because tomorrow is not guaranteed.  I need to find a way to worry less about eth future so I can relish the zest if the present.  I have joined the ranks of what the L.A. Times called the Warrior Parents - found my own dragon powers to fight, protect and nurture my great treasures.
So, I am a Dragon.

Well, obvious at this point, I am a mom.  The truth is that it is all I ever wanted to be.  I come from a looooong line of teachers, so there is some innate "mothering" behaviors that I have always displayed (whether emulated or instinctive).  Even in middle school I recognized those mothering behaviors in myself (with the help of my smothered best friend).  I have considered (and still do) parenting to be a sacred duty, the pinnacle of vocation, for my self and others.  Granted my perceptions and expectations of what a parent "should" be doing have changed as we have lived with autism, I still believe in the holiness of parenting.
And I still mother every body.  It is also a part of my camp moniker: "Mama", and not only because I answer to it! ;)  I am constantly reminding people to use the bathroom.  I kiss boo boos and offer advice, and I have high expectations of integrity for everyone while trying to genuinely love them, find where I can best help them, nurture them.  I share food, give lots of hugs, and bestow what insights I can. 
I am Mama.

So there you go.  That is the best explanation I have for BigDragonMama right now.  My bet is that it will get even more defined and clearer as I continue to grow into it.  I'll keep you posted! ;)

You know - I just read my "About Me" just under my name and found a summary:
I am a Connector - Big - my "what"
I am a Teacher - Dragon - my "how"
I am a Mother - Mama - my "why"

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