Dear Kinder Mums…

Dear kinder mums,

It’s not you, it’s me. Well it might be a little bit you.

You see, I know I’m not easy to get to know. I’m sure I come across flakey and distant. Even when we find ourselves in situations where you can’t avoid smiling politely and attempting small talk; my attention is never with you 100%. I am always strung so tightly, scanning the environment for triggers, on high alert for the next crisis.

The few times we have attempted the playground after kinder, I have always had to leave after five minutes, as my daughters eagerness to play with your children is always overridden by her anxiety and over stimulation. Maybe you think I’m one of ‘those’ helicopter parents? Hovering in the background, just waiting.

At every birthday party, when you happily drop your child off, I’m there. Sitting toward the back, or in a corner. Monitoring the room, trying to anticipate what will happen next. Will those balloons pop? Is the dry ice going to start again or will that laser light shine in that certain direction that my daughter hates? (disco parties are it and a bit for five year olds right now) Sometimes, on really bad days, we have to leave. “I’m sorry, thanks so much for the invite, but we’re not having a good day and we’re going to have to go home.” It’s always ‘we’, because we are one and the same in these kinds of situations. I am absorbing my daughters anxiety, I feel her fear, I am her advocate. “We’re going to have to leave now.”

I try and time kinder pick ups so that I don’t have to wait out the front. It’s not often that any of you really attempt to talk to me, but even if you do, I struggle to know what to say.

You see, my daughter is autistic. And your everyday chit-chat is different to my everyday chit-chat. Every conversation we have, her autism weighs in, because that is who she is.

Please don’t think I’m ashamed of this and that is why I struggle to bring it up. It is actually the opposite of that. I am so incredibly proud of the person that she is. But that 5 minute conversation we have, in passing, can never do justice to that. Because all you will hear is autistic. I won’t get a chance to continue- my daughter is autistic, and she is such a unique individual. She has amazing insight, and sees the world in ways I can only imagine. She is incredibly intelligent and has a memory like you wouldn’t believe. She loves geography, animals, space, this kid has a thirst for knowledge that is insatiable. She is quirky and funny. Affectionate and compassionate. Everything she feels is HUGE. Love, fear, happiness, sadness. She feels it all on such a scale, it takes my breath away.

Here’s the thing, and this is where it is kind of up to you; I am not easy to know. My life is complicated and messy, whilst being ridiculously ordered and inflexible. I am a contradiction. But at the same time, I think I would make a good friend. No matter how insecure and anxious I feel, I always try to greet you all with a smile and a kind word. I hold the door open for you, I rattle my brain for something coherent to say, even if it is just about the weather. (Luckily, we live in Melbourne!)

If you just took a minute or five, I’m sure you would see that I have a sense of humour. Give it a bit longer and you will see that I am passionate about what I believe in, yet at the same time, totally not afraid to take the piss out of myself (or you, if we are really good friends) I am loyal and kind, fierce and afraid. My daughter and I may appear different, but give us a chance, and I’m sure you will realise that is actually a good thing.

And if you are not one of my kinder mums, but a kinder or school mum all the same, how about taking a chance on that odd, helicopter, distracted mum? She might not have a blog, and actually have to keep all this inside her own head (can you imagine?!) Maybe she is standing outside kinder or school, wishing she could make a connection but not knowing how to cross that divide she has created in her mind. Maybe she is a special needs parent. Maybe she is just shy. Maybe she is really lucky and both, like me.

With love, (and a little bit of hope)

Jane xx

31 comments on “Dear Kinder Mums…

  • Ness , Direct link to comment

    I hope you find a kindred spirit among your kinder mums. I really wish we could say things honestly like this, because I’ve personally given up on all the mummy cliques. Your daughter sounds like one special little soul. xo

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      Thank you Ness. Mummy cliques are such hard work, aren’t they. It’s funny, I hear this so often from Mums, where are the mums actually in theses cliques?! Not reading blogs obviously ;) xx

  • Christine , Direct link to comment

    Oh boy do I know this feeling!
    My stepson was diagnosed with autism while in kindergarten, and while he desperately *wanted* to have friends and play with the other kids, he never quite got the hang of it.
    Unfortunately not much has changed (he couldn’t cope at a mainstream school and he’s now at a specialist one, with plans to shift him back into mainstream at the end of this year/start of next). He still desperately wants friends, but has no opportunities of meeting peers nearby. My heart breaks for him on occasion. I wish I could connect with those kinder mums/school mums and say “please, he wants so badly to be included, he just doesn’t know how”, but more often than not, it was just too hard all ’round.

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      Oh Christine, that’s so sad. I really hope he manages to make some special friends as he gets older, I’m certain they are out there xx

      • Keisha , Direct link to comment

        Never mind, I’ve found the answer, even though it’s totally not obvious.There is no ‘INFO’ tab on my Page.It’s another “LIKES” area.Just under Timelines image, there is a area for Photos, Likes and Maps.These Likes are for people that like your page.Underneath the “Recent posts by others” is a box called &#i2.6;LIKES”1Th8s is where you find the pages that your page has Liked.So, two areas for Likes for different reasons.Hope this helps someone else.B.

  • simone jones , Direct link to comment

    Jane your words strike true as always. I just discovered I am “that” mum too. First school orientation, teacher changed the schedule and I walked up and say “I need to end “our” session for today”. Did the other parents milling around think I was a helicopter mum? I will never know, I didn’t get the chance to say hi, as I was on alert for triggers and rushed her out before the inevitable meltdown hit in front of her new class. Huge hugs to you hun. You should come to a ASD mummies catch up.

  • Lisa , Direct link to comment

    I am so proud and glad to know you and have spent time with you, gorgeous girl. Those other Mums dont know what they are missing. When are you moving to WA????

  • Natasha Ngarua , Direct link to comment

    I can totally relate! I couldn’t have expressed it so well though, well done!

  • Karmen , Direct link to comment

    I feel like this with both my children.
    Thank you for sharing… It makes me feel ‘more human’ knowing that others are experiencing the same issues

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      You’re welcome Karmen. And thank you, it makes me feel better hearing from so many others who have felt the same too xx

  • Sonia Life Love Hiccups , Direct link to comment

    Those mums are making a HUGE mistake and they seriously have no idea what they are missing out on by not getting to know you. Although we have never met in person, I feel like I know you really well and I love what I know about you hun. I would feel utterly privileged to have you as a coffee buddy and playdate mate and I hope those women wake up and realise it too before they miss out altogether xx

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      I don’t know how I missed this when you first posted Son, and I feel terrible that I never replied to your comment. How I would love to see your smiling face at the school gate, and catch up for a coffee after drop off! Hopefully we will at least get that IRL coffee date one day xx

  • Zoe | A Quirky Bird , Direct link to comment

    It can be so hard making new friends. An online community is great but, sometimes you just want someone who will make you a casserole when you’re sick.

    Hun, you’re not alone. I have a great online community but my friends are few an far between. It seems harder to break the ice the older you get.

    Good luck and hugs. Zoe xx

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      Thanks Zoe. It really is so hard to make new friends as an adult, especially as a stay at home mum I find. xx

  • Lydia C. Lee , Direct link to comment

    Could you try inviting them over – I organise pizza dinner in the park (or picnic) – some people come, some don’t. It’s just great to have a community. It’s hard to constantly be the person doing the inviting and having no one turn up (or just a couple) but I do think it’s worth persisting.
    I started talking to this mum who never speaks to anyone and no she’s quite chatty. I assumed she just thought I was too old (I’ve a good 20 years on her) so started doing it as a challenge (I can be a bit weird like that) but she was just shy.

  • Maxabella , Direct link to comment

    I completely relate, Jane. My son was/ is a very anxious child and I spent morning drop off getting him into school and the afternoons reassuring him. It felt very isolating and for a long time I felt that other mothers couldn’t relate to me. I was jealous of their “easy” kids and it was very lonely. Then one day after a particularly harrowing morning one of the mind asked if I was ok and instead of my usual bright smile and nod, I said “I really not.” We went for a coffee where I learned about the dreadful bullying her high school son was going through. That was that: from then on I stopped thinking that my parenting road was harder than others and instead reached out to offer my support. And support and friendship came back in abundance. all I know these days is that I could not have gotten through those early school years without them. x

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      So glad you made some beautiful friends Bron. I’m hoping my time will come next year, when Milla starts primary school. I’ll have 13 years to try and build some friendships ;) xx

  • Michelle , Direct link to comment

    Hello Jane,
    Reading your blog is like being in my own head! I too have a little boy on the spectrum who too has just started at Balcombe Grammar this year (I am a little behind on this post as a friend has just introduced your site to me).
    I also am the mother who stands by herself not knowing how to communicate because all I know now is Autism. I don’t know how to talk about everyday stuff with strangers as my stuff is different to theirs and I do not want to be that person that people don’t want to talk to out of pity.
    One day I hope our paths cross in the playground because to me, you sound like my own voice. I hope Milla is settling into school nicely as it is a bit of a struggle for my little guy.
    Best wishes and I look forward to reading more from your journey.
    Kind regards

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