I knew when I set out on this blog-writing malarkey, I had to prepare myself as not everyone would agree with what I would write. I also considered that maybe nobody would agree with what I would write and even went as far as thinking, nobody would be reading what I write or give two shits what I write.
I didn't just wake up one morning and think 'Shit to this, I'm gonna write a blog'; I didn't even know what a blog was in all honesty. For those who can remember as far back as January when I first wrote In the Beginning...it was all about me dipping my toe in unfamiliar waters. Writing a blog had been suggested to me a couple of years previously but I didn't feel strong enough to publicise my feelings at that point.
This may be old ground for some people, but I want to mention it again as some readers may not know about those early times, not know me and Joseph and have only picked our story up later on in the game. Those people will be forgiven for thinking that I write without consideration for anyone else or have an air of arrogance in my writing style. That could just be as I gain more confidence in the journey that Joseph and I are on and a new found ability to shove two fingers up to some of the world.
I thought about how it would feel knowing that I am opening up elements of our lives that I have never been keen to share before and how some people would only read because they would like to gloat or nosey into our lives.
I also knew that some of what I would write would potentially be controversial; I don't seem to have the same opinion as all parents and certainly don't share the opinion of all parents of children with autism. I willingly put myself in a position that could end in me being ostracised by the blogging community, autism mothers or just anyone who doesn't agree with what I write.
And yet still, I decided to start the blog. Nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotions I have felt by opening up and the conversations that it has sparked amongst friends and strangers. I thought that people may read a little and lose interest (I am sure that has happened) but when I view the stats, I cannot comprehend the interest that my tales of our lives has generated and for that I am truly humbled.
If I had a pound for the amount of times I had been told that I should write a book, I'd have a least £14. If I had a pound for the amount of times I had been told how funny I am, then Rodders, I would be at least a millionaire, and if I had a pound for the times I had appeared to have hit a raw nerve, I would have just two english pounds to my name. Quite amazing really considering my language and the diversity of readers. You can't please everyone all of the time but you can please some people some of the time. Someone famous once said that, I do believe.
I've always known that my approach to mothering a child with autism is slightly different to others but there again my approach to life could be considered different too. As soon as I was able to digest Joseph's diagnosis, I maintained that I wasn't trying to change who he was, just trying to change the world around him; I'm not sure which one would would be harder in all honesty.
I am certainly guilty of writing each post making the assumption that everyone will have read the previous one and will know what I am alluding to when I make reference to a point made potentially six months ago. Now that the blogs are being exposed on other Facebook pages, twitter accounts, blogging sites and the Yorkshire Post (yes the Yorkshire Shitting Post!) it's easy to forget that people could be reading one in isolation and will form an opinion based solely on that.
There are pieces I write with a joyous bounce in my step because I am elated at a small success in our often muddled lives. But there are also those occasions when I feel emotionally exhausted because the literary exorcism has drained me of every ounce of energy reliving a difficult situation that Joseph or I have experienced. I then reach out to the one closest to me to let me know that we're doing fine and we'll get through it together.
If you haven't read from the start, you wouldn't know about the days that I have fought Joseph's corner so he has been able to exercise his right to inclusive activities. You wouldn't know that I have triumphed his successes with great pride as any parent would. You probably wouldn't know that I have sat and wept on more occasions than I have had a sub 27 minute parkrun and felt completely deflated because all I want is Paris (again, you have to read previous posts to understand my Paris and parkrun analogies so apologies! )
By stating that I wish my child didn't have autism, it's not wishing I didn't have him. Neither is it saying I have no love for the person he is. It's simply saying that if I had a choice where I knew my child would have less chance of being bullied, ridiculed, would sleep better and also be able to converse with me, find his true love, get a job and have children - then of course I would choose that for him.
If, as a parent of a child with autism you have never experienced any of those feelings and are quite content with the hand you have been dealt, it's bloody marvellous and I sit here now and have that admiration for you. Just because I don't share your opinion doesn't mean I don't have a right to mine, we just have different ones. As a society, we almost forget that sometimes. I know I do, because my opinion is always right isn't it....?
Finally, I was asked recently how I would feel knowing that Joseph could potentially read his story in years to come, now I talk about it on social media. Is it demeaning to him and would it affect his self esteem?
All I can say is, if Joseph reads this in years to come, I would be overjoyed if he could look back and see how I have endeavoured to protect him, nurture him, fight for him and his wonderful spectrum coat has empowered him and not hindered him. I hope that we share laughter and cry together once he knows much more of our rollercoaster ride. I pray that he will know that I did what I could to ensure his success, however that is measured. If he has any of my traits, he will understand that what I have written is borne out of love, pride yet often frustration and that he in turn will be proud of me.
It will be then I can truly say that we have arrived at our destination, that I wished for so long ago.