Sunday, August 9, 2015

Autism Mom Guilt Bingo

This week, my sister-in-law posted a funny graphic on Facebook about mom guilt. Entitled “Mom Guilt Bingo,” it first appeared about a year ago on the blog Sweet T Makes Three. What makes this bingo game so amusing is that it is so true: we moms frequently second guess ourselves when raising our children and feel bad about our mistakes. Of course, some of the items included in the Mom Guilt Bingo are tongue-in-cheek, such as “High Fructose Corn Syrup in the House” and “Birthday Party Wasn’t Pinterest Worthy.” However, others squarely address those issues where we feel we’re not doing enough as our children’s mothers.

This week, I felt my own pangs of mom guilt as I eagerly prepared to start teaching another school year later this month. As I bought school supplies, revised syllabi for my classes, photocopied handouts, and decorated my classroom in anticipation of a new group of students, I felt that yearly pang of guilt about actually enjoying a job that takes me away from Alex every weekday morning. Mind you, he’s twenty-three years old, supervised by his beloved father while I’m away, and sleeping some of the time I’m at work, but I still worry that somehow my absence is detrimental to him.

While probably all mothers feel guilt from time to time, autism moms feel guilt that typical moms do not. We wonder whether we have done something wrong to cause our children’s autism—probably going back to the now debunked and completely ridiculous “refrigerator mother” theory that our supposed coldness impaired our children’s social skills. Moreover, we worry whether we are doing enough to make our children better. With those perceived shortcomings in mind, I offer my version of Autism Mom Guilt Bingo.

B is for Borrowed—Here are the squares I borrowed from the original Mom Guilt Bingo that also apply to autism moms:


Incomplete Baby Book

Work Outside the Home

Hiding in the Bathroom

Used TV as a Babysitter

I is for Imagined causes of child’s autism—what we may have done during their early development, according to “research”:

Got sick during third trimester

Wore nail polish while pregnant

Passed along autoimmune tendencies

Too many ultrasounds during pregnancy


N is for Need to do this to keep child happy and mom sane:

Allowed child to rewind Disney videos over and over

Put child in GoodNights in the daytime when too big for diapers and pull-ups

Told child white lies

Let child slam doors and turn on and off lights in nightly routine

Engaged in routine of saying “Bye-bye” repeatedly during credits of television shows

G is for Gosh, I’m not proud of this:

Wanted to poke out eyes of people who stare at my kid

Jealous of parents who have typical kids

Made Rain Man jokes

Considered making T shirts that read: “I’m Autistic, What’s Your Excuse?”

Blamed, begged, and bargained with God

O is for Overloaded with toxins unknowingly:

Cooked in aluminum and nonstick pans

Built deck with (arsenic) treated lumber

Followed (thimerosal-containing) vaccine schedule faithfully

Gave Tylenol after shots

Child chewed on his flame-retardant pajamas

No one said that motherhood would be an easy job, and autism adds a whole new dimension of struggles to raising a child. Being human, we moms make mistakes, often unintentionally, and we pray that our shortcomings will not harm our children. Thankfully, we can rely upon God’s forgiveness when we fall short, and our kids are more resilient than we think they are. I’m especially blessed that Alex never holds a grudge; when I tell him I’m sorry, he readily accepts my apology and moves forward. (Occasionally when he’s OCD, he will remind me, “Mommy made a mistake in 1996,” but usually he doesn’t hold too much against me.) Without a doubt, I am the one who holds me accountable for my mistakes, and guilt ensues. However, I need to remember that if God and Alex can forgive me, then I need to forgive myself and let go of the guilt. Oh, and one of these days, I will finish Alex’s baby book, maybe someday after I retire from my job.

“You forgave the guilt of Your people––yes, You covered all their sins.” Psalm 85:2

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