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You're a Mean One.... Mrs. M.O.M

Joan crawford2 By Cathy Jameson

M.O.M = Mean Old Mom    

The mother of one of my oldest childhood friends told me that’s what Mom meant. I was in third grade. I could not believe that she said those words out loud! My friend’s Mom was tough as nails as a parent, and she had her kids’ respect at her fingertips. She was nice and helpful as friend’s Moms go, but she also scared me with her quick commands.  I said I’d never turn into that kind of Mom when I grew up.

When Ronan’s issues flare up I do turn into that M.O.M. I bark orders instead of asking help. I get more vocal as my frustrations grow. The volume in my household increases and the Easy button is no where to be found. If I don’t get a grip on whatever has unraveled, I usually end up in a mushy mess of tears. My once-peaceful world crumbles as I resist the urge to smash my fist into a wall.

I wish that I could remember that “this too shall pass” because it always does. In the heat of the moment though, Ronan feeds off my frenzy which adds more negativity to my present moment.  I think I do the same when he has his own tough days. Bad days for Ronan include sensory overload, chronic constipation or disappointment from trying to communicate as a pre-verbal child in a very verbal world. Watching him flounder makes me feel tired, cranky and authoritative. On those days, that side of me proves that I have turned into M.O.M. 

I’ll be honest I don’t always know where to go for help when it comes to parenting Ronan. I haven’t found one book, one website or one person with all the answers. As I morph into that less than desirable M.O.M. I said I’d never become it’s usually because I forget that all I have to do is ask for help. At that point it’s beyond time for me to cool off and squash my worries.  If I remember that I have found reliable books, website and people for support, I don’t need to send myself into a Time Out to catch my breath in order to jump back into real life again. The resources I have found are never under one roof but I’ve gotten used to hunting and pecking for information. Even if some sort of “Yellow Pages” guide existed with key words to help me find the right person or lead me to the right department, it sometimes takes slaying a seven-headed dragon to step foot in that direction.

When I decide to change my own attitude despite what is currently trying to bring me or Ronn down, I’m able to set my mind on getting done what needs to be done. With my determination and always being able to see Ronan’s abilities, I feel I have become an upgraded M.O.M.:  Mom on a Mission. This new and improved M.O.M. is able to decipher and then manage how to get Ronan’s needs met which always remains at the top of my list of things to do.

Since time is ticking away, I feel the need to work diligently in my quest for help for my son. Ronan lost several of his skills half a childhood ago. I can’t help but think and worry that time is not on his side to gain or regain some of those skills.  Receiving all the answers I crave won’t be served to me all at once.  A small amount of pessimism clouds my always hopeful thoughts and I realize that something or someone will inevitably try to slow me down again even after I turned into Mom on a Mission. But, I won’t allow that someone, their attitude, unforeseen budgeting problems or rolls of red tape stop me for too long.

It’s true that many parents like me have trouble finding adequate services and assistance for our children. Describing the troubles parents encounter as difficult is an understatement. Avoiding delays isn’t always successful so I try to learn the ropes as quickly as I can from those that have come before me. Thankfully I’ve have gotten some advice which either shortened Ronan’s wait time for services or tipped me off at the right moment to avoid an unnecessary detour to receive other assistance. Since that advice was so helpful, my mission to learn and do for Ronan includes paying it forward. Sharing that useful information with another family is critical for me because I’ve always said I hope that no one else ever has to go through the suffering Ronan has had to endure.  Knowing that I gave another family the chance to slay their own seven-headed dragon as I ultimately destroy mine is a gift.   

Telling Ronan’s story is part of the new M.O.M. I prefer to be. It offers a peek into the life of a vaccine injured child when other sources say vaccine injured children simply cannot exist.  Ronan is real. So is his injury. Sadly, the vaccine injury didn’t have to happen. The medical choices I made for Ronan could have been different and even avoided. If I’d only known what I try to share with others now, what a different life Ronan and I would be living! 

When I started to write a few years ago, I realized I could put on paper what was screaming at me in my head.  It started with, Why me? Why my son? Those questions were and still are the biggest questions I have. As Ronan grew, and when his medical specialists outnumbered the fingers on my hands, the more I was yelling at myself.  While questioning how this all happened to him, and to understand Ronan’s situation better, I began to seek out other people who had special needs children. I asked about their child’s experience and onset of delays. I wanted to know how they discovered it and did it have a name – was it Kanner’s autism? Was it Asperger’s? Was it that vaccine injury information I just discovered? I compared how those children with Classic autism had a few similar traits as Ronan but then, not so much. I contacted families with vaccine injured children who were willing to share their story with me, too. How the similarities grew!

While looking for specific answers for Ronan’s increasing medical problems I contacted his medical providers hoping they’d be able to offer more information outside of the exam room. I wrote a lot and read even more. I later discovered that Mito disease terminology and thought, Bingo!  While researching mitochondrial issues, I actually thought I had more answers about Ronan than questions.

Over time, I turned all of my wondering and learning into stories fit to print. Writing allows me to lose the fear that’s building inside me. Before I blow a gasket or cry my eyes out, I find some quiet time to write so I can get my negative thoughts out. I’m no different than the next parent--typical or special needs parent--because we all have bad days. Our children do also. Those are the tear your soul into shreds kind of days.  I find I crave writing on those days.  I won’t always write about the hardships I force myself to push through since it’s easier to retell the good stories. Sharing those parts of life help quell my own anxiety which brings back my mostly upbeat attitude.

Refreshing reminders of Ronan’s development are what I desire to share—the fact that he did start to walk when others didn’t think it possible; the fact that he can read when others wouldn’t give him the chance; the fact that he can say a few words when others said more speech and language therapy probably wouldn’t make a difference. 

As much as I’d wish for purely easy, forever happy and always hopeful days, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows floating across my front lawn.  Ronan works incredibly hard to gain bits and pieces of his missing and delayed skills. It’s a strain on him physically, mentally and emotionally. I feel those same physical, mental and emotional burdens as well as financial and spiritual struggles.  It all comes down to how I resolve to keep one foot in front of the other in how I survive every day. As I work toward understanding and then balancing all of Ronan and all of me, I feel like I’ve paved a better path on my mission of truth and hope.

If you lined me up with a bunch of other parents, I’m sure we’d all be able to share a few stories about how unsuccessful we’ve been with our kids and their needs. We’d all have really enjoyable memories of the good times while also being frustrated and cranky a time or two during the bad. We’ve all dealt with some sort of struggle that made us stronger though. Through it all, we’ve all walked along side one or all of our children wanting to be their brightest beacon of light. During the times we’ve faltered, some parents might handle their stress better than others. Me? I’m a work in progress. Among those parents lined up you’d be able to pick me out of the crowd--I’m the one with kids who have mix-matched socks and unbrushed hair who scarf down the store-bought snack while saying they are still hungry. I’m probably clinging to the end of the proverbial rope saying that the only way left to go is up so hang on tight, kids! 

I’d much rather be the new and improved M.O.M.  Transforming from mean and old to positive and directed gives me the energy to get up and celebrate Ronan’s growth while standing at the ready to conquer anything that attempts to knock me or Ronan down. I have dreams for all of my kids—to be successful in whatever path they chose while having compassion for those less fortunate. That dream includes Ronan’s successes, too.  My kids are grateful to feel the renewed spirit I have once I get a chance to stick to my mission instead of watching me teeter off to the edge when I’m stressed.

Mom on a Mission. It’s a lot of work. It makes going forward toward Ronan’s hopeful recovery more meaningful. I’ve picked up new ideas, meet new friends and discovered new coping skills for myself along the way. I know we’ll get to a place of recovery, Ronan and I. I’ll still arrive at least five minutes late even though I was ready an hour beforehand. I’ll still have children with un-matched socks (and shoes on a really bad day) but we’ll make it to wherever we need to go. My kids probably think I’m nuts as I run here, there and everywhere to make life happen. I know they sense when I’m about to breakdown so I try desperately to shield them from the special needs emotional Mommy meltdown I sometimes have. They want to kick Mean Old Mom to the curb when that side of me emerges. In their young minds they think I’m the Cat’s Meow who has nothing but love and hope for each of them. They tell me they think I will be cool forever. I really hope so.

Being physically, emotionally and spiritually strong to help my typical children while walking Ronan’s path with his needs is the biggest challenge I face as a Mom. Taking care of myself and my husband while we are outnumbered by children, stressors and future what ifs adds to my life’s purpose. Despite my own heartache and the unfortunate lessons learned I have the chance to make life better. I know one day I’ll be able to say mission accomplished because in all of this, I’m determined to give Ronan the ability to regain his true potential.

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.


KFuller Yuba City, Ca.

Thank you for this Cat. Keep up the good work you do for your kids. Keep believing, and when it comes to Ronan keep shouting...Yes he Can! Celebrate each and every step of his progress, because one step leads to another. Time does pass very quickly for our kids, and it can be overwhelming to think about. But, never give up. My 18 year old boy motor planned buckling his own belt last week,I wonder what connection in the brain is right next to that and what will be next. I am also a Mom On A Mission, but when the naysayers try to take me down I become that Mean Old Mom!

Jill Fenech

Amen, sister.


Couldn't agree more....I try to be the mom on a mission but those bad days make me so "mean" and then I feel guilty for being "mean" and then there are tears and it's all just a terrible spiral of unproductive bleck. But that's usually what reminds me what this mission is; to get Sweet Girl to where she needs to be. We've never met and I'm betting we live a country apart, but you are SO not alone in this. Thanks for sharing this!


jane Casey

I just started working with this guy Kirk Martin he sends out daily emails about how to work on your inner calm (I am working on this and it is working!)

It is a challenge some days though isn't it?


I had to laugh, I remember a time when my children were freshly scrubbed, hair cut to precision, now I sometimes look down and see last nights strawberries on my three year old's nose, and worse. He needs to be potty trained, and I haven't had the time, so he says, "do I have a diaper on", I shout back..check., he says', "okay I'm gonna pee". I have to get on that! But I have to "get on" something all of the time, and I know HE will be okay. The lion's share of attention isn't going to be his, not yet, maybe later, until I can "fix" his brother.

Adam M

I feel your pain. But more important so does HE.

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:18

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

Psalm 103 (New International Version, ©2011)

Psalm 103

Of David.
1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the LORD, my soul.

Donna K

A true coincidence that you should mention being a mom on a mission--I'm wearing my Moms on a Mission for Autism T-shirt this morning. So many days, and now years, it seems like such a mission impossible. More often I hear myself barking orders like a Marine Corp drill sargeant instead of calmly coaching my kids. My own father was a former Marine Corp drill sargeant who exhibited such extraordinary self control that I can count the number of times on one hand that he let slip a glimpse of what being all you can be means. Most of my friends from my life pre-autism would have described me as above all else, demure--imagine Lady Diana. Mothering infant triplets, as exhausting and demanding as that was for me, didn't wake the hibernating mother grizzly that charged out of her slumber until her cub was caught in the jaws of the autism trap. This mission to release my injured child from this trap has made me a different person. I'm much more assertive and confident, and sometimes that can come across as a Mean Old Mom, but my family fortunately understands that it comes from being a Mom On a Mission.


I think you're so right on and your post speaks to the truth and that no one understands a special needs parent like another special needs parent. (something a great friend of mine taught me) it's so important to have a circle of friends even if it's just one person who truly knows what you are going through... So on the days when we revert back to Mean Old Mom ... we have someone to cry to who won't judge us but encourage us... thanks for your words and honesty!

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