The One Where I Get All Sentimental and Stuff


October 25, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

I’m staring down the barrel at another year and for some reason this whole birthday-anniversary-The Guy I Live with’s birthday makes me all sentimental and retrospective. I reflect on my life, wonder how I got to this here place and think about where I might be going. It’s always a real wake-up call for me. You know, the whole “Life is What Happens When You’re Busy Making Other Plans” thingy.

I made plans. Tons of ’em. I was applying to grad school. I was going to work with special children forever. Ponder that for a moment. I KNEW I wanted to be with special kids. I had a freaking degree in it. I had dreams that I would get a PhD at some point, be a pioneer in Special Education, dedicate my life to helping children everywhere find their voice. I wanted to help people, help parents, help children.

But, remember, I also had four majors in college and it took me nine years to finish my undergrad. So. There’s that.

(No, I’m NOT flighty. I’m well-rounded. Big difference, yo.)

Now, you are going to think this is corny. Or weird. Or scatter-brained. Whatevs. What I’m trying to tell you is that things worked out the way they were supposed to work out.

I will indeed be working with special children for a long, long time. I kinda have no choice, like. I will be dedicating my life to them (whether or not I like that). I have a freaking degree in it, as in, I have a Masters in Autism from the University of Real Life. I’ll eventually have my PhD, right? (And no, I don’t have a degree in Google). Am I helping children find their voice? Am I helping people, parents, children?


I guess so.

I mean, I write this pointless drivel, right? It helps someone once in a while. I think. And, I’ve kinda turned unofficial advocate-ish type-ish, whether or not I wanted to.

Here’s the thing. Autism is in my life. It is in my children’s lives. It is in The Guy I Live With’s life. My family. My friends.

But I don’t want it to be my whole life.

Remember, I’m well-rounded.

I need other interests. I don’t want to JUST write about Autism. But somehow that keeps happening. I have other things I like to do, honest. It’s just…I don’t know what they are right now. I don’t want my entire life to be AUTISM AUTISM AUTISM. Is that ok?

I’m making it ok.

See, I see it as just a part of who we are. I’m not all BLUE EYED PEOPLE RULE THE EARTH. Or EQUAL RIGHTS FOR GINGERS. And I know that sounds silly, but I feel the same way about autism. It’s part of us. In our case it’s life-altering. As in, even just yesterday there was another jaunt to the park (and thank goodness for nice people who notice a petite boy sitting on a bench by himself eating lotion. Ahem.). But it’s not ALL of who we are in this here Casa. We’re more than that. It doesn’t totally identify us.

Now, I’m still going to advocate. I always will. My kids need me to do it. And until I can help Bugaboo find his voice, I’m going to have to find a way to do it for him (but still making sure it’s what he wants. No small task). But it’s not all of who I am or who I am going to be. Does that make sense?  No? No kidding. Like I ever make sense.

Now, I just have to figure out WHO I am and WHO I am going to be. Anyone have any ideas?

5 thoughts on “The One Where I Get All Sentimental and Stuff

  1. Jennifer says:

    You help me.

  2. You are a wonderful person, mom and writer. Just breathe… labels are just labels. Be who you want to be today and tomorrow, give yourself permission to be who you are tomorrow. It may not be the same and because you have *well-rounded* interests — tomorrow’s focus might be on something entirely different. We (as moms/women) have to give ourselves the collective permission to just *be*. (Me included!)

  3. akbutler says:

    You have just described the daily battle inside my head.
    When you figure it out, I can’t wait to read about it.
    (and by the way – you are helping people. Thousands of people. You just can’t see them. But we’re out here).

  4. I identified with this so much. Especially the last line and I was reminded of one of my favorite lines from The Iron Giant: You are who you choose to be.

    It took me 15 years and 4 school transfers to get my BA. And now I’m in graduate school – taking my sweet time.

    So I am all for you applying to grad school! Why not apply for an MFA program? You are a great writer. I mean, I know you don’t need an MFA program to write. But the thing that I like about it is -is that I’m with other writers. That I’m talking about something that has absolutely nothing to do with autism. That I’m writing about other stuff – not autism. That most of the people I take classes don’t even know I have a kid – let alone a kid with autism.

  5. DeNise says:

    You make total sense to me! 🙂

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