When I Realized My Anxiety Was Holding Back My Son's Independence


This past Sunday night we returned from a one-week vacation to our favorite resort in Jamaica. The resort has several pools and giant water slides.

Two years ago, my son, Dominic, and I almost drowned at the foot of the slides. We wanted to greet my daughter, Lauren, as she came down. We had not realized how deep it was. The lifeguard had to jump in and pull us to the surface. It was scary.

That incident was the number one reason I enrolled Dominic in swimming lessons shortly after we returned home. Last Friday (the day before we left), Dominic and I headed over to watch Lauren come down the slides. She had asked several times throughout the week if Dominic could go down with her. Each time I said no. I hadn’t thought of asking Dominic if this was something he wanted to do until we watched Lauren. To my surprise, he said yes.

I had a decision to make. Do I let my anxiety hold him back or do I let him try?  Lauren promised she would be with him the whole time. The lifeguard was also sitting within a foot of the bottom of the slides, so there was not a chance he would drown. I let him go.

He came down the slide with no problems at all. When they came over to see me, Lauren asked him if he wanted to go again. He said yes. They went down a few more times. Even now, with Dominic turning 13 in about four months, I feel guilty for not giving him more independence. Trying is a part of learning, right? I think it’s my inner “mamma bear” instincts of wanting to protect my “cubs.”  As Dominic continues to mature and become more independent, I need to loosen the restrictions I don’t mean to place on him.

I have already taught him what to say to me when I bug him too much. He says, “please just leave me alone.” I’m glad he can recognize those feelings. My relationship with Dominic is starting to change and evolve. I need to change with it, right?

Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s son.

Follow this journey on Bountiful Plate.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by kyuree

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chuck E Cheese's logo

Chuck E. Cheese's Offers Sensory-Friendly Sundays Throughout U.S. and Canada

Five months after partnering with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) to launch a sensory-friendly event at its fun zone in Attleboro, Massachusetts, Chuck E. Cheese’s is bringing its “Sensory-Friendly Sunday” program to 355 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. After launching its pilot program, Chuck E. Cheese’s expanded the event to an additional 54 locations along [...]
Illustration of woman with headphones on and a beanie, with one finger on her chin

How Audiobooks and Music Help Me Quiet the Thoughts in My Brain

I don’t hear voices in my head, but I do hear my voice, my brain. My brain is never quiet. Never. Most of the time I keep a constant monologue, a constant commentary on what is happening: What should I do? Is it time to eat? What did that person mean when they said that [...]
Little boy on the park playground in summer

When My Nonverbal Son Pulled Me Toward a Group of Kids for the First Time

My son is autistic. He is also nonverbal. He struggles with social skills, but he does not lack emotions. There is a difference. When someone cannot talk, it’s easy to assume he has no feelings either. Not being able to express is not the same as not being able to sense. My son has often [...]
moon sliver sitting close to a field with starts in the bakground

When People Say 'I Love Someone With Autism to the Moon And Back'

A few years ago I saw the quote, “I Love Someone With Autism to the Moon and Back” for the first time. This quote has resonated with me because of the countless families members and educators I’ve met who love someone on the spectrum. The amount of passion they have for their loved ones to [...]