A few of the bloggers that I follow recently wrote posts (such as this one and this one) in response to remarks Jenny McCarthy made at the AutismOne Conference. After reading a transcript of part of her speech, I’ve decided that Jenny is right: I am a Victim Mom.
Don’t know what a Victim Mom is? Don’t worry, I didn’t either. Here’s a transcript from Ms. McCarthy’s keynote address in which she explains the difference between Warrior Moms and Victim Moms:
This is something I touch about every year on — and that’s the Victim Moms vs the Warrior Moms. And you’re both out there, so hopefully you can recognize yourself if you are a Victim Mom after I explain this. Um, when our kid gets diagnosed, obviously I think we all fall into that same thinking of “Oh my god, I’m going to die. Not my kid. What am I going to do?” And there’s this part that takes place — a moment where you have to decide, are you going to take charge? Are you going to give it everything you possibly can to save your kid? And then something surprising happens with a lot of other moms. They — this is all subconsciously, but they fall into this victim role and they like it. It’s almost as if they didn’t get attention in their lives and this — see, I see a lot of moms shaking their heads — see, I’m sure you’ve met them too, you guys — um, they didn’t get attention and now this incredible door opens where all of these people come over and say, “Suzy, oh, Suzy, I’m so sorry, is there anything I can do for you?” There’s all this attention. And they’re looooving it. They’re loving having people feel sorry for them. They get extra, you know, home cooked meals from their neighbors. Ya know, oh… So to me, I can’t stand that. Like when people do that I’m like shut the f*@k up and get away from me. I don’t want your sympathy. I’m over here. On this train. This warrior train.
In case you are wondering about the bit about trains, I read a bit more over at the Generation Rescue website. Jenny McCarthy is the president of this organization that advocates for the recovery of children with autism. Its founders state that autism is caused by childhood vaccinations and can be cured through proper medical treatment. In her message on the website, Jenny writes:
My goal was to learn everything I could about autism and its treatment. I looked far and wide. I dug deep. I like to use a train analogy. There’s Train A: You do absolutely everything you can for your child, no matter what anyone tells you. There’s also Train B: Woe is me. I’m a Train A person, and when I landed on Generation Rescue’s website, I knew I had found my home station.
After this minimal amount of research and self-reflection (because it seems apparent to me that neither facts nor scientific data are required to make statements about autism), I knew I needed to craft my own post. I thought that, in case you didn’t immediately draw the same conclusion about me being a Victim Mom as I did after reading these remarks, I should provide examples about myself. So, here are the thirteen reasons why I don’t deserve to be called a Warrior Mom.
1. I blog about my son. My son has autism. I like when my stats show that people are reading my blog about my son with autism. Ergo, I like the attention. Sure, I spent over two years blogging about my son before I knew he had autism, and I would still be blogging about him even if he hadn’t been diagnosed. And I certainly enjoyed the attention that my blog received pre-diagnosis and took pleasure in knowing others were checking out my blog. But I wasn’t a victim back then.
2. I try to work the phrase “Woe is me” into at least one conversation each day.
3. I’m not the world’s best cook. Plus, as a working mom, I’m not always excited about coming home from my job to make supper. And hey, who doesn’t love free food? Therefore, I tell everyone I meet that my son has autism. Now, excuse me while I wait by the door for the free home-cooked meals that are owed me.
4. I refuse to pose nude in Playboy to increase autism awareness.
5. I don’t have the nerve to tell people who offer sympathy upon hearing about Philip’s diagnosis to “shut the f*** up.” I assumed this would be rude, but apparently I’m just wallowing in my victimhood.
6. I don’t have a ticket for the Warrior Train. To be honest, I’m not really sure where the station is. I’d probably end up on the wrong platform anyway.
7. Speaking of trains, I didn’t realize there were only two. When the doctors were explaining to us that autism is a spectrum disorder, I took that to mean that the causes and manifestations would be diverse. I thought it meant that, when responding to my son’s autism, sometimes we might need to take a bus, other times that we would need to drive the car and at still other times we would be walking. Damn it, no one told me about these two trains! I guess I missed the boat.
8. I’m secretly pleased that we moved to a small town with limited resources for supporting children with autism. Sure, I like to publicly say that it’s been great being closer to family who offer us support with Philip. But, if I’m completely honest with myself, living here also gives me more fodder for complaining and garnering sympathy. For example, I had the chance to write here about driving 140 miles round trip on three separate occasions just to get an autism diagnosis. More recently, I got to write here about the 60 + miles round trip we drive to take Philip to a sensory needs class. Woe is me! (So glad to have worked that in for today.)
9. Until I read Jenny’s speech, I believed that Philip’s autism was forcing me to be a better parent and a better person. I thought I was learning patience and acceptance. I thought I was learning to be more creative and tolerant. I thought I was learning to appreciate each success that Philip experienced whether it be in the form of trying a new food or learning a new skill. Now I realize I’m just relishing my role as a Victim Mom.
10. I’m not trying every possible cure or treatment. Sure, I thought the reason was because of our geographic location or a lack of insurance coverage and personal funds to cover the costs. I also thought it made more sense to give those strategies that we do have available (our great preschool, creating routines at home, etc.) time to take effect. If I were a Warrior Mom, though, I’m sure that I would have found a way to be more aggressive in curing my son.
11. I refuse to pose nude in Playboy to earn extra money to pay for those treatments that I’m not trying.
12. Did I remember to say “Woe is me?” today?
13. I’m not trying to recover my son. I am not trying to fix him or cure. Instead, I’ve been spending my time loving my son for who he is. My bad.