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Self-Care

Letting Go of Autism Mom Guilt (a guide to returning to calm in the midst of motherhood chaos)

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Last week I shared on social media our personal struggle with navigating aggressive behavior. Jacob had a meltdown and lashed out on the person closest to him at the time— unfortunately that person was Hailey.

As I laid there that evening, ice pack in one hand nursing my daughter’s jaw, whispering words of comfort to her, fist clenched in the other…
anger and sadness coursing through my veins. 


Thoughts of accusation and blame threatened to leave my tongue— words once spoken can never be undone.

And then she stops crying, she looks up and tells me, “mama, I forgive him. Tell Jacob I forgive him mama.” My sweet little girl loves her brother, and forgives him so easily.

I watched in wonder as her innocent seven-year-old self makes her way over to his bedroom the next morning to tell him softly that she knows he’s sorry and she’s forgiven him. 


I woke up that morning to brokenness. 
To shards of shattered glass that resembles the pieces of my heart. 
A mixture of plea and prayer that resembles groans more so than actual words.

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, since we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. 


Sometimes, we can’t find words to articulate our deepest wounds, but God hears us as we cry out for Him to enter into our hurt, our pain, our broken hearts…. the broken pieces of our lives. 
He can make beauty out of shard glasses. 

I wanted to unpack this a bit, and provide you with some practical steps you can take in case you’re struggling with a challenging season, and it’s wrecking havoc on your thought life and mental wellness. 

So, grab yourself a cup of tea, coffee, or wine, and let’s dig in.

(Disclaimer: please know that these are practical steps you can take in addition to seeking professional counseling or help– this does not replace medical advice especially if you’re battling depression and anxiety)

Do not blame yourself and replay the situation in your head. 

Remember, it is NOT your fault. As moms, we tend to spiral down the rabbit hole of guilt and shame. A split second is just enough time for your child to strike their sibling.

We’re fiercely protective of our children, and our hearts break when we’re unable to keep them safe— especially when it’s from each other. I promise that replaying it in your head will not result in a different outcome. What’s done is done. Let it go.

It’s time to move forward and forgive ourselves. Easier said than done, I know. But reliving mistakes won’t serve you or your family. 

Give yourself a mommy time out. 

In football, players are given a time out in order for the coaches to come up with a strategy or inspire morale (as explained by my sports fanatic husband).

In motherhood, how much more important it is for you to be able to step away from the situation in order to strategize how a. you’re going to show up and handle this situation b. to give yourself a physical and mental break from the chaos.

Breathe. 

While you’re sitting there in that bathroom or closet, practice breathing exercises. I know, I know. You’ve heard it said before, and Daniel Tiger is a big advocate for it, but the research shows that if you do breathing exercises, even if it’s just inhaling and exhaling slowly for even just one minute, it’ll reduce stress and give you a sense of emotional control.

Put that apple watch or timer on your phone to good use, and give it a try for one minute. 

Talk to someone. 

If your natural tendency is towards thoughts that can become crippling— especially if you’re in a particularly difficult season with your child, please seek help. Talk to someone.

I’m an internal processor by nature. I want to speak to God and no-one else about our daily struggle. But we are hardwire for community and belonging. Talk to someone who can sit with you through pain without giving advice. This can be a close friend, a counselor, or a therapist if you’re already seeing one. 

Laugh. 

Text or call a friend who knows you and your situation well enough to know exactly what to say or meme/gif to send over to make you laugh. Laughter not only lightens our loads mentally, but also increases endorphins. And we all can use some more laughter in our life, especially when things are hard, amen?

Get up. 

Physically get up and move your body. Go for a walk. Pull out your yoga mat— find a workout on YouTube or turn up the volume and have a dance party. I love gospel music— it speaks to my soul when my heart is hurting, I’ll put on some Cece Winans on blast while doing a mini pilates & bare workout just to get my body going. 

Change the setting. 

I do a lot of my work from my couch, and while I love the comfort of home I know that when I’m isolated and alone, I’m left to my own destructive thoughts. I can feel it in my chest and I start berating myself, I know that I need to leave. I need to get up and go somewhere that feels safe.

If I’m crunched for time and can’t make it to the beach or a lake, I’ll drive to church. And just being there fills me with God’s presence, and serves as a physical reminder that I’m not alone.

If I’m home with the kids, I’ll have us take a walk to the playground nearby or sit outside with a cup of tea just to have a change of scenery. 

Don’t feed the negative.

It’s so easy for us to give negative thoughts power. “Things will never get better” “what will I do when he gets bigger?” “What will happen to him if I die” What if questions will get you nowhere fast.

I’m telling you this from personal experience, friends. You are not alone in this. And we can do this together.

Speak life. 

Have a go-to scripture or affirmation ready. This will serve as a reminder of what is true about you and your circumstances when life gets hard. When the pain is unbearable— and you feel the walls are closing in, and there’s just no point to any of this…speaking life over your situation and circumstances will remind you that yes, you can get through this, and yes, there is a God who sees you, loves you, and will strengthen you especially in times of trouble. 

My go to verse is Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When I’m reciting it to myself, it sounds something like this “I am not afraid for God is with me. God will give me strength and help me. He’ll hold me up in his right hand. 

Saying words of affirmation out loud, and using first-person language helps you to personalize a verse to see how it will help you in your own situations. 

Your tribe matters. 

While this in itself can serve an entire blog post on its own. I want to just quickly remind you of just how important it is to surround yourself with people who love you. 

Not the Instagram/Pinterest worthy images of you that portray perfection, but the messier, heartbroken parts of you.

These are the girls who’ve got your back when life’s hard. The ones who raised their hands, and chose to walk alongside you. Lean into them. They’ll make you laugh and cry, but having these people in your life when it’s messy is invaluable. 

Gratitude. 

Rack your brain for something you’re grateful for. Try to be specific. Gratitude is one of the simplest ways to combat feelings of overwhelm. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Related: It’s Okay to Call it Quits

Related: Why Every Mom Needs a Don’t Do’s List

Related: Self-care for Special Needs Moms

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A STRESS-FREE (MINIMAL MELTDOWNS) HOLIDAY SEASON

want more joy this holiday season?

that you can do right now!

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