There are amazing, devoted, wonderful, deliberate mothers out there, and each week we’ll spotlight one of them here at Power of Moms. Do you know a mom who deserves a little time in the spotlight? Email rachelle.price (at) powerofmoms.com. We can’t wait to meet her.
Introducing Becky Ackroyd
What are some unique and interesting aspects of your family or your approach to mothering? What do you do that is a little different than what seems to be the “norm”? What have you decided to prioritize in your mothering that you see as somewhat unusual?
With three children, one child with severe ADHD, and one with autism, raising my children has required learning beyond the typical. It’s kind of unusual that I’m always reading books about therapy, treatments, or parenting for special needs kids. I’d usually rather feel empowered than entertained.
Through my children’s challenges, I have learned that I have to educate myself so I can advocate for my children. I used to think that to advocate for a child, a person would have to be abrupt or harsh. I hate confrontation, and fortunately have found that I can usually advocate without alienating.
Because so much energy is directed toward my children with special challenges, I’ve set aside one evening each week for my middle daughter that doesn’t have developmental challenges. She is happier and kinder to everyone in the family when I’m consistent about having our one-on-one time together, and it’s so much fun! We’ve painted nails, sewn doll clothes, painted a dresser for her room, secretly delivered treats to friends, helped her learn to ride her bike, and lots of other simple and fun things.
What have you decided to NOT prioritize in your mothering that many other moms seem to think is important and worthy?
A few years ago, I’d invested a great deal of time and passion in developing a part time photography business that I was proud of. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism, I decided to put career interests aside for the time. This lets me put more energy into her therapy and have time to do all the food prep for the special diet that has helped her so much. While I really have an affinity for stylish homes and clothes, for now, I’ve tried to disengage from the culture of constant upgrading. This helps me have the time and energy to really be with my kids, and to help them rise to their challenges.
What have been your favorite parts of motherhood? How do you cultivate joy in your journey as a mother?
I’ve learned to celebrate my children’s successes–even if they would be a small matter for a typically developing child.
I’ve learned that I have to take care of myself. Getting enough sleep if at all possible, eating right, and taking time for prayer are key for me in not losing my temper, or feeling that the life I’ve been dealt is too hard. I used to say “yes” to everything. Now, I’m more selective about what I say yes to. If it won’t a) strengthen relationships; b) help someone in need; or c) support my core values, I usually politely decline, so that I don’t end up without enough time for the things I find essential.
I try to notice which activities rejuvenate our family, and try to do more of it–swinging at the park on a lovely breezy day, nature walks, squirt gun fights. Simple things like leaving the mess in the kitchen to jump with my kids on the trampoline for 5 minutes helps me feel the joy in raising my busy bunch.
What have been the biggest challenges of motherhood for you? What are the hardest parts of your typical day as a mom? What coping strategies do you have for getting through hard times and hard days?
There was a time when my daughter’s autism ruled our lives. Her tantrums, low frustration tolerance, and need to insist on sameness in every detail of her life limited how much I felt I could even leave the house. For about a year, my daughter was awake for 3-4 hours in the middle of the night screaming, at least 3 times a week. She didn’t have the communication skills to tell us what was wrong. We later learned she was in intense pain from digestive tract problems, which are common in autism, and treatable. We feel very fortunate that our daughter has responded to a specialized diet that addresses the GI problems, and has made such great progress in therapy that none of the severe issues mentioned earlier are a problem anymore. I learned to keep looking for different approaches to my children’s challenges, and not give up, even if the first specialist I speak to doesn’t have the answers that help my child.
What have you learned from motherhood? Please share a specific story or incident that really taught you something.
Invest in the supportive relationships in your life. When things are hard, and someone offers help, don’t reflexively turn them down. I’m still working on that one–but I’m getting better! If the people who care about you don’t know how to help, find a gentle way to let them know how to help. When my daughter was first diagnosed with autism, the grief was so raw. I couldn’t talk about it in a conversational way. I decided to start a blog so that I could write what was in my heart. My blog was a concrete way for friends and family to support me, which helped me through some dark days. Now I keep blogging to share my daughter’s progress, and to share things I wish the world knew about autism. I’d be honored if you stopped by Holding Tomorrow.
What have you learned about motherhood that you wished you’d known sooner and would like to pass along?