Camren frequently "speaks in movie quotes."
As I am becoming more familiar with autism spectrum disorders--reading books, joining support groups, talking to other mamas--I am learning that this "phenomenon" is actually quite common. It's Echolalia: "Children babble
in a rhythmic way, which is actually mimicking the cadence of our
language. Later, they copy sounds, words, and eventually phrases
and sentences that they hear adults use in specific, repetitive
contexts." Camren watches a movie, memorizes all the dialogue, then uses it in his daily communication.
I suppose "Shut it down" came from a movie or television show, though we aren't entirely sure which one!
"Camren, I need you to put your shoes on."
"Shut it down, Mom."
"Come and eat, please. It's time for lunch."
"Okay, shut it down."
And on and on and on...
Recently, I spoke to a youth group about social media and how to best use it for good. I shared this little tidbit of info about Camren with them, in conjunction with the admonition to STOP THE ONLINE COMPARISONS! I showed them this comic strip:
AAAAAHHHH!!!! Do we do that? Do we post on Instagram or Facebook to get "likes" and then keep track of how many likes we are getting?? Are we keeping track of who's liking our posts, and then are we working ourselves into a tizzy when we notice who ISN'T liking our posts? ("Oh my gosh, she hasn't liked or commented! Is she mad at me?") Are we tracking how many followers we have and if our friends have more followers than we do? Are we making comparisons whenever we go online and then feeling bad about ourselves because of it?!
Shut it down.
I will never forget the birthday party we threw for Lilly a couple of years ago. It was at a beautiful, expansive park. We laid quilts out on the soft grass and had a picnic. I had a local bakery make and decorate some birthday cupcakes. They were perfectly pink. The sun was shining, the sky was a dreamy baby-blue color, and Lilly was happy.
As we were packing up to leave, a large group of people showed up. The group seemed to consist of family members and friends. I watched in horror as they led Shetland ponies to an open area and began setting up a "pony ride station." My jaw dropped when I saw the bunches of balloons and the gigantic banner that was being hung from the trees: Happy 3rd Birthday, Jack! I knew it was time to bolt the moment the giant bounce house inflated. I was quiet the duration of the ride home.
Why? Because I felt like the world's worst mom! I made a comparison--their "carnival-esque" party to our "lame-o one"--and concluded that I had failed. I had let Lilly down. I had thrown her a poopy party. I was completely bummed out.
But what would that sweet girl have said if asked, "How was your birthday party?" I guaran-damn-tee she would've replied with, "I had so much fun!" Our children love us unconditionally. Ponies or picnics.
One day I was lamenting to James about life. We were sitting at the dinner table after a long day of work and kids and busy schedules. It had been a rotten day and the weight of my discouragement and sadness was sitting like an elephant on my scrawny shoulders. I sighed, held back tears, and said, "James, I'm not a very good mom. I see all these other moms who seem to be doing amazing things in their lives and with their kids. I feel like I'm failing as a mom."
He looked at me and said simply, poignantly, powerfully, "That is the social media talking."
Shut it down.
I was curious as to what friends and family think about about this topic, so I went on Facebook. Naturally. I asked for their opinions:
"Sometimes social media becomes a place to watch others living what
seems to be a perfect life, and then you wish that it was you."
"I think social media can have negative and positive affects on us. When we compare ourselves to all that we see on social media, sometimes it can get to us. Jealousy can happen. We start to wish we could have what others have."
The bottom line is this, sisters and friends: No one is perfect. No one. Looks can be deceiving. What looks perfect is not reality. No one has a perfect life. And that's okay! We have to remember that our imperfections are NOT inadequacies. They bind us together as members of the human race. We are all in this together.
It was Brene Brown who wrote, "Letting go of comparison is not a to-do list item. For most of us, it's something that requires constant awareness. It's so easy to take our eyes off our path to check out what others are doing and if they're ahead or behind us. [We must] stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared."
Because we're all unique and special! I believe every man and woman born into the world is a literal child of
God. "Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents,
and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny." We all have a story to tell, greatness to contribute, love to give, a difference to make. And in the great big and grand and beautiful
picture of our lives, none of this social media crap matters! We've got to keep an
eternal perspective. We've got to cling to it! We've got to cling to what we know about who we
are and where we come from.
No one else can do what God sent us to this earth to do.
So take Camren's sage advice when comparison is attempting to rob you of your joy: Shut it down!