13 Mar Momspiration Monday // Suzie’s Story
There is no doubt about it. Motherhood has been the single biggest source of joy in my life. Yet, what I thought it would be and what it turned out to be are two completely different things. All mothers face unexpected circumstances and are often challenged with how to deal with the stress of the uncontrollable. This is what inspired me to write my recently released, Amazon best selling book, On The Bright Side: A Mother’s Story of Love and Healing Through Her Daughter’s Autism.
On the Bright Side is more than just a story about autism, it is truly a love story that can apply to all of us. To give you a glimpse, I’d like to start by sharing an excerpt from the first chapter, A Mother’s Dream:
A few hours after Kelly was born, my mom brought Natalie to the hospital to meet her new baby sister. I glanced over at Natalie, two years old, and gazed into her perfectly round, big, blue eyes. Then I shifted to Kelly, just born, and I made a silent pact with myself. I would do everything in my power to protect my girls—brace their falls, dodge schoolyard bullies, feed their healthy and growing young bodies. Things would go wrong; that was inevitable. When it did, I’d hug them so hard that the hurt would pass from their body into mine. They were my babies, my treasured pearls…..”
As you can see, this passage takes place at the beginning of my journey as a mother. Four years later, my hopes and dreams were crushed when Kelly was diagnosed with autism. To say that it changed all of our lives forever would be a gross understatement. Many of Kelly’s behaviors were disturbingly unexplainable, and as we started to lose our happy baby to autism, I felt lost and alone. I blamed myself for not being able to “fix” it. No matter how hard I tried, it felt like I wasn’t doing enough to figure out a solution, to bring back our precious baby girl. Nothing was working. I needed a hero, a super hero.
We tried all kinds of therapies, Applied Behavior Analysis, Speech and Occupational Therapy, but the single biggest thing that affected her angry irrational behaviors, insomnia, sensory issues and stimming (self stimulatory behavior) was healing her gut through food and a rigid supplement routine. The way I saw it, we had no choice. A year and a half after the devastating diagnosis of autism, we discovered that Kelly had celiac disease and over 35 food intolerances. Revamping her diet took a lot of adjusting and experimentation. At first, it was hard to believe that certain foods could be triggers for Kelly’s symptoms. But after eliminating the foods, then reluctantly reintroducing them only to discover the obvious adverse reactions, it became crystal clear that what Kelly ate or drank was without a doubt affecting her.
Removing the foods she was sensitive to made an unmistakably huge difference in her sleep, behaviors, tantrums, sensory issues, tummy troubles, and ultimately her and our happiness. With this profound realization, I became fiercely committed. Surprisingly, the right foods had the power to give us some control in a world where everything felt completely out of control, and that was a welcome change agent. People ask me all the time, “how did you know changing your daughter’s diet affected her?,” as if doubting the reality just as I did before our journey began. Watching the dramatic transformation in Kelly, it suddenly dawned on me – if food was that powerful, she couldn’t be the only one affected by it. So, I began applying the same principles to my own diet to see if I could find relief from my acid reflux, eczema, constipation and chronic pain.
Willingly, I became her partner in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. This is no easy task, and a few weeks into it, I realized that we were supporting each other without knowing it. There’s no question, I couldn’t have stuck to it without her – and on the flip side, my commitment comforted her. Something was driving me to stay the course. My gut instinct I guess, and no matter how badly I felt or how hard it was, there was no turning back.
Fast forward to today, we are still partners eating many of the same foods sticking to our healthy eating plan. Kelly, twenty years old, is a daily role model in my life. Every day her grateful words remind me to live in love, to focus on her gifts. Her smile makes my heart melt and the hearts of others. It shows the accomplishment she feels from overcoming the challenges of autism and finding her own happiness in just being herself.
Kelly’s ability to be in the present moment, find beauty in everything around her and to notice even the tiniest details in what she sees are qualities that inspire more joy. Despite being the only one at her school who eats a sugar free, gluten and dairy free diet, Kelly doesn’t complain. Instead, she wonders if the other kids would be happier and more confident if they too ate the right foods.
Kelly has taught me so many things, chief among them is to proudly focus on what matters most – health, happiness and unconditional love. Kelly makes me stronger every day. Knowing she can speak to me, share her emotions and count on me is a blessing to be cherished. I love being her best friend and can’t wait to see her spread her own wings and fly…
Five Lessons for all Moms:
Trust your gut: There is nothing stronger than a mother’s intuition. Listen to those internal messages and trust them, let them guide you as you make decisions, even the tough decisions. And don’t worry if it means you are doing things dirferently than those around you. Loving and doing what is right for your child is the ultimate accomplishment.
Choose your words wisely: Think before speaking. What do you really mean and what is it that you ultimately want to accomplish with the conversation? Is it possible to come to a place of mutual respect, thus empowering your child to make their own decisions?
Lead with love: Come from a place of pure love, meaning no agenda, no attachment, no judgement. Let go of expectations – yours and others. Find the spark in your child and foster that. Let go of fear and trust in a divine power, the power of unconditional love. Accept your child for who they are. Guide them gently and lovingly providing structure as needed but not so much that they lose sight of their own path.
Never say never: There were so many times I thought something would never happen and every time I was wrong, like potty training, tying shoes, and riding a bike. They just took more time and energy to master. Give your child time and room to learn how to fly. Kindle their spark even if it feels tiny and helpless. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Believe in miracles.
Listen to what’s really going on: Slowing down and simply listening to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. By listening to them, you show them how much you value their thoughts and opinions while also giving them permission to express their own thoughts and feelings. Many problems can be solved simply by listening.
Suzie Carpenter’s mission is to love the world back to health. She is a pioneer in the clean eating movement and focuses her work on how to help people harm themselves less with food. Suzie hosts workshops for businesses who want to inspire and motivate employees to embrace a healthier lifestyle. She also teaches cooking classes, runs detoxes, and offers health coaching to individuals and families. Suzie published her first book, On the Bright Side, a Mother-Daughter Healing Journey, in December of 2016.
Do you want to share your story of motherhood with others? Do you have a momspiration you’d like to nominate to share their story and encouragement? Tell us about your Momspiration Monday by emailing us at [email protected]!