Putting on the Brave Face

Brave Face From: Happy Aspies

On May 23, 2004 I woke up with contractions. I made Wolfie pancakes and tried to ignore the pain. I was not ready for labor. It wasn’t supposed to happen for another week and I wasn’t ready yet. I had no bag packed and Eliot’s parents were out of town. I drove to my parents house with Wolfie and we hung out there for awhile. Eliot was finishing up some things around the house and going to pick up a dresser from a friend. My Mom took one look at me and told me I was in labor. I didn’t believe it. It hit me like a ton of bricks around 5:00 why I had been denying that labor was, in fact ,here. Wolfie was playing with blocks on the floor and I was struck by his beauty and how much he depended on me. This would be the last time we would be a family of three. He was going to have to share. We all were. This was a time for bravery and I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge.

All of those thoughts went completely out the window as soon as I looked into Hamilton’s eyes. He was a beautiful and healthy baby and I was in love immediately. Of course I had enough love for both. Why was it ever a question? Looking back on that day prior to his birth I understand that I was afraid. I didn’t know how it would all work out and that was terrifying. It was hard at first, but we found our groove and never looked back.

While my children were little, people would ask me what I was going to do with myself when my kids were both in school. I would think about what it would be like to ”get my life back”. What it would feel like to have hours during the day to focus on something just for me. I had no idea that time would come so fast. Or that it would knock me off my feet the way it did.

The first day of school I had a bad case of butterflies all day long. Pretty normal I thought. After all, I had just dropped both of my babies off for the day. I cleaned and organized closets and grocery shopped on my own, while obsessively checking my phone for any missed calls. The second day was pretty similar to the first. Lots of cleaning and organizing and checking of my phone. I avoided writing and now I know why.

Yesterday I was sick of cleaning. We didn’t have a good morning before school and I had an enormous lump in my throat. I took apart some toys that had been taking up space in the basement and I contemplated working in the garden. I settled on a shower and then sat down at the computer. I intended to write about the morning, which I did, but I also kept wanting to interject little tidbits about the kids that really had no bearing on the story. The floodgates opened and I felt the pain I had been stuffing down all day with full force. I missed my kids. My identity for the last almost 8 years has been wrapped around these little boys of mine and now that they were gone for the day I really had no idea what to do with myself.

I wasn’t expecting this. At all. When my kids were home all day I tried to stay in the moment and realize that the little phases that we went in and out of wouldn’t last. Good or bad, they were all temporary and just part of them growing up and the beginning of a long lesson in letting go for me. I am here to tell you that it all went by way too fast for my liking. And I wonder, could I have embraced those times more? The answer is absolutely yes. Yesterday I found myself longing for someone to hold or someone to ask me a series of questions over and over until I thought I would explode.

I have never understood why people choose to have another baby at the precise moment their other children are in school all day. It seemed like such poor planning to me. I get it now. I completely understand the desire. I was immersed in it yesterday with a force so strong I thought it would pull me under. I had no idea I would feel this way.

I am not saying that I want another baby exactly. I am not at all ready to make that leap. I have heard it said that you should do what you are passionate about. And, it turns out that what I am most passionate about are my children. I am okay with my role as Mom, first and foremost. Being Mom to my boys is the best thing I have ever done and while I miss them as babies, I am looking forward to enjoying them at this phase of life.

I no longer have complete control over what they do with their time. I cannot shield them from pain they will feel from the outside world and I cannot control what phrases they hear and who they spend time with at school. I have to place trust in the people educating them while I am not there and I have to trust them to ask for help when they need it. These are the years that shape who they will be as adults and I don’t want to screw it up. I feel an enormous amount of weight going into the choices that we make now for our boys. Choices are fluid, I know, but they seem so much more impactful now.

It was easy when they were babies to just love them up all the time. Feed them when they were hungry, change them, sing them to sleep and watch them learn new and exciting things. All under my guidance and love. I am giving over some of the job of guidance to school and I’m not sure about that. I think it is good to not be sure. It will keep me from becoming lazy in my quest for quality education and social interaction for them. My role is different, but the important stuff remains the same. Love, trust and understanding. This is what being a mother is all about. This is what I will do. It’s what I am passionate about.

This is the beginning of a new phase of mothering. Time to put my brave face on.


How often do you put on your “brave face”?


Stephanie Stewart
I don’t have asperger’s syndrome, but I am married to a man who does and we have two wonderful little boys. Our oldest son, Wolfie, is seven and has asperger’s syndrome.
Stephanie Stewart


I don’t have asperger’s syndrome, but I am married to a man who does and we have two wonderful little boys. Our oldest son, Wolfie, is seven and has asperger’s syndrome.

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