Autism Dad: Fake it ‘til you make it

A few years out of college, the only job I could find was as a door-to-door salesman. I remember it clearly. I was picked up in a van and dropped off in a suburban neighborhood with a motley crew of six mostly obnoxious guys. On my first day, I received training from Greg, the beer-guzzling sales manager, who accompanied me to my first door. I wanted to run and hide, but I kept telling myself: if you want to live at the beach, you need a job — any job! The door was opened a crack by a man who was not in a particularly cheerful mood. I tried as best I could to deliver my 15-second sales pitch, but no words came out. Greg walked me back to the sidewalk.

“I don’t think this is for me,” I said sheepishly. He wasn’t going to let me off that easily. Instead, he shared a little nugget of sales wisdom: “Fake it ‘til you make it.” I went to the next door and I didn’t feel any less nervous. It’s not easy to fake it when you’re terrified. By the fifth door, I was getting my spiel down – not perfect, but the fear on my face had receded and was replaced with a natural smile. With more practice, I no longer felt I was faking it. And in fact, I held this job for another eight months, earning enough money to subsidize my beach lifestyle and postpone entering the real world.

Door-to-door sales isn’t exactly a noble career and I thought I had vanquished this unpleasant but necessary chapter in my life; today, however, it came roaring back when a friend questioned my motives behind the Autism Dad blog.

First order of business: “I think you’re trying to find a rich girlfriend,” she said, “who will be so touched by your circumstances that she will take you under her wing.” 

“Brilliant insight,” I replied. “Because being an unemployed single dad who lives with his dad while raising an autistic son is such an irresistible package!” She had no come-back, so she tried a different tact:

“What is this, a campaign to refurbish your image, to reposition yourself as the world’s best dad?”

 

Ouch! Her beef was that one day I asked her to watch my boys for a couple hours so I could finish an Autism Dad essay. She even used the h-word against me. I will concede that she had a point. In the future I mustn’t put my readers ahead of my boys, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Score one for her.

This raises an interesting point: am I portraying myself in a false light? Am I guilty of emphasizing my good qualities to the exclusion of my not-so-good qualities? Is Autism Dad selling snake oil over the Internet instead of door-to-door?

I’ve thought long and hard about this. We all want to look good and avoid looking bad. Like most parents, I am far from perfect. (In the name of full disclosure, last week my little 4-year-old spilled ice cream on my dad’s couch and I erupted in anger, causing Ryan to cry hysterically.)  If there exists a gap between the idealized version and the “real” Autism Dad, that is not such a bad thing in my book. It points me in the right direction and gives me something to strive for–to become the man that I want to be.

You see, there is something powerful about putting it down in words, about constructing a roadmap.

A year ago, I attended one of those motivational seminars that are easy to mock, but which sometimes offer a useful nugget or two. The facilitator spoke about the power of declaration. He said we can transform ourselves simply by declaring a new way of being, a new way of existing. Autism Dad is my declaration.

I am not transformed, but I am transforming. I have not arrived at my destination, but I am moving in the right direction — inch by inch, day by day, word by word. The role of dad is something I’m still trying on for size—and I must say, I like the way it fits and feels.

As far as being a dad, who knows if I am “making it.” What I do know is, I’m no longer faking it.

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This entry was posted in November 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Autism Dad: Fake it ‘til you make it

  1. Anyone who says they’re already there is full of cr@p or completely delusional. We’re all on the journey to be the parents – and people – we’d like to be.

    And heck, if it lands you a rich, sympathetic girlfriend, well, all the better. 😉

  2. Lynn Taylor says:

    I think I have read everything you have written……never had the feeling you were looking for a ‘sugar mama’ or a girlfriend. It is very easy for someone on the outside to look inside our lives and pass judgement. If you meet someone with like interests or desires, so be it. Good for you, bad for your friend. Adam, are you sure she is your friend??

    • Autism Dad says:

      Hi Lynn: I agree — I think it’s one of the silliest things I’ve heard. I might have to re-examine the so-called friendship. Thanks for reading…and for getting me 🙂

  3. akbutler says:

    what a great motto for what we go through everyday. No one gives a guide to parenting, and certainly not one for our kiddos. I think we all fake it until we make it. We have to.

    • Autism Dad says:

      You’re right, “fake it ’til you make it” is applicable to so many of life’s events, from a job interview to a date! LOL.
      It’s great to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way, Alysia!

  4. Kara says:

    A few years ago, I started a blog (not unsinkable kara mcgee, btw) when I was going through infertility treatments. My readership included other women who were experiencing the myriad of emotional problems that we face as we go through infertility. This group of women bloggers that I was a part of was amazing, it provided me with great emotional support as I went through one of the most difficult events of my life. The sad part was that my then husband could not appreciate the support I was getting and would frequently comment about my “friends in the computer” and was obvious to me that he was feeling a bit jealous which may or may not be your friends case.

    After my divorce and with the start of a new blog I am finding it difficult to find that connection that I had with other readers…but slowly and surely I am learning more about myself, what defines me and people that I have things in common with. Once again finding people and once again connecting with “friends in the computer”. Bottom line, my life is richer for it. When we are going through an event and can receive support from the kindness of strangers who are also going through similar experiences it creates community and often times give us strength to move forward.

    You may be the inspiration for someone to start a blog of their own, find a support group for parents of children with Autism or create your own network. And if you find Autism mom out there – what a bonus it will be.

    I hope this helps and I hope you continue with your blog. Always remember and never forget – It’s your space.

  5. Autism Dad says:

    Hi Kara: Thanks for sharing your story — that must have been such a difficult chapter in your life — the one person you’d expect to support you would be your husband. I do think there may have been some jealously there or she was just being a smart-ass :).
    I will definitely keep the blog going — thanks so much for all your support. It’s a gorgeous morning in San Diego and in five minutes I will be driving north to pick up my boys — so excited!!!! Regards………….

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