There were hard years.
I'm sure there will be more.
I'm sure there will be more.
Devastating times when I wasn't sure how our family would move forward. How we would make it through one more day. How my marriage would survive. How we could continue to all live under one roof. Things happened I don't talk about publicly.
There were many sleepless night.
What would the future bring?
Why me? Why my child?
Why must we endure a life this hard?
Why must I watch my child struggle to fit in? Be accepted? Be happy?
We were exhausted.
Betrayed by the universe, insurance companies, schools...friends.
What had we done so wrong to be cursed with this affliction?
Change happens slowly. Sometimes at an infinitesimal rate.
A crack in those bitter feelings, here or there.
The ability to see joy in the faces of our children. They find happiness in a different place, a different way, yet it's there. The darkness isn't as pervasive as we once thought. Our eyes are open, bit by bit. Sometimes they snap shut again, but we slowly begin to see the small slivers of light.
We loosen our grip on the dreams made years ago, realizing we can't move forward without setting them free. We create new dreams. Different, yet important.
Acceptance begins it's slow journey into our hearts and minds. The realization that none of us are ever promised a perfect life.
None of us.
That how we play the cards we're dealt makes the difference between love and hate. Joy and sadness.
I can no longer fight my own children.
I am not the victim of their autism.
Because, yes, life can be so.utterly.hard.
But, autism isn't being done to me. Autism just is.
I will help my children. Fight for them. But never, ever claim to be a victim of them. I won't sit around feeling sorry for myself. What does that accomplish? It just drags you deeper into a hole that maybe one day will swallow you completely. That's not the life I want, no matter how hard things get.
I must be a champion for my children. Their cheerleader. The one convincing the world of how beautiful they are. That they are not wrong. Damaged. Worthless.
I love them more than I ever thought possible. I will accept them for all they are, good or bad, easy or hard.
I won't focus on the tough times. I won't look for heartache, but instead look for times of joy. Joy I can share with others. I will focus on the light, because it's there. Even when we can barely see it.
I will not be a martyr. I will take a long look at myself, and change what needs to be changed. Be honest about my part in my children's behaviors. I look back and know there were times I made it worse, not better. It isn't just about them. Their issues. It's about my issues, too. It's about treating them with respect, and not damaged goods.
They are my children.
Whole. Lovely. Mine.
Raising a child with special needs is challenging. We must deal with more than others. Prepare for life down the road. But we cannot allow that to get in the way of enjoying them. What they bring to the world. We must do what needs to be done, take the extra steps we' are required to take, but without wishing for something else.
Because, no matter what, that's not reality. Not how the world works.
There is no magic wand. No time machine. No crystal ball.
No one said this would be easy. Not by a long shot. But we can still make a choice. Take the path of fear, anger, sadness. Shaking our fists at the gods for the life we've been given. Finding the negative in everything that comes our way.
Or, we can choose to see our children as the gifts they are, just as they are. Showing the world true acceptance. Showing our children unconditional love. Showing ourselves and our children how strong we are, and how different is never less.
Which will you choose?