Parenting is a mixed bag of delight, exhaustion, rewards, challenges, heartbreak, pride, humility, up and down, good and bad. Add autism into the mix and each of those things is magnified and illuminated and increased and, well you get the point. The hard things are that much harder, while the moments of pure joy are that much more. There is never a moment, even in the worst of times, that I’m not extraordinarily thankful for my son and the gifts he brings to me, to our family, and to everyone he meets.
Some days my heart swells with pride as I sit in an IEP meeting and hear over and over from teachers, principals, and therapists that my son is a delight, that he is friendly and polite, that he is sweet and a good friend, that he is amazing and smart. It’s encouraging and empowering to sit with a group of people who see your son for who he is (amazing) and want to help you make the best possible plan for his future. Those days I sail through with my head and heart high.
Some days I cry tears of joy as he reaches a milestone we’ve been working toward for months, sometimes years. To see the fruit of his labor and the fruit of my labor is motivation to keep pushing through on the days when we don’t see any progress. Those days we celebrate and cheer and high five each other.
Some days are slow and long. Some days nothing too big happens one or the other… there’s just a dozen tiny fires to put out and when the sun finally sets my tank is on empty. Those days I find myself counting the minutes until bedtime and when it finally arrives relief sweeps over my body as I practically crawl to the couch with the remote or a book. Those days end with me knowing the next day will likely be better, and if not … well, it will be okay.
Some days are precious. Some days he snuggles and laughs and creates and I love the little glimpses into his funny personality (“cheeky” as he calls himself.) Those days he blows me kisses, tells me he loves me and that I’m “a good girl.” Those days I draw out bedtime a little longer with extra stories and when he falls asleep I lay there a for a bit to watch him breathe deeply with his lips puckered out in total rest.
And some days are awful. Some days the fires I put out are bigger, and in public. Some days I feel the eyes of every other parent in the vicinity silently watching and wondering. And while I know that they are just curious, maybe sympathetic, I still want to sink into a hole to hide my child and myself from the stares. Some days, no matter how much you do right and no matter how much everyone tries to help, everything will go wrong. So after literally saving him from another life threatening situation because he has no awareness or concern for danger at all… and after a dozen other heart pounding moments… I reach the end of myself. So I cry on the way home from the pool and try to hide it from my sweet boy by turning up the radio.
Most days are good… some days are unbelievably amazing… some are hard… and some days the only thing to do is cry in the car, or the shower, or the closet.
And that’s okay.