It’s disheartening to hear so much sadness from parents who have children on the spectrum. I know days can be long and tasks arduous and I understand the feeling of isolation. I understand it all too well. I guess part of my sadness is knowing what it’s like to be the kid instead of the parent. I could sense my parent’s shame and embarrassment when my behaviors indicated I was anything other than the perfect child they wanted me to be. There were times when they’d rather not have to introduce me. It was easier for them if I were sitting in a corner reading or hidden away in my room.
Here I am, mom to my son who is also on the spectrum. When I look at him I see a precious blessing. On the hard days, I give thanks that God gave me plenty of patience and tenacity. The good days are filled with smiles and laughter and lovely moments as I watch my son skip and leap around our home. I wasn’t allowed to be so free when I was growing up. I wasn’t allowed to show who I really was. I welcome these things from my son. It’s an opportunity for him to express who he is in that moment and how he feels about the things he sees and experiences. I wonder, would he be so free if I felt shame and he knew it. Don’t think we don’t know how you feel. We do, even if we can’t verbalize it or not able to respond to it. We still know and it resonates with us for a very long time. Forever even.Our children whether severe or otherwise are able to reflect the loving kindness that is showered on them. They can also reflect other emotions as well. Just a few weeks ago I was getting ready for a presentation. My anxiety was higher than normal because I’d just learned that morning they were going to videotape the session. It was hard enough just dealing with having to present. Anyway, I was caught up going through all the steps, making sure not to forget anything. Somewhere in the course of the morning ( I’m not sure when) my son went into my room and made my bed. He’s never done that before. When I saw what he did, I stopped and took a deep breath. What a wonderful thing my son had done. He knew how important it was that my bed was made. I usually make it as soon as I get out of it, but this morning was different.
You see, I’ve also had a few short-term health issues. My son was an infant when I had a major asthma attack. My mom came out to take care of him for a day. When she saw I was strong enough to crawl she left me to care for my son on my own. When he was a toddler I had pneumonia. We didn't have any help then. I managed to crawl to the kitchen to get cereal, milk, juice, and water to drag back to my room so I could feed him without having to leave my bed. He remembers. Even now when he sees my bed is not made it worries him. In addition to that my son also knows on normal days, I always make my bed. Clutter kind of makes me freak out. It’s very hard to focus when the lines around me are somewhat off. So it’s important to have things neatly lined up and my bed made. I went into my son’s room to give him a big hug and thank him for helping me.I believe my son remembers some of what it was like when he was very sick, how I took care of him and watched over him day and night always reassuring him that everything was going to be alright. In his own way, he's returning the love. Whenever I’m not feeling my best he brings his stuffed friends into my room to watch over me as I sleep.
The things we don't speak about or even think that much about will be the very things our kids carry in their hearts and memories for the rest of their lives.
It’s the little things that mean everything.