For the past eight years I’ve watched you.
I’ve stood in the hospital room waiting while he was extracted from his safe and protected place inside of your body, and I’ve sang along loudly to Happy Birthday as his eighth birthday cake was recently placed in front of him.
I listened when you told us he may never speak, and noticed as you both became frustrated with his inability to communicate at times. I watched him struggle and succeed,stumble and overcome….as time and age unmasked his “disabilities” to the big wide world all the more.
I tried to place my self in your shoes.
I tried to have it all figured out.
But truth is…. I never truly understood.
…..and I am sorry.
I am sorry for the times I criticized your parenting because it wasn’t my own. I am sorry for the times I didn’t check in when you were left feeling defeated, alone, or not enough, and I apologize when your family was uninvited from activities that I thought would overstimulate him without thinking about whether or not that un-invite would instead cause feelings of isolation for you.
I never meant to hurt you.
I just didn’t get it.
It wasn’t until I lost my two girls that I was able to understand just how much the world is unable to see behind closed doors.
I didn’t take the time to think that your smiling face at the playground was masking the total exhaustion of caring for your sweet boy all by yourself while your husband worked away. That a morning of tea, talk, and laughter was the extent of your social life for the next seven days, and I never understood that you were dealing with your own denials, grief, guilt, and fears for your family’s future.
So this Autism Awareness month (and all year long) i’ll continue to celebrate him.
I’ll celebrate that laugh that comes from way down deep in his belly…..the one that can’t help but brighten my day. I will embrace him as he climbs on my lap to cuddle, and I will light up as those little silent lips of his kiss my cheek each time we say goodbye.
But that’s not all of it.
I will also celebrate you.
I will celebrate that God choose you to mother him, to love him, and to protect him……. I will be inspired as you take such a life changing diagnosis and exchange your old dreams and expectations for new ones, and i’ll watch in awe as you continue to fight for him and be his voice in a world that doesn’t always seem fair.
I will never know what it is truly like to have a child with autism…but through you I have been able to get just a microscopic glimpse in to your challenging, exhausting, and BEAUTIFUL world.
So to someone who doesn’t get told this enough.
For loving unconditionally, for continuing to persevere through the unknown, and for being a voice of positivity and acceptance in this world even when you feel you have no idea what you are doing or if you have the energy left for the next challenge along the way.
You got this Mama.
You are doing an amazing job!