WARNING: I try not to get all sappy and boo-hoo too many times in a short amount of time, but I'm just going to get it all out.
All I can say is, "Goodness, I'm glad this week is OVAH". It's been a pretty tolling week for me. Well, let me rephrase this, it's been hard for my entire family. Brady started Kinder on Wednesday and a program called Brain Highways last Sunday. Both have been mentally, physically and emotionally demanding.
Our schedules are all haywire. To top off my nervous martini, Brady is now riding the bus home. I wait in my driveway with knots in my belly awaiting his return in the afternoons.
He has therapy until dinner. He asks me for a blanket, curls up on the couch reminding himself, "Brady don't fall asleep" waiting for bath time. He's exhausted. I'm exhausted.
Brady feels it. I feel it. My hubby feels it. Wes definitely feels it, too. It's definitely been a doozy of a week.
By Friday we finally started to resume our groove. It was on Friday during my walk back to the car from dropping my sweetest lil' Brady off at school that I noticed Wes was wearing the OUTFIT - the one Brady was wearing the day he was diagnosed. The orange polo and blue plaid shorts. It made my heart ache to look at how little and innocent Wes is and recall that Brady was once that age. He was Wes' age when we had our lives shaken to the core. A-U-T-I-S-M. Like an earthquake, things never quite settled back to how they were before. It wasn't until I looked at the calendar today and realized that it has been EXACTLY 2 years since Brady wore that cute as a button outfit to that fateful doctor's appointment and I cried the ENTIRE way home. That's a lot of crying for someone who hardly EVER cries. I couldn't even speak to my friends. I was utterly crushed, deflated and devastated. I have never experienced debilitating hopelessness quite like that dark period of my life. It's emotional to even remember those days.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn't slightly melancholy that day and perhaps all this weekend. I feel a pang of envy again, just like I did that day two years ago. Why him? Why us? What did I do to deserve this? Why was this happening to him? Why? Why? WHY? The only difference is that back THEN, the pain was debilitating. DEBILITATING. Now, I can reflect and know it isn't happening TO US, it just happens. Crap happens (Well, you know the REAL saying. Just keeping it PG, folks).
But, then I remind myself of all of the beautiful things that have happened BECAUSE of it. Stay with me people. It's going to get all huggy rainbow unicorns up in here. But, I speak my truth.
I look at who I was pre-diagnosis. I'm much more proud of the person I am NOW.
I used to be some what self-absorbed and quite judgmental. I admit it. I judged and I judged a lot. Do I now? Sure, I think a little bit of judgment is just innately human. But, do I judge like I used to? NO. I have a lot more empathy for people these days. We are all struggling. Maybe not the same way and perhaps some are more apt at coping with their own struggles than others. I am definitely more capable of living with our struggles than I was two short years ago.
I know that life is not easy, but I do know that I have so much to be thankful for. SO MUCH. I live a fairly comfortable life. I really have no complaints. And, if I do, I try not to air them out too much (i.e. FACEBOOK) because that's just asking for sympathy and sympathy is not progress or helpful. I turn to my friends to get me grounded and back on my feet.
I feel much more connected with my husband. I think we were just kind of living the good life before our son was diagnosed. I think that it was a serious slap in the face that not only was life NOT easy, but really forced us to define who we really were and what are convictions were. I think before I was pretty convictionless (did I just create a new word? I think so). Now, I am pretty steadfast in what is important to me and what I will stand up and fight for. On the flip side of that same coin, I also know what is just not worth my time.
I think I'm also quite a better parent than I would have been without my son's diagnosis. Did I have any idea what the hell sensory play was or how important some of those development milestones were to my child's future? Um, no. I think I spent MORE time deciding what my son should wear, what diaper bag I'd carry and maybe if I should buy Pampers or Huggies. Seriously, if Brady was content (and he was extremely content), then I was doing a GA-REAT job. But, now that I know just how to be a better parent, I AM A BETTER PARENT. Not part-time, but ALL THE TIME. All who know me understand just how entirely I am committed to my kids. We are a pretty damn strong family unit.
I have found some of the very best friends to include in my support system. These friends include my virtual ones! I probably would have NEVER crossed paths with some of these people if my son hadn't received his diagnosis. Don't get me wrong - I'm never trying to FIX my son, but I try and HELP him achieve the very best and ensure he has the absolute brightest future. So, when I say I probably wouldn't have crossed paths with these fabulous friends, I wouldn't have if I wasn't searching out all of these resources. But, what has resulted is this beautiful web of confidants that I rely on for not only information, but emotional elevations in ways most people could not provide unless you walked the same path.
I know that Wes will be a better person for it. He knows nothing other than acceptance and kindness. He will only know compassion and understanding. He doesn't see that Brady is different and he idolizes him in ways a little brother should. He won't have the TYPICAL sibling bond, but perhaps it'll be stronger because we all fight for Brady and cheer him on. His goals are ours and we work WITH and along side him, which has made us all stronger.
I feel much more clear on where my life is headed and feel in possession of a very concrete purpose. Clarity is such a gift. I'm a helper and I've tried to help anyone who needs it. I don't need to be a leader. I don't need to be the planner. I don't need to be the coordinator. I just want to help, which some times is the more important role. If you need information that I have? You go it! Need advice I can lend? You go it! Need a book I have? You go it! Need to know it will all be okay? You go it! I now know I am a helper in every capacity of my life. And, I'm happy with that role.
Is having a child with Autism fun? Um, no. Let me repeat, it is not. Not at all. Is it challenging? Did it affect my marriage? Yes, in fact it sucked really bad at times (the challenges, not my marriage). But, it is also rewarding in ways that you could not even imagine. To have your autistic child accomplish something that you thought he'd never do is something like experiencing a miracle. Ever witness someone throw a dance party because their kid tried a new food? Call your husband in the middle of the store because he answered a question spontaneously!? Welcome to Autismland, where parties are ragers and wine flows! To have your child do something you were told probably wouldn't or couldn't happen is great. Especially when you can stick your tongue out and tell someone to suck it. Well, that last part may all occur in my head, but it's pretty gratifying even if it's just fantasy.
People...what I do know for sure is that I'm going to have sucky weeks like this last one. But, doesn't everyone? That's life. I'm just so thankful for all of the things that are so great, knowing that some times it's going to be a little rough and uncomfortable. Well, I may be wrong, but heck, that's what gets me through the rough patches ;0) So, people, listen here, because this is quite important...if you have a sucky week, try to put your life in perspective. The things that are challenging are not fun, but don't lose your shizz over it. These same challenging circumstances may be making you the BETTER person you want to be. Just breathe. Or drink wine. Works for me!