To Be A Parent
Posted January 9, 2011on:
When we hold that bright, beautiful, newborn in our arms… There is no greater joy, it’s a joy that we all share. The birth of a child is something that most parents are overwhelmingly elated over. We go through the ups and downs of diaper changes, diaper rash, immunizations, spit up, and a multitude of other things that any parent goes through.
But then comes the devastation. You realize something is wrong… Your child is not normal. Nicky was advanced when he was a baby. He held his head up faster. He rolled over faster. But then something happened after he choked on a Wheat Thin. (Which was probably just a marker for a texture issue). He began to go backwards, his slight chatter grew to become more garbled, more gibberish like. He quit advancing, and he wouldn’t acknowledge me.
I went through a long spell of blaming myself, trying to figure out what I had done. But I got over it.
Most parents don’t understand what we go through, unless they are dealing with special needs themselves and autism is unique. I remember what it was like when Nicky first was smiling, it was almost as if it were difficult for him. But it melted my heart.
I live in the constant fear of him regressing, I was warned it could happen and it has happened. It’s what snaps me awake, reminding me that I have to handle my child with care. He can progress, but he can regress, and he has regressed, and he’s progressed. It’s a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, emotional roller coaster, but I wouldn’t trade my son for the “perfect” child.
I want people to understand and be less ignorant and more tolerant. Because it isn’t easy. We hurt when our children hurt. The pain we feel when our children are bullied, overlooked, and misunderstood is extensive. Having something wonderful we’ve planned go wrong, because our child gets sensory overload, hurts.
But there is another side.
“I love you, Mom.” Four words could never mean so much as those do. I believe they mean a world and a day when you have a normal child. Of course they do. But when you deal with the detachment that can come along with autism, when you can get that connection with your child, you celebrate. My son loves me. He doesn’t care if I’m having a bad hair day. He doesn’t care how much I give him or don’t give him. He loves me and accepts me unconditionally. He hugs me, he kisses me, he still loves when I sing him silly little songs. I can’t beat that, nor would I want to. I have a special connection with my son that a lot of parents miss out on. Even when he’s spitting mad at me, I know I have his love. I don’t have to try and win him over. He doesn’t care about my political leaning, he doesn’t care even if I am on the computer as long as I answer him when he talks. I love him and he loves me. To be loved by my child is probably my greatest human achievement. Even if I published a great work of fiction and made millions, that would not even come close to the love of my child. There’s a lot a person can accomplish in life, but to obtain unconditional love is something that needs to be treasured. I see so many parents who almost resent their children for their disabilities, as if it was the child’s fault (especially in this area), and it breaks my heart. They want what-might-have-been rather than loving the child for who they are.
My child has Autism. My child isn’t Autism. He’s Nicky. He’s funny, sweet, and helpful. He isn’t his disability any more than I am mine. I would never want me to be defined by what I might-have-been, I want to be defined by who I am. I want to be liked because I am kind, because I am funny, because I have the ability to make another person smile. My child deserves the same. I love him for who he is. I wouldn’t change him.
God didn’t curse me with a child who developed Autism. God blessed me with a beautiful boy and thought I was up for a challenge.
As an added statement, I want to say that I discovered a whole new community on Twitter and now, I’ve been able to discuss Autism with other parents who are likeminded, who love their children as much as I love Nicky. Thank you, Tweet friends.