I know you are trying to do ten things at once....making sure you have the consistent staples in the kitchen (insert whatever carb your child will ONLY eat!), making sure to cut those tags outof the clothes before someone becomes unglued, picking up the meticulously placed line of Thomas the Tank Engines off the floor, oh and don't forget to order another copy of, "Finding Nemo" on Amazon because the last one you purchased (was that the third or fourth?) has worn down where your child keeps pushing rewind.
Sometimes you feel like your in that movie, "Groundhogs Day" where you keep living the same day over and over. Consistency and routine are the spice of life for a family that loves a member with Autism. Your days consist of making sure that the iPad is charged and you never, ever run out of whatever food your child eats morning, noon, and night. And in the sweet space of an evening, when your little one has stemmed themselves into submission and is peacefully sleeping, do you ever look at that face and think of all the wishes and dreams you have for them? Maybe one day that little face will turn to you when you're talking and look you in the eyes and respond to a question. Maybe one day you won't have to go all undercover ninja and cut your child's hair while they are sleeping, praying they don't feel the hair falling and tickling their nose and wake up. Maybe one day they will eat something other than grilled cheese at 11:30 am. On the dot. No exceptions.
Do you wonder how many different ways they will show you they love you today without saying the words? You are the superhero of your child's comic strip, the peanut butter to their chocolate, the Shaggy to their Scooby. You are the one they are looking to make sense of all the pictures they are trying to sequence minute to minute to get through the day. And, in case no one has told you today, your rocking this parenting thing.
I get that you're tired. I get that you may have been up all night. I get that you kinda feel like your reflexes are working at 30% most days because of lack of sleep. Your the only one who knows to repeat their favorite Sponge Bob line to them when their anxiety is through the roof and make it all better. Your the only one who know's when they say, "I want to vacuum up the words!" They are actually trying to tell someone to be quiet. You know them better than anyone. With all the dreams you have for your child just waiting to break the surface my wish for you is that you are gentle with yourself and that you can get glimpses of who you are through your child's eyes. Because who you are is amazing.
There was no manual for parenthood, and dear God there was no, "Parenting an Exceptional Child for Dummies" book the last time I looked. But we are all in this crazy childhood together, fighting every IEP and 504 Plan battle while holding back tears, and laughing through those tears as we watch our child's face gloss over with pure bliss, feeling utterly weightless as they are swimming.
This isn't where we thought we would be, this isn't the life we envisioned as we gently rubbed that blossoming bump in our bellies and sang songs and read to the little alien who decided that 2 am was the perfect time to practice their gymnastic skills in our womb.
It's like the famous poem, "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley. We packed our bags and prepared for a trip to Italy, learning the language and setting our sites on all the places we would go. But we land and we are in Holland, not Italy, and we aren't leaving. So we prepare ourselves for our stay in Holland, loving the newness and beauty of it, but still stopping every once in awhile to mourn our trip to Italy. Pretty soon we are so in love with Holland and all it encompasses that we cannot imagine our lives anywhere else and we settle in. We adjust our expectations of what we thought life would be like to what we want life to be like with our reality. And we set off, hand in hand with our little co-pilots, to become brave explorers of this new world together and prepare ourselves to be ok with being uncomfortable while we navigate this big, new world with all the love, kindness, and compassion we can muster in our hearts.