Special needs mama, you’re on a different path . . . and it’s okay.
Sometimes you don’t even notice it anymore—the difference—the sometimes loneliness of your path. Because most days it’s a beautiful walk. But then, there are days and times that sting.
Going to a baseball game for your friends’ children who are the same age as your autistic son. An image flashing in your mind of all the boys as babies playing together . . . they were all the same then. The baseball boys are grown now—mature, little guys, and your son—he seems so childlike still.
A knot in your stomach when you attend the fourth-grade recorder concert. Can he do it? The relief you feel when it goes okay.
Seeing his younger siblings navigate the world with so much more ease.
The times you are faced with a decision. Should he attend middle school? Or do we, yet again, forge a new path? Something different, untraditional, unknown . . . and the path becomes scary again. The questions begin, “Am I doing the right thing?” That’s all we want as moms, isn’t it? To do the right thing for our kids.
In these moments I feel guilty that I can’t talk about my son without including his diagnosis. Guilty that sometimes I get tired of this walk—it’s tiring. It’s hard to make unconventional life choices, it’s hard to walk a path that isn’t paved. It’s lonely to see friends walking a path different than ours. It gets so lonely.
In these moments, I remember the gentle heart I’m protecting. The heart that—after a horrendous birth—quieted the room when he approached my face in silence, opening his mouth quietly without a sound and assuring me we were okay.
The toddler who walked around on his alphabet rug when the preschool psychologist came to tell me of his autism diagnosis. I cried because I was scared. I felt him behind us, his tiny hands on our shoulders, pushing the three of us together in a hug. The elementary student who has captured the heart of every teacher and para in our district. The beautiful heart, that despite so many challenges, remains pure and true and golden.
Then, I remember our path is simply different. It’s unpaved. It’s the path many people don’t know about it. If I slow down, I see it’s beautiful. Just like hikes that are challenging, they sometimes bring us to the most beautiful untouched places. I see my son like that.
We will walk our path, and we will be okay. You will walk your path and it will be okay. I’m rooting for you.