Years ago our church gave kids a Grateful Tree for the Thanksgiving season. They dutifully complied but I loved it – still do. Here’s my leaves on the tree.
Today, first and foremost, I’m grateful for my family. My kids, because they shaped me. The hubby, for all his many kindnesses and partnership on the journey. My mother, for tolerating my stream of consciousness brain dumps that make me feel like someone cares. My brothers and sister, for unconditional love.
Their little shows of love are what I cherish the most. How Will really wants to be around me. How Jeff allows me to put ointment on a rash with such acceptance. The nights the hub takes the boys up to bed because I’m busy or tired.
Autism sucks often, but those moments of pure love – would it have been the same, and would I have cherish it, if I was a Normal Mom? whatever that is.
Making lemon out of lemonade – cutting your own path – defining your own rules. Call it what you will, but we special needs parents are amazing at living creatively by carving our own pumpkin, so to speak. We know it’s up to us to make our own rules as best suit our kids. On some days it’s a challenge, but mainly it’s a gift.
Halloween last night brought a few special needs kids to our door, including one where the parents have broken just about every state agency dictum about programming, housing and structuring life for their post-22 year old – and made it work. As always he had a clever costume and boundless enthusiasm for candy, by the fistful. We laughed at memories of our own guys doing this to my chagrin.
Until he arrived I’d held back from taking the boys trick or treating last night. I really wanted to go, for me, for this seasonal ritual where I get to be a parent with pride at my guys and this opportunity to practiced structured conversation and behavior in a ritual that tolerates all. In that they kept answering my 2-option questions that they didn’t want to go, we watched the clock roll til 6:15 and still hadn’t donned costumes.
But after seeing this young man and his dad – Jeff started answering “yes” to trick-or-treating. And so we went, and it was exactly right. While I was still surprised at how much language-prompting I had to do, they behaved well – no bolts into people’s houses to eat their dinner as Will did last year – and Jeff truly seemed to enjoy it.
We may be the oldest trick-or-treaters on the planet, but I was so glad we went. My guys belong. That’s huge to me. They belong here in this neighborhood. They belong in a world with many degrees of completeness of development, sensory issues and peculiarities. They belong in a job landscape where the world needs ‘Helpers’ of all sorts, and my guys clearly help.
Here’s to Sunday church on this rainy non-hiking day, to a yard’s worth of to-do list items, and that beeping alarm on my phone charging downstairs telling me I’m way overdue for whatever. Here’s to the rest of the day made bright by my knowledge – if no one else’s – that it is our creativity that will see us through to wherever adult living takes us.