Not very many people can say that their children are their heroes. I was fortunate enough to give birth to both of my heroes. No superstar, sports star, or any kind of star can even come close to giving my heroes a run for the money. My heroes have molded me into the person I am today. Since I gave birth to my heroes they have taught me many things every day. It by no means has been an easy lesson but I would like to share a few things that I have learned since being an autism mom.
1.The true meaning of love. Any one can say they love you. However, its the act behind the words that count. There is an indescribable feeling that you feel when you want to help the ones you love. I thought I knew what love was until I laid eyes on my boys. Then, I really knew and understood the meaning of love when their disabilities took over our lives. My life focus was my children and what I could do to love them and make their life better.
2. There is no such word as selfish. Raising two boys with autism does not allow me to ever think about what I want. The focus is always them. Before my boys I was an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, I enjoyed watching T.V, I enjoyed exercising, I loved to travel and relax. I am none of those anymore. Would it be nice? Yes I suppose but its not what I want. I want a successful life for my boys. In order to provide them that, I have had to forget about my wants and spend every minute on their needs.
3. A good nights sleep is something to never take for granted again. I can't remember the last time I slept for four hours consecutive. Both of my boys have sleeping issues and they can't help it. I will never take for granted the pleasure of sleep!
4. I am a member of an elite club! Their is a special bond with every autism mother. It doesn't matter where I am, if I get the pleasure of running into another autism mom, it's as if we have known each other for years. There is no holding back information. We talk about everything from poop smears to our children running up to complete strangers and rubbing a woman's legs because they are freshly shaved. We talk about the times our children run up to strangers tables at a restaurant or park and drink out of their drinks. We talk about the tears we have shed and how its destroyed our marriage. In reality, we aren't strangers. After all, we are members of an elite club.
5. I have learned how to fight and advocate for my children. After all, I am raising a child who can't voice what he wants. He can't tell the world how he suffers every day. No one will, except for his parents and loved ones. I have heard multiple times since being on my journey how people thought autism was just the inability of being able to communicate. WOW! How wrong is that?!? There is soooo much more. Who is going to educate people on that? No one will. You have to fight for your child! You have to educate others on your child's disability. Every child on the spectrum is completely different. In a sense, each child has their own unique disability. Who will be their voice if they don't have one? YOU!
6. I have learned what the true meaning of friendship and family is. My family wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for our family and friends. Unfortunately, raising children with autism requires more than just the parents. Temple Grandin's mother said, "It takes a village to raise a child with autism." No words spoken were ever so true.
7. Therapist, teachers, and coaches become your family. I have worked with several therapist and coaches now for three years! I can't believe it has been that long. However, where would I be if it wasn't for all of them? I have the utmost respect for each and every one of them that work with my boys daily. I am forever indebted to them and what they have accomplished with my boys. In my eyes, you are my adopted family and I love each and every one of them!
8. I know how to be "mentally tough". It's hard but I have to be mentally tough everyday. There is no time to "slack off" even if my body needs it. I know how to turn my game face on in the hardest of situations.
9. I learned to not give myself a choice. I have heard various times from individuals, " I don't know how you do it." Well, I give myself no choice. I don't choose between A or B. If B is what needs to be done, then I do it. Sure, my body needs a lot more sleep. Heck yeah, I am exhausted and beat up at the end of the day but I keep going because I have no choice. It's my children....there is no choice!
10. I've learned to hide my pain. I do believe that times heals all wounds in most circumstances. Some wounds take a much longer time to heal. But does the wound heal when the wound is always open? I'm not sure. The pain of autism is always there and it never goes away. So how do you heal? How do you deal with your pain? You have two choices. You can either hate the world and everything that your life has been given or you can appreciate what your life is, smile and love, and hide your pain.
11. Children with disabilities are angels indisguise. They are sent here to make us better people. Its our choice on how we respond to them.