I know, Mama, I know

By LORI FOREMAN

April is Autism Awareness Month and in our family, we Light It Up Blue big time. My son was 3 the first time we heard the doctor say the word autism. I could write for days about the awesomeness and amazing abilities of kids on the autism spectrum, especially mine. We have found that the best parts of him – the funny, smart, witty, interesting parts – are linked directly to his diagnosis. I could tell about how we wouldn’t trade it because it makes him who he is and we love who he is. I could go on and on. But instead, I want to talk to the mothers.

It has been my experience that the worst thing to be in any situation is alone. One of the loneliest moments of my life was when we got Jack’s diagnosis. I don’t know that there’s any way to feel in that moment other than alone and overwhelmed. But over the years, I’ve looked around and I’ve seen this group of parents – especially this group of mothers – that are walking this road and looking like rock stars while they do it.

And I just want to say to them: You aren’t the only one. I know that road. I know it. I know it’s no leisurely stroll. I know it’s an uphill battle most days.

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I know what it is to try everything and still not know what that one thing is that would make your baby be able to relax because you don’t know what that one thing was that upset him in the first place.

I know why you put your sunglasses on in McDonalds because you are on your 15th meltdown of the day and you just can’t deal with another one while looking someone in the eye.

I know the frustration of watching your child work so hard to do the things that come naturally to every other child around him. And I know the slight shame on the days when that frustration turns into anger.

I know the desperate prayers for friends that will choose him with all his quirks and eccentricities when you send him to school for the first time. And I know the sick feeling in your stomach when he comes home for the first time and says that another kid called him a retard. And Heaven Himself knows how it takes the strength of God Almighty for you to hold your peace on that day.

I know the tension of going to a new place for the first time with the millions of different potentials for disaster and melt down. I also know how that first deep breath feels when you get in the car to go home because it’s the first time you’ve been able to relax for hours.

I know the rage you feel when yet another helpful adult tells you that she could take care of those behaviors with a good old-fashioned spanking.   And I know those quiet moments alone when you think how nice it would be if a swift pop on the bottom really could fix it all.

I know the sadness of watching a daddy surrender his dreams of t-ball games and football Saturdays with his son.

And I know the agony of watching your baby try and try again and still not be able to get that new task down. I know how much you just want to do it for him.

I know, Mama. A lot of us know. You aren’t the only one. But, I know the other side too.

I know what it’s like to watch him work so very hard to get that new thing and finally get it. I know that feeling of pride that you don’t get if everything is easy.

I know the amazement when he blows you away with this ability that he has that nobody else has and that he casually shares with you like it’s nothing.

I know that feeling of pure joy when he finds that thing that makes him belly laugh. I know the gratefulness that God chose you to be the one that gets to be a part of that with him.

I know the privilege of being the insider with him – of being the one who gets him. And I know that it’s those moments that make all the other ones so very worth it.

Colossians 1: 10-12 says, “We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” (The Message)

With everything in me, I believe my child and yours can live the bright and beautiful life God has for them. And we get to be a part of that and it is an honor we would never trade. But it’s not easy and those magic moments when one more tiny piece of the puzzle comes together are spread out among a lot of hard and tireless work. I know the truth of that. I do.

So, in those in between times when you are exhausted and frustrated and sad and desperate for a good day, just look around you. Because we are all right there with you. Praying goodness and mercy over you; cheering wildly in your corner; bringing you a much needed coffee on the bad days; and gluten free frozen chicken nuggets and a glass of chilled wine on the really bad days. We are right there. You aren’t alone in this.

I see you, Mama. I see that path that you are plowing down for your child with your prayers, your tears, your tireless efforts, your constant education and study, and, in those instances when all else fails, with nothing but the sheer force of your will. I see your love in motion. And it is as just as bright and beautiful as your perfectly created baby.

I see you, Mama. And I think you’re awesome.

Lori Sansom Foreman is a wife, mother, and a social worker. She blogs at https://loriforeman.wordpress.com.

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