This is the continuation of a post I first published in 2016 that you can read here.
Parents of autistic children are my heroes.
This is your reminder that you are a great parent. A little reminder that you’re worth it – that being overwhelmed means nothing other than you’re giving it your all and need some lovin’ too. Believe me, it doesn’t say anything negative about you, or your ability to parent your child. You’re doing just fine. To all the moms and dads out there trying their hardest for their kids, autistic or not, you are amazing, and I see you.
I see you trying to juggle work, drop-offs, pickups, and doctor appointments.
I see you trying your hardest to understand your child’s needs despite his lack of verbal communication.
I see you searching tirelessly for tips and tricks online to teach a nonverbal child sign language or AAC.
I see you jumping for joy at the smallest gain from your child. And I also understand the bittersweetness of these celebrations that you never expected to be notable events.
I see you trying to re-adjust your expectations while still keeping that glimmer of hope going in your soul.
I see you trying to resists the urge to compare yourself to other parents.
And at the end of the day, I see you hiding your head in your hands to prevent people from seeing your tears.
But above all, what I see is the love in your eyes when you look at your child. I see it. Believe me when I say that I know how hard it is when people around you don’t “get it.” I know it’s hard when you see your parent-friends doing all of these things you imagined doing with your own child. And I know, too, that you feel guilt for the grief you feel toward your child’s disability.
I know you wonder sometimes if maybe these internet strangers are right, if maybe you’re indeed a “martyr parent,” because truly you do sometimes struggle to see the light at the of the tunnel. I know that sometimes, no matter how hard you try to focus on the positive, you can’t. You can’t because your heart is filled with worry and uncertainty. You worry that your child will never grow up to live an independent life. You feel defeated for not being able to help him despite all the time and energy you spend trying. And you wonder, wonder if he’s happy. If he loves you. If he sees you at all.
So this is your reminder that your feelings don’t make you a bad parent, they make you human. A reminder that no matter how strong you are, you too are allowed to crumble under the pressure of the unplanned life you were given. This is your reminder that you’re not alone out there, never-ever, at all.