My Head Said “Autism”, My Heart said “No”

Along my parenting journey I have gone up against so many moments feeling completely unequipped. The parenting gig is not for the faint of heart. It is a job that is equal parts wonderful and terrifying. It is a responsibility that should be treasured.

The very first moment we stepped out of the hospital with our baby boy I was completely terrified. Were these doctors insane? I could not believe that they just let us walk out of the hospital. They trusted us to raise this child. To feed him. To bathe him. To care for him. To protect him. This task seemed thrilling; and daunting.

You find your super-human-parent-powers from somewhere inside of you that you did not know existed before you had children. They come to you in a moment of need. They give you the energy you need to overcome the exhaustion. The patience you need to overcome the moments you were not prepared for. The love you need to remember that every single crazy second of the journey is so completely worth it. The parenting powers become a part of your identity. You are no longer just a person; you are a mom. A super mom.

Along the way you figure out how to do the parenting thing. Parenthood washes over you in a way that makes you feel as if you have always been doing it.  But, just when you think you have mastered something, life throws you a curve ball. Life is funny that way, ever-eager to keep you on your toes. Pushing you to be better. Stronger. More.

Some of the curve balls roll off of you with ease. Others test you. They push you to your limits. They ask you to be more than you ever dreamed you would need to be. Those become the moments that define your parenthood.

I did not see the autism curve ball coming. Not even a little. My head and my heart worked in opposition to protect me from the reality of our situation. My head said “autism”, but my heart said “no”. And there was just enough uncertainty in the space between the two to keep me safe. To keep me hopeful.

And because my heart could not hear what head had to say, I existed in the space for a long time. I held onto my hopeful heart. I held on until the moment I heard the doctors say out loud the words that I could not; “your son has autism spectrum disorder.”

My heart ached over the loss. The loss of hope. The loss of things that I did not even understand at the time. My head ached too. Filled with information that it did not know how to process. Thankful for an answer, but at a loss for what to do with it. My head and my heart were no longer in opposition, they were both overcome with loss.

I lived in that loss for a long time. I let it come over me in ways that I did not expect. I turned to my super-human-parent-powers, but they too were at a loss. I was not ready to be super-human, being human was all that I could muster.

My powers came back to me slowly. I grew just a little bit stronger with each passing day. In the end it was my love for my son that pulled me back. The passionate fighter inside of me ready to take on whatever lay in my son’s path. I needed to teach my son how to find his own super-human powers. To teach him to be brave. To teach him to endure. To be strong. To fight. To love. To hope. He would need all of those things along his journey. And somehow helping him prepare for his journey helped me to travel further down my own journey.

Some people do not understand why I call our son’s diagnosis “our diagnosis”. I understand how this may not make sense to you. If you have not walked this path then I imagine it would be difficult to understand.

This is our journey. We travel it together. We live through every up and down together. We cry together. We laugh together. We celebrate our wins together. And together we mourn our losses. This is our son’s diagnosis. And, because of our commitment to travel this journey with him; it is our diagnosis too.

To all of you super-human-parents our there; wow. Just wow. It has not been easy. Parenting is the most terrifyingly wonderful experience in this world. It is the most perfect form of chaos. Luckily, managing chaos is on of our powers.

Remember to be in awe of yourself from time to time. I have a feeling you deserve it. I have a feeling we all deserve it.

JS

 

 

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