Some things along this journey still surprise me. Like when people ask me “where do you hide your cape?”
I usually smile back and make a comment about how under the surface I am one meltdown away from completely losing my mind. I tell them that all parents are superheroes and that in some small way we all have secret magical capes.
But the truth is that there is no cape. There is just a mom. A mom who loves her children fiercely.
A mom on a journey that she does not understand. A mom fighting like hell to be enough. A mom trying to balance a career and a family and a home. A mom chosen for a life that scares her sometimes. A mom that others see smiling through the pain. A mom silently crying in the shower. A mom tired and worn down. A mom digging into every last reserve to take one more step forward. A mom desperately trying to outrun fear and hopelessness. To find balance. To try harder. To be better.
There is no cape. No magical powers. No man behind the curtain. Just a mom with a whole lot of love in her hear.
When my son was diagnosed with autism at ago two everything that I thought I knew about life changed. I boxed up all of the certainty and predictability and stored it away on a shelf. From that moment forward I was an autism mom. A parent to a child with a special need. Just another cape-less parent crusader on my own doing the best I could do.
And despite my silent prayers and relentless wishing; there was nothing to guide me along the way. No map. No rule book. No one to whisper in my ear and give me all of the answers.
So I am figuring it out as I go. And it is really hard. So much harder than I ever imagined it would be. And each day it is hard in new ways.
It is surrendering every ounce of control. It is watching your child struggle with things that are easy for other children. It is isolating and lonely. It is saying goodbye to the life you thought you would live. It is learning to embrace the new life. It is more patience than you have to give. More deep breaths than you care to give. It is digging in and doing the work. It is loving another person with everything inside of you. It is allowing that love to push you forward. It is watching that love catch fire. It is allowing yourself to be the flame. It is learning to be the fire.
It is somehow all of your worst fears and all of your most precious dreams at the same time.
Oh how I wish there was a magical cape. A beacon of hope. A symbol of strength.
At the first sign of a meltdown I would reach for my cape, tie it tightly around my neck and charge ahead with certainty and exuberance. During my son’s routine middle of the night episodes I would lie next to him in my cape and magically lure him into a deep sleep. At the park I would call on the powers of my magical cape to send my son a surge of age-appropriate communication and social prowess. My magical cape would work its magical powers to bring my magical wishes to life.
But you see, the things I seek are not magical things. I do not wish to fly. I do not long for the power to be invisible. I do not need to save the world.
Instead of magic and wonder, I wish for calm. I wish for sleep. I wish for speech.
And, as a child I never could have predicted those to be my 3 wishes. But then again their are a lot of things about my life that I did not predict.
And here I am. Navigating this journey with no magical cape. No glowing lantern to wish upon. So I had to find my own magic.
Parenting a child with autism is hard. For a million different reasons. But the love is so much bigger than the hard every will be. The love is stronger and more steadfast than any fear that fills my head.
When autism barges in and creates a hole in our life; love fills it. When hard work and perseverance are not enough; love finishes it. When we reach the end of our patience and strength; love gives us more.
Love is not perfect, but nothing ever is. The love is enough. It is more than enough. And the love reminds me every single day that I am enough too. I am enough to wake up every day and walk this journey. No magic cape, no super powers. Just a mom. And a whole lot of love.