Thursday, December 22, 2011

Joy Joy Joy Joy Down in my Heart

My internet friend wrote about the Top Ten Joys of Parenting an Autistic Child and when I saw the tweet about it, I thought, blech, I couldn't come up with ten.  I thought it figures.  She can't stop at just ten and I can't think of ONE!  Bah, humbug, poor me!, I thought.  Then I read her list and I thought, oh.  Oh, I can think of ten and probably more!  The devil is really in the details for me, because if I think about my life, our lives, in terms of minutes and hours I want to jump out the window, but if I think of it in the big picture, it's always better.

So.  Drumroll, please.

  1. I feel like I have a bottomless well of love for Anthony, in a way that I don't for the other kids.  I do not love him more and he is not my favorite, I think that's a ridiculous claim to make, but I feel such patience for him.  I feel like I can do anything for him, really anything, even, like, superpower stuff.  It would be EXTREMELY handy if I had such patience for other kids (cough, MARIA, cough), but I don't.  I think my children get what they need from me, each of them, and Anthony needs a lot and gets a lot, because magically I HAVE a lot for him and I get true joy from that.  
  2. I have met some great people through our short journey in Autismville.  I know why I love Anthony but it's a true gift to realize that even people who are not his mother or related to him in any way love him too.  
  3. I get joy from having Anthony, period.  I am so, so proud of him and what he can accomplish.  I was talking with his therapist the other day about his work on his volume.  He has been talking but so quietly, and they've been specifically working on his volume and she said yesterday she didn't have to ask him to repeat one thing.  They've been working on it for such a short time and he's just doing it!  He is a very tenacious person, as his ped told me when he was two months old and could scream for six hours straight, and it is finally paying off.  
  4. It really touches me when Anthony pays attention to his  family, especially his sisters and especially the baby.  I know that in many ways, he doesn't care that someone is here, or saying hi to him, or lying around in a swing looking super cute.  So when he is able to notice and smile, I assume it's because he has so much love in his heart for his family that it beats up his sensory issues or whatever else is holding him back and I just - I mean, how could you not find joy in the fact that love conquers all?  
  5. I get joy from seeing Anthony's family love him so much, especially Maria and Veronica.  As I've said, Maria is just starting to notice that Anthony doesn't act like boys, say, at her school, but she doesn't seem to care too much and for that I am grateful.  Veronica just thinks Anthony is great and it's a great sight to see.  When they are all three in the bath together, and being good (which NEVER happens, hardly), they are joy personified.
  6. I sometimes complain that although we've been parents for almost seven years, Mike and I only go to four years, as far as parenting a typical child.  I find myself surprised at how little I know, or how shocked I am when Maria does something that I consider to be very advanced.  It turns out maybe it's NOT so advanced, it's just typical for a four year old or something, but it's exciting.  Maybe it wouldn't be so exciting if I had been through it before, or maybe I'd be freaked out if she wasn't doing something that I expected her to.  Autism and Anthony have taught me to appreciate any and all advancement, whether it's on time or not.  
  7. I think one way to find joy in one's life is to find out what your vocation is and do it.  I am CONSTANTLY complaining about being a stay at home mother, as you may have noticed, and I hate it in a lot of ways.  But I have absolutely no doubt that I am right where I should be as far as being Anthony's mother.  I feel like I was built for it, like I've been preparing for it my whole life.  
  8. Anthony makes me want to be a healthy person and live forever.  I don't know what the future holds for any of us, but chances are good we will take care of Anthony in a different way than we will the other kids.  I want to live forever so I can take care of him forever.  
  9. Watching Mike be Anthony's father brings me joy.  If I ever had any doubt about him, and I never have, they would be erased immediately upon seeing Mike with Anthony.  I read a lot about dads who have a hard time with their son's autism, to the point that they LEAVE their family.  It's so the opposite for us, it's hard to believe.  It's hard to believe what a wonderful father he is, but I can see it every single day. 
  10. Um...I guess I can't think of ten.  KIDDING!  My family and my friends have been great my whole life, but especially since we got Anthony's diagnosis.  So many people sent me messages or called me or told my parents to tell me some great story about an experience they had with a person with autism.  It means so, so much to me that my people care so much about Anthony, about all of us.  We moved away from our extended family a long time ago, which stinks because we grew up around each other and were pretty close.  But it's amazing to me how kind people have been and how miles between us seem like nothing when someone has something encouraging to say.  
  11. When Anthony is sad, I am sad.  I always sing to them when they are babies,
    I want to be happy,
    but I can't be happy,
    'til I make you happy, too!
    and it SUCKS because when they are babies they are always screaming in my face so I find it hard to be happy, as I said in my SONG!  When Anthony cries at night, or has a tantrum, it rips my heart to pieces, I feel it physically.  But when he's happy, I feel that too.  I feel it physically and it makes every single minute worth it, MORE than worth it.  It makes me glad to be alive in a way that I wouldn't know otherwise.  


Stimey said...

You made me cry. Beautiful.

Eileen LaBell-Kehoe said...

You are an awesome mom and you have wonderful children. We are kehoes we step up to what is put in front of us and just become stronger and you are proof of that

Hannah said...

Love this. Thank you for sharing sweet Anthony with all of us.

Stacey White said...

I am positive that is the most beautifully written sentiment I've ever read about a mother and her child... Well done :)

Ann E Kehoe said...

You brought tears to my eyes.My first thought after reading Cutest Baby Ever, you and Mike are super-human parents. Love, Aunt Ann