Parenting and perspective
Earlier this year I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in many, many years. We were catching each other up on our lives, our families, and what we'd been up to all that time. The subject of my daughter's medical & developmental issues came up. She was asking questions and I was answering, trying to paint a picture of the complexities of Amelia's world. And then she said something strange: "It's so tragic."
It's probably not strange, really, but was strange for me to hear. Anybody who has ever met Amelia knows she's a happy kid. Even strangers can't resist her contagious giggle. Put her in a on a beach or in a swimming pool, and she is purest joy, personified.
Sure, there are bad days, and more often, bad nights. I've complained about them here on occasion. But there's no sense of loss, of grieving. There are plenty of tragic stories out there, but ours is not one of them.
I don't fault my friend for thinking what she did. It's probably pretty common for those who haven't been around kids like Amelia very much. For us, she's just another kid; another family member; another person to share the love. We deal with the challenges of an autistic kid the same way we deal with the challenges of our other kids. We struggle, we whine, we adapt, we fail, and succeed, we laugh and cry, and we keep going.
All of this is really just to reinforce Sharon Astyk's great post from today:
Asked, most of these parents probably would have said they could not handle a child with autism. I suspect I would have as well. And yet, when a child with autism came their way, they were not only able to “handle” it, but to make a life of joy and beauty, and moments of pure happiness and celebration out of that reality. It can happen to all of us - and almost all of us manage, not just to survive, but to find new ways to be happy and grateful and feel that they got lucky.
(All this after a vacation which was most certainly not made easier by the presence of our pint-sized, mess-making insomniac. )