My daughter with autism turns 15 years old today. And I find myself wondering, where did the time go?
When I think back, I realize all the stages of grief I went through and sometimes am still experiencing. It was extremely ugly in the beginning. I was scared and overwhelmed. Life had just dealt me a big blow and I was completely unprepared for it. I yearned for something I lost. My heart missed the typically developing child that one day took a bad turn for the worse and regressed into autism.
I was jealous of others, intimidated by this disorder and very frightened of the unknown because I was dealing with a child that didn’t sleep, couldn’t be potty-trained, was spinning and flapping non-stop and had lost all language.
I needed to step up. I needed to be the mother she needed me to be. I didn’t have a choice. I had to grow up. There was so much for me to learn. The last 13 years of this journey taught me many things and today, on my daughter’s 15th birthday, I celebrate not only how much she has grown but how much I have grown because of her.
I would love to share these lessons with you.
Anger, sadness and self-pity were things I had to let go of in order for my child to heal. That was a hard one. It is my firm belief that our ASD kids are extremely in tune to our energy. They can feel it when we are frazzled and it feeds their unorganized energy.
Fear only feeds more fear and insecurity. As scary as it is, letting go of the fear was really important. Even if you can only get through TODAY… or the next five minutes… learn to live in the moment. This will help the fear fade and also help guide us to our next steps, which leads me to the next lesson.
Pay close attention to the universe and what it is trying to tell you. Mother’s intuition is nothing short of remarkable. You really DO know how to handle this. If you let go of the fear and follow your intuition, you will be guided.
If I wanted to heal my child, I had to do the legwork. Clearly no doctor was going to hold my hand through this process. I stayed up late reading the newest research. I learned how to read pub med studies. I had to find a way to change my child’s diet come hell or high water. It was solely up to ME.
Although getting great doctors on board was important to us, doctors are to be used as a resource. They don’t have all the answers but they offer guidance and their testing can hold clues. We need to sit quietly with these clues and see where they are leading us.
I surrounded myself with people who believed in my child and me. They are my tribe. I let go of people who doubted her ability to get better. I journaled all her successes. Even the smallest victory called for celebration. I took any reason to smile and praise her and ran with it.
Lastly, I think my greatest lesson has been to learn to sit quietly and think. I consider it meditation although I could be much better at it. Meditation can help you clear your mind and sometimes your greatest revelations come to you after a time of clarity.
So happy birthday to my sweet Marley. Fifteen years have come and gone quickly but those years have been some of the most important in my life. She is my first born child and gave me the gift of motherhood. I never imagined it would be so challenging but the joy I can finally see in her eyes has been worth every last minute of struggle. I wish the same for all other special needs parents.