He’s 5. He has brought me more smiles than I ever could have imagined. Entered our world from across an ocean. I’ve changed nearly every parenting tactic I had with our older three and have been reminded that even if you’ve been a parent for years, every child is different.
I’ve learned to follow my gut as a mom, even when it’s often not very popular.
He lays on the ground and spins the wheels of a car, over and over and over and over. “Eeee! Eeee! Eeee!” His voice inflection is loud and high.
He recites a Curious George adventure he knows by heart, only half understandable to me and scarcely understandable to someone who hasn’t seen the clip 1,153 times.
I serve his pancake, and he yells to me, “Mom! Romania!” I look down. Oddly, yes: his pancake is shaped like Romania.
It’s 6:00 am. He’s up, and I urge him to climb in bed next to me so I can keep track of him. I fool myself into thinking I can get a few extra winks of sleep. Instead, he crawls in with me and brings his US President placemat. He starts to sing: “Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison…” He finishes all 44, then starts again.
I was struck with a question the other day.
If I had a choice, would I wish for a “cure” for our son’s special needs?
I surprised myself with the answer.
I don’t wish for a cure.
To be completely honest I had a hard time admitting it to myself, and feel guilty thinking it. Typing it is even more difficult.
But here’s the thing: if I say I want him to be “cured” of Autism and his other struggles, I’m not just taking away his greatest struggles; I’m taking away his greatest strengths. And I’d be taking away an opportunity for him to grow from his greatest difficulties.
I’d also be taking away an opportunity for us as a family to continue to learn and grow, to be challenged to see things in a new and different way, to think about things from a different perspective that may have never occurred to us.
Are there days I wish it was easier? That his challenges wouldn’t be such a struggle for him? Yes.
As a mom, we don’t like to see our kids struggle. But as moms, don’t we also know that often with great struggle comes great reward?
I’m learning a lesson, not just as a mom but as a human, a lesson long overdue.
Of the struggle, somewhere between not overlooking it, yet also not wallowing in it.
I feel like it has taken me a long time to get here, and some days I’m still not there. I want to live in a spot where I don’t wish away a difficult circumstance, but rather celebrate progress, and–on those days where there is no progress–choose to hope anyway.