“Today I was thinking about how life could have been… if I’d never been your mother. A mother to a child with autism.
When pushing through the daily challenges that present for a child on the spectrum, the default position is to dwell on the hard stuff.
I get hurt a lot. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.
While none of it is intentional, it sucks to be bitten or kicked by my kiddo.
While none of it is intentional, it sucks that some of my mom friends live completely unrelatable lives.
While none of it is intentional, it sucks that my little boy cannot say he loves me. Cannot call me ‘mom.’ Cannot say his own name.
And while I have certainly spent some time in that default position — victim, overwhelm, exhaustion — without having been dragged unwillingly and unwittingly through what can only be described as life’s greatest wake-up call, I can only find gratitude in my heart for all of it.
Is it what I expected from motherhood? Nope.
Is it what I planned? Hell nope.
You know, they say, ‘Life is what happens while you’re making plans.’ My experience has been that I can’t ask the universe for a big life and then complain when it gets delivered in strange wrapping paper.
Who am I to want to experience everything the world has to offer, and then turn up my nose at the first big challenge that is presented to me?
How arrogant! For me to think I have no life lessons to learn. Or that I should get to choose in which manner I should learn them. Get a grip, Anna!
How humbling to learn everything in my life offers an opportunity for growth. And the larger the challenge, the more meaningful and extraordinary the growth.
My evolution has been clumsy, fulfilling, embarrassing, terrifying, humbling, delightful, and uplifting. And I’ve barely even gotten started.
Just as the Tao Te Ching explained, teaching a child the wonder of the simple things in life means the extraordinary will take care of itself. This principle applies to me tenfold.
While some mothers are focused on matching cushions and annoyed about missing the latest episode of The Bachelor, I have learned to hone my skills in surrender and presence.
I have learned to practice gratitude for the minutia.
I probably have acquired a diploma in ‘not sweating the small stuff.’
In the space of ten minutes, I can experience the sickening horror of my child escaping out the front door, closely followed by the wild euphoria of seeing my child attempt a new skill like putting on a sock. I’ve always loved rollercoasters and now I am being gifted a ride equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.
While I will never pretend this life is easy, I remind myself nothing worth having ever is. That life isn’t supposed to be easy. And if it is, then we’re probably missing the point.
If there are no ups and downs, it probably means I’m dead, right? Or pretty close to it. Certainly not LIVING.
My ability to experience joy is inversely proportional to my ability to experience pain. If I had never experienced heartbreak, fear, the disillusionment of my sweet child living with a debilitating disability, how would I ever experience the heights of joy, gratification, and relief I have? To say nothing of all the breakthroughs we both still have to come.
Some women never get this chance.
Some women are never gifted with being hit by the freight train of life going ‘Not As Planned.’
Many humans sleepwalk through their lives on autopilot.
Never hearing the call to look beyond the superficial and irrelevant.
Never recognizing the great beauty that exists in a simple smile. Or the way you reach out to hold my finger.
So I say to you, my beautiful boy. My darling heart. My firstborn child.
A million times, thank you.
For waking me from the slumber of an ordinary life.
For teaching me what I don’t know, that I don’t know.
For shooting down my presumptive plans for control over every aspect of my life.
For gifting me with the opportunity to set my precious ego aside and see what lies beneath.
For allowing me to learn that autism is not good or bad or easy or hard. It just is. It is a neutral label onto which I can project gratitude or hatred.
To really see what I can hold. To see what I really am capable of. To really experience a big life. Without you, I’d still be focused on the matching cushions, and wouldn’t that be the biggest tragedy of all?”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Anna Commons from Melbourne, AU. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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