(originally written & published on January 21, 2013)
Yesterday we had some family over including two of our young nieces. They are 7 & 8 years old. And the whole time they were over the wife kept asking, "Hey girls, wanna do some coloring? I've got a bucket of crayons, paper & markers..."
After a couple of hours of her asking they finally appeased her and said yes.
The wife grabbed the kiddie table & chairs from the kings playroom and set them up in a corner of the dining room.
And the wife and our nieces spent the next hour engrossed in coloring. The little girls were into it and the wife was too. And I heard her throw a few autism praises around like "Good job!"
Anyway watching the wife thrilled to be coloring made me realize how great a typical mom my wife would have been.
She has always been the "cool aunt" to all our nieces & nephews always wanting to play a game or color, always up on pop culture, and just generally a cool chick.
And she would have been an even cooler typical mom if she was given the chance.
I mean right now, as you all know, she is an amazing mom! But she is an amazing autism mom.
I've recounted how my wife is an Autism Mommy Rock Star many times, but if you want a good picture of her awesomeness I implore you to please read this old blog post HERE.
And maybe in some homes there's not much of a difference between an autism mom and a typical mom, but in our house there is. In our house it's kinda like we're stuck in the movie "Groundhog Day". We've been raising a 2 year old for 7 years now. And that needs a different kind of mom.
She's still the coolest autism mom I know. She has learned how to roll with the punches better than any other severe autism mom that I know. And she tries to make things fun for the king. She's always singing him songs and is trying to get him to dance and is always full of energy.
But unfortunately many of the things that make her a cool aunt and would have made her a cool typical mom don't factor into her job as an autism mom.
And that makes me sad. And at times I know it makes her sad. She always wanted a big family. At least 3 kids. And she would have taught them a love of 80s music & movies & pop culture. And they would've been the coolest weirdest typical kids on the block.
But instead we've got the sharpest dressed coolest most severe kid on the block with the coolest parents that somehow ON THE SURFACE seem to deal with it all exceptionally well.
So, do I think I wouldve been an awesome typical dad, you ask?
Sometimes even after 7 years of living this autism life I see my son and I get a sharp pang of "I wonder what kind of father I would've been with a typical son?" And sometimes my brain even goes to "Wow I would've been a much better dad if I had a typical son because I could do ___, ___, and ___ with him and I could teach him about ____, ___, and ____."
But you know what? I'm not sure I would've been as good a dad with a typical kid. Here's a bunch of reasons why...
-- I'm not athletic in any way shape or form, so besides running there's no sports I could teach him.
-- I'm not a handyman, so I could impart none of that wisdom on my son
-- In my old life before the diagnosis I was on a career path where I was traveling quite a bit, and probably would have continued along that path and I wouldn't be around as much. After the diagnosis I headed in a different direction that requires no travel. I may be stuck and haven't had a promotion or a raise in 5(!) years, but at least I get home at 6:30pm each night.
-- But here's the most important one...before the autism diagnosis I never would have considered going on antidepressants. I know, your thinking "you probably wouldn't have needed antidepressants if your son didn't have autism" but you know what? I probably could have used them for years! I think about the stupid, silly things that I used to get stressed about before my son was born. What a jerk I was.
(I wrote about how antidepressants have helped me HERE)
So I'm not sure what kind of typical dad I would have been...but I know my wife would have been an awesome typical mom.
But we weren't dealt the typical cards...so we're doing the best we can with the hand we were dealt. And on most days I'm proud of the autism parents we've become.
One thing I do know, I'm pretty sure our marriage is stronger because we have an autistic kid. In our world the expression "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" really holds true...cuz with all we've been thru the fact that we are still together says volumes.
That's about all I've got to say.
Now I'm not gonna leave you with one of those "because of all this I wouldn't trade his autism if I could" You might not like this, but even with everything I just wrote, I would return his autism to the store right away if I could. I don't even need my money back or store credit. They can keep it.
If Kyle was typical I'd love to see how our lives would've turned out. Would we have 3 kids? Would we be happy?
But again... we weren't dealt the typical cards...so we're doing the best we can with the hand we were dealt. And loving our crazy king with all our hearts and revolving our lives around him.
And for you newbie autism parents, you may not like to hear this...but after 7 years of living this autism life these "what if" thoughts still pop in my head almost on a daily basis. The difference is, in the beginning, it would stay in my head and ruin my day. Now I see a typical father & son and it pops in my head for a fleeting moment of "I wonder..." and then it goes away cuz I'm busy passing handfulls of cheerios to the king in the backseat...
-- If you're gonna shop Amazon anyway, can I ask that you enter Amazon by using the search box above or by going to http://www.amazon.com/?tag=a050ef-20 This way I can make a little money to help pay for my son's after school & weekend therapies. This blogging thing has been awesome & life changing for me... but I must admit that it's taking up a lot more time than I ever thought... so if I can make a few bucks it'll make it easier for me to justify....Love you all! Thanks!!