Now Reading: My Wife Would’ve Been a Great Typical Parent – Me, I’m Not So Sure

My Wife Would’ve Been a Great Typical Parent – Me, I’m Not So Sure

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(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.


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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?



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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…




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If you’re gonna shop Amazon anyway, can I ask that you enter Amazon by using the search box above or by going to  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!!


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Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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38 People Replies to “My Wife Would’ve Been a Great Typical Parent – Me, I’m Not So Sure”

  1. Anonymous

    Keep on doing what you're doing!!! No one is forcing anyone to be here. I love hearing about a day in the life of the "King" I also relate to many of your feelings as a parent. We are all just trying to survive & knowing that you're not alone & not crazy for how you feel is a comfort, so thank you for opening up your life it much appreciated!

  2. you are an inspiration, thank you for sharing your life it helps me deal with my family.

  3. It says a lot about what kind of person you are that you speak so highly of your wife. You may not have been able to show a typical son how to change his oil or shoot a 3 pointer, but you would have taught him the way to love and appreciate his spouse, and really, is there a greater lesson than that?

    Sending good vibes to your family. Your insight has been most helpful in our journey.


    A mom of a typical 8 year old, a 4 year old with severe ASD, and a little girl who is somewhere in the middle.

  4. Keep doing what your doing! The more I read the more we love your family ( I read your blog to my husband)

  5. You and your wife are amazing. Autism sucks despite the fierce love we have for our kids. Fight the good fight. Never give up. never surrender.

  6. I like to say whatever doesnt kill you gives you more to write about 🙂 so keep writing King Daddy! Awesome post.

  7. Anonymous

    As an autism Dad, my son and I do father/son things. We take walks through the neighborhood.(well I walk but he rides in his wagon drinking his water and looking around at the sights) But I get those twinges at times on our walks when I see other fathers playing catch withe their sons, or shooting hoops in the driveway, or seeing them pile in the car on the way to a soccer game..At Times it makes me sad, and like you, I'd return his autism in a flash, wouldn't even think twice about it…

  8. Right there with you in the returns line. I'm returning the autism and the apraxia that my kids got lucky with. 2 years into the ASD diagnosis for my son and 4 months into the apraxia diagnosis for my daughter and I think about what could've beens alot but with 3 toddlers I can't let it wreck my day. It is what it is and just keep on swimming.

  9. Coleen

    I know my husband and I wonder how we would have been as parents had we had typical children too. You can't help but wonder.

  10. Anonymous

    As an autism dad my self I often feel and wonder the same things. When we "got the news," as we say, I was in the military looking a long deployment in the face. So when you talk about lots of travel, I too wonder what would have been. I left the military to be at home. My wife is great, she shouldered so much our fist year in the autism world, but the job should not be her's alone. We have not given up on dreaming, but changed the dreams we have. I see a dad and son playing ball and sometimes wonder if that is ever going to happen, but with one look at my son, it does not matter. I would do anything to to get rid of the autism, sometimes i hate it, but sometimes I love it. I look back and see how it has changed our life, and it has mostly (positive outlook here) for the good.

  11. Anonymous

    Your posts always bring tears to my eyes… I am a single mom bringing up two children… An extremely intelligent and caring boy and a sweet, caring, affectionate little boy who is mildly autistic, and a slow learner…. My husband could not take the "pressure"…. It is heartening to see dads like you giving so much to their children… Hats off to you and your cute little family…

  12. Thanks for sharing this : ) This one really hits home for me. Even the part about wanting to return Autism to the store so speak if I could and just keep my wonderful sons that have been buried underneath it somewhere.

    This life is hard, and there are a lot of things I dreamed of being able to do with my kids when I had them that I can't, but I do the best with what we've been given here and to still make their lives as happy, safe, and healthy as possible.

  13. Anonymous

    Not totally the same, but a similar post that you might find interesting:

  14. Katherine

    I love reading your posts and I love your honesty..I have lots of "what if" thoughts as well about my ASD/ADHD daughter and then like you it's gone out of my head as there's something to attend to..You both ROCK!!

  15. Anonymous

    You would have been a great typical Dad. I also changed my career path, I went from managing 20 people to a cube drone, I still try to rationalize it,its hard, bit its easy when I see his face. My wife is an awesome person , she would have been a great typical mom too.

  16. Anonymous

    I think I'm about to cry. Daniel is nearly 4. He knows his parents love him and are there for him, but the 'what ifs' get more upsetting every day and to be honest – in this anonymous community – I really don't know how I can continue to cope. I'm being completely selfish, because I know he's happy and when you're 4 years old that's the only important thing in the world. I'm a completely selfish prick, but that life I was supposed to be living is never going to turn up, no matter which God hears my prayers or which guy I vote for in the next election. So bully for you all, getting over the hands you've been dealt, but I feel like the greatest love in my life is dead, I mourn what should have been and I wallow in my selfishness hoping tomorrow some miracle will arrive. And this is me sober. I envy you all.

    1. Anonymous

      I had friends whose daughter's brain was damaged during birth. They treated her much the same as their 3 boys with love & kindness. They always said that God gave special children to special people! These children can do so many things that so called normal children can't, the world to them is a totally different place. Please enjoy what u have while u have it!

    2. Anonymous

      Hi. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I've held off getting back to you until I was in a more upbeat mood – that hasn't happened. So I'll just say thank you for your kind words and for taking the time. Best wishes, Ian

    3. Anonymous

      I'm guessing perhaps that Daniels DX is under 2 years old, because thats at least how long it took me to get used to the idea of Autism don't really get over it as such. And its a very VERY hard bleak time where your emotions go up and down and up and down over and over.
      Crying is OK. I did it a lot of it at work quietly staring at my computer screen, pretending to have hayfever.
      One day you WILL feel a lot better, as with many things its a matter of time, so hang in there as best you can for now Daniels parent and things will get better as they did for me and for AD (I'm a Dad to a non-verbal non toilet trained as yet 6yr old).

  17. You could have been writing about my hubby and I and our lives with our gorgeous but severely autistic son Rory.

    So strange to read your words that describe our own family so, so closely, when we have never met.

    And why does it help to read of someone having very similar challenges to ours when I know firsthand how tough it can be? I don't know why, but it really does.

  18. i dont think i could have been a parent of typical kids?! dont get me wrong it hard being mom to two severely autistic under 5s but its better for me. i needed an unlimited pass to CRAZY PARK! with my kids i get to be different, i dont have to tow the line, i dont have to squeeze my large square behind into that round hole cus i can just be me and my kids can just be them. they are now free from the expectations of a muggle (neurotypical) society and in turn now, so am i!

  19. Anonymous

    I think I was made to be an autism mommy. I always found playing with my little cousin bothersome. My son never stops moving all day. The house has been through the safety procedure, so I let him go. Being typical with autism he falls down. Sometimes he just keeps going and sometimes it's bad enough for a 5 second hug and kiss then he's off again. My husband FREAKS OUT. Like wanting to take him to the ER every time he has a hard fall. In our house I'm glad has autism.God matched us up perfectly. Normal is too boring in my opinion. My husband, with his freak outs and wanting to take him to the doctor every time there's snotty and a cough, he would be a great puppy daddy. Seriously he is a great dad. He's just extremely over protective. I'm glad he's not here during the, he couldn't stand it, he would have our kid wrapped in bubble wrap.

  20. I love reading your posts, AD. There is always at least one line that sticks with me, and in this post it was that you two have been raising a 2 year old for 7 years.
    You two are incredible and doing a great job.

  21. Rethinking and redefining typical has always been one of my favorite activities.

  22. I don't like playing any "what if" game that involves me changing the children I love. It feels like a betrayal…does that make sense?

    1. Anonymous

      Is your kid's autism profound? My daughter's is. I love my daughter beyond all words, but I hate the part of her that makes her so sick/upset/frustrated that she bites, hits and otherwise hurts herself and me. I hate the sensory dysfunction that makes poop smearing oh so gratifying. I hate the medical mess that requires we have more specialists than I care to count. But I love my daughter.

    2. I agree but when your child suffers from regressive autism, the child did exist and went away…and even in the years my son has had autism (7) he has suffered several regression episodes and it is heart breaking to see him turn into an individual less able to cope, less functional. I do wonder for a minute, but then move on because it is what it is. Autism has been in our lives for so long that I am not sure I would know how to parent without it. I would have to reteach myself, I guess…

    3. Anonymous

      Yes! It's a waste of time and energy to give your thoughts to a child who never existed! If I say I "hate" the autism I am saying I hate a part of my child… and I won't do that!

  23. Anonymous

    Our son is wonderful, highly intelligent, and normal. Our daughter is severely autistic. We have to be both. Strangely, it's equally difficult, trying to balance it all. They have their own challenges. You would be a great typical dad, and you should go for it:)

  24. WOW ! LOVE THIS BLOG !! I always wonder how things would be different, would I still be married,would my older son turned out different, did I spend enough time with him ? My 18yr old is amazing but I know having an ASD brother has changed him, some for the better and some for the worse. He missed out on stuff, had to cut things short (have to leave when brother is ready to leave or it gets ugly). How much did I miss out on having to do Doc app. and afterschool stuff when Josh was younger. Yes everything wrapped around Josh, I know it did, still does. It's a balancing act that always leave you wondering, Did I do that right ?? I love being around my neices and nephews too,it's so cool to see how bright they are and yeah it's nice to have normalcy. You always second guess yourself, worry about the future(that really stresses me out), and wonder what if. The "Newbies" haven't gotten as far, probably because we've excepted it, "it is what it is", 14yrs of try this and try that will make you deal with reality real quick. I always hope that something will click, like someone else will find a magic way to get through to him,one day he will act his age instead of a 5 or 6 yr old, one day his aim in the bathroom will improve,one night we will just go to bed like normal people at a reasonable time. Until then we read each others Blogs and comments, and feel better knowing that someone else is out there doing and thinking the same or similar things that you are !! Thanks for this one,I just thought I was being selfish when I wished things were different ! 🙂

  25. Anonymous

    oh I forgot to say….none of your lacking skills matter. you just need love. sappy I know but soooo true.

  26. I am both a (severe) autism mom (to one) and a "typical" mom (to three) — not sure I'm awesome at any of it. But I'm here to tell you that the autism parent thing is infinitely more challenging and less rewarding. As one of my SN mom friends says "Typical parenting is so easy! Why do they even bother having Mother's and Father's Day?!" LOL I also belive that being a cool aunt can be a lot more fun than being a mom (even to typical kids). You get to do the fun things, buy them trinkets, and then let their parents do the heavy(er) lifting.

    You and your wife do a wonderful job of an extremely difficult situation, and you do it with humor and aplomb. Hats off to Autism Mommy, and to you!

  27. Anonymous

    please dont let this kill your dream of having more kids. we had a severely behavioral, aggressive, practically non verbal (very few words), intractable epileptic 7year old when I got pregnant by choice. I needed medical treatment to male sure the baby didn't get what my older did….long story…we had fears that our son would hate the baby, would hurt the baby etc. we feared that our baby would grow up to resent the life he was born into, we feared that the baby would be autistic and the other stuff our older one had and that it wasn't fair to birth him into this life.
    well of course the opposite happened. they love each other and our older one beemed when holding his little brother. was excited and totally appropriate oh wait I take that back….he wanted to climb into the incubator box in the nicu to be with his brother.
    the birth of his brother did things for my older sin that no Therapist could ever do. he is more verbal, is learning empathy, is playing more appropriately, he follows directions better like walking with us while holding on to a cart at Costco because I knew we needed that skill or we would be trapped inside the house forever. is my older one cured? not even close but he has made great strides.
    they are now currently
    12 and 4 (almost) 5. now we all het to live a more typical life because he was born, including my older one. and lastly.the people our ypu.her one added to our lives have been so loving and accepting. my 12 year old has been invited to more parties in the passed 4+
    years than he was ever invited too in his life.
    oh and two last things autism takes enough away from us don't let it take your children away and even though it won't be 'his job' our older one now has someone that loves him that will be there when we are gone.

    1. Thank you so much for that. I have an almost 4 year old mod-severely autistic son who is mostly non verbal and I know one day I want another child. But I have so many fears about it. Including but not limited to; will I be able to handle my son and an infant at the same time? Will my son hate the baby and want to hurt it? What if the next child has autism? Can I handle 2 autistic children? What if the second is MORE severe? Just a lot of what ifs. But I know I need to take that chance.

    2. Thank you. I needed to hear that. I am starting classes next week to become a foster parent and maybe adopt (I had a hysterectomy so unfortunately, I am unable to get pregnant again.) I am hoping that having a "typical" child in the house helps my moderate/severe ASD child.

  28. Anonymous

    Everyday I read your blogs and FB posts and they makes me smile to hear about your journey and the ups and downs or life with an ASD son. But they also make me sad because not all fathers/husbands stick around. My son is 3 1/2 and was recently diagnosed. He is the my light, my joy, my rock. I can not imagine life without him. I can't imagine how his father could just abandon him…walk away from all of it. Yes, it is tough some days but the joys and smiles and unexpected connections are SO worth it.
    Kristin M.

  29. AD! Thanks again for another great post. You have to be an special parent to have enough love and patience for the cards that we are dealt. Having 4 kids on the spectrum and only 1 like your king, it is hard but your so right! "whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger!". I love. Reading your posts!