Sunday, March 26, 2017

Brave Face

When T.J. was little, we had all these goals for when he was done with high school. It felt so far away.
We are here. We are on the edge of it.
In some ways we are ahead of the game, but in many more ways it is not the shiny success story I had my heart set on.
We are realizing that we have to readjust our ideas of "success".
It's a lot to wrap our heads and hearts around. He is amazing - he is the best T.J. he can be - and I am so proud of him.
But I am not proud of me, at all. I didn't set proper expectations in my own head, for all these years. I pushed a lot under the rug and created a much more "typical" picture of where we would be.  
But that's not reality - it never was.
And that's what I now have to reconcile with. It's selfish of me to feel badly, but it's real. And I've always been real here, if nothing else.
I won't feel badly for long, there is no time for it. But there it is. I will keep plowing ahead, and together we will find what's next for our amazing boy, and what is best for him.
Not my DREAM of what I want for him, but what his REALITY is.
I always said to fellow autism parents, "don't look too far ahead. Don't put your expectations of what you want on your kid, they will show you the way bit by bit."
I wish I had listened to my own advice. Brave face. Here we go.

1 comment:

  1. Asalamu Alaykom from Egypt,

    I'm here after reading the Washington Post article "Lessons from My Son with Autism". I have three children, but none of them have autism. I know about autism from being a teacher to students on the spectrum.

    Really, I think that we're all on the spectrum to some degree. I hate extraneous noise (which has meant some challenges in REALLY NOISY Egypt). I can't stand wearing itchy anything. I'm not trying to diminish what you go through.

    When you write of giving up hopes and dreams for your son, I want you to know that every parent has to. What you wrote was very universal while at the same time giving particular insight into the world in which you live. I appreciated your heartfelt grieving.

    A family therapist I know once wrote a book about grieving for dreams that die. I feel that there isn't enough time and space given to such an idea in a world of "get over it and move on". It hurts to retire a hope.

    All of my children have somehow let me down over the years. None of them are exactly who I wanted them to be, YET I have learned to let go of that imaginary child in my head and see them for who they are. When I welcome the actual gift I've been given, I love them more.

    It's been as hard to let go of the imaginary adult I wanted my eldest son to be. It's difficult because that dream has been carried around longer, so it's harder to release it to what actually is. Even if I was so happy with one path he went down, I was equally unhappy with others. Eventually, I have to admit that it's his life...not mine...I have my life and I can't control his.

    What's harder for you, I think, is that you still have to be so watchful of TJ to the point of not being able to get that separation. It is a tricky maneuver to be the guardian AND be pushing independence. I feel that now with my 12-year-old.

    One idea I really wanted to suggest is to look at how other cultures deal with young adults. Here in Egypt, young men do NOT live on their own until they get married. It is not seen as immature, but as quite natural. America pushes the heck out of independence from family. It's been refreshing to see a culture which doesn't believe in separating simply due to age. Of course, in the US, there would be raised eyebrows, but there always are, right?

    Best wishes to you and your family. Keep faith that you are doing all you can. Love and Light!