Monday, August 9, 2010

A Club of Two.....

Good day all! :-)

Ssshhh.......I belong to a secret club.

No one else knows about it except for the other member. Membership applications are no longer being accepted; meetings are held daily, at the same location. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts & assorted snacks are always served.

There are plenty of laughs, silly handshakes, hugs administered throughout the day, goofy voices, 'break-your-neck' dance moves, tons of drum beats, movies & sitcoms shared, chores, talks, tears, attitude-adjustments, haircuts, poster hangings, trophy arranging, random baseball games to be watched, room cleanings, shoot-outs @ the basketball court, long, long walks, 'hikes' in the woods, baseball, softball, basketball & track seasons to be attended, Skittles to be eaten, Slurpees to be drank, size 13-tennis shoes, spikes & team {___________} to be bought (fill in the blank), dreams & wishes to be prayed for. Oh, and there is no age limit.

22 years ago when my esteemed club member was diagnosed as autistic, i thought my world would crack in two. Why is it when our children are anything less than what we think of as 'normal', do we blame ourselves? And boy oh boy - the effort I put into pretending like he was 'normal.' I remember dreading teacher conferences because it crashed everything I had so carefully constructed: 'he's just a little slow - he'll catch up.' If I wasn't in tears before I left the
conference, you can believe i would be driving away from it. Everything I looked forward to doing w/him had to be adjusted to his terms, if he would be able to handle it. I felt overwhelmed, guilty and depressed.

In spite of my stubborn-ness of accepting my child the way he was, I had to slowly check things off the list:
  • he did not like attention, so birthday parties & social gatherings featuring him were out. God forbid a professional photo-shoot (yes, that was a bad day...)
  • he was painfully shy, so communication with others was out
  • loud noises freaked him out, so we had to be careful where we went
Life moved on w/me in denial (in spite of attending parent-mentoring classes) & the son moving along (I enrolled him in early intervention 'school' @ the age of 3) When he turned 9 years old & I signed him up for Special Olympics baseball. When I met all those folks whose children had disabilities, I cried. I had felt so alone early on, plus, I felt SO STUPID for being such an ass about my boy who had a learning/speech delay when there were families whose children were PHYSICALLY impaired; who would never be able to walk, play ball, feed themselves, dress themselves. And those parents were the most proud, smiling, loving people, with outstretched arms. My life was changed For. Ever. Many of them are still today our extended family. Our kids have literally grown up together! I had never had a more comfortable feeling of "us" & "them." Our kids were the "us", we were proud, kicking ass & taking names! (LOL!) We looked @ the parents of "them" and actually pitied them!

I remember the day I truly 'shed' my ignorant skin. Me & son (then 13) were @ the tri-monthly neurologist's visit & the doctor said, 'you may want to make long-term plans for him with his
'mental retardation.'

Those words stung at first. Stung me bad. I could feel that "poor me" thing rising up inside, then it popped like a balloon! It was done & over. Right then & there, I decided to appreciate what my son could do - not what he couldn't do!! That night, I stayed on my knees talking to God until my knees went numb! I apologized to God for not seeing the gift in my beautiful baby; when he needed my guidance the most, I was trying to change him. My mind opened up like a room that had been closed off. I can honestly say that I don't remember who or what I was like before he came into my life, all I know is he has changed me. I strive to be happy, I try to always look up, I'm quick to forgive, I try to always keep a smile on my face, and that childlike innocence will add YEARS to your life. This is how he lives everyday.

Now, as you can see, my baby is a young man and he grows more awesome in my eyes each day. He is a self-taught drummer, an all-around sportsman, a gentleman extarodinaire (he always holds the door & says, 'ladies first'). He graduated from 'regular' public school in 2008 (walked w/the Sr. class), & has been working @ the WorkShops for over a year where he makes his own money. Even though he has choices, for now he opts to continue to live at home. With me. Which is just fine. Because we're having 'club T-shirts' printed up... :-)


Thanks, James, for teaching me how to 'taste the rainbow' ~ Love you, Mom




Very top picture: Son & I after 2009 Breast Cancer Walk. What a guy....

3 comments:

  1. Truly inspiring story! You are both blessed to have each other.

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  2. Thank you! it's a story I never tire of telling :-)

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  3. What a lovely story.

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