Saturday, January 15, 2011

Perception-Dream a Little Dream with Me

Walk with us through any public place, and you will see people perceive us in a myriad of ways, none of which have anything to do with our reality. My son, my baby, all 6'7" 350 more or less pounds of him brings out either the best or worst in people. I am pretty sure he inherited that from me.Some only see his size, and it makes them look at him again.Some see his hair, that comes down past the middle of his back and decide that means something about him.Some people immediately see in him the sweetness and gentleness that  are part of who he is.He has been called freak,retard, weirdo, and many things I will not repeat. He has been described by some who have met  him as a gentle giant, an amazing young man. I suppose I was uniquely qualified to be his mother because those things, and many others have all been said about me.

I usually have an unobstructed view of these things, as he walks ahead of me. I walk slowly these days, helped along by a cane or a walker, depending on the pain level of the moment. So, as I get in the door of the public place, he has gone before me, and I get to see people react to him. As his mom, that is not always a good thing.Sometimes, if I see that he has inadvertently bumped into someone I will apologize and explain that he is autistic. Sometimes I will call his name, giving people the opportunity to know that they have been seen or heard. Sometimes I will let it go, knowing that a strangers perception has absolutely nothing to do with our realities.

Reality is that this is not a one size fits all world. We all come in different shapes, sizes, interests, abilities and dis-abilities.It is really hard sometimes to be different. My son wears his hair long, he gets a haircut about once a year. He does this on purpose. He saw a report on the news about Locks of Love, the charity that accepts donations of hair to make wigs for children who have lost their hair. Since he wears his hair long most of the time he decided to let it grow to the required 10 inch length and then get a haircut and donate it to Locks of Love. It takes about 10 to 12 months for him to get a 10 inch ponytail. Often, persons blessed with autism don't exhibit compassion, so when I look at my sons long hair I see evidence of compassion, and charity, and love.

My son is a miracle. I was not supposed to be able to become pregnant. About a year before I conceived I had just finished treatment for endometrial cancer. The surgery, and 3 rounds of chemo cured the cancer, but according to the doctors left me infertile. My gynecologist told me that even if I weren't infertile because of the cancer treatment, my weight would be an issue. When he told me that I weighed 250 pounds. But then just a few weeks later I was involved in an automobile accident and broke my back. It was a long year of recovery and I gained all of the weight back. When I got pregnant I weighed 404 pounds. In fact I sent a copy of my sonogram to my gynecologist with a note saying "250 pound women don't get pregnant but 400 pound women do!" So my son is my miracle.

When he was christened, I asked God to help me make sure that he would know all of the magic of childhood. There wasn't magic in my childhood,and I wanted more than anything to provide that for my son.Prayers are amazing things. We use words to to share our deepest desires with or Creator and to ask our Creator to help us make those dreams come true. Little did I know that day that I stood next to our priest asking God for my son to always know the magic of childhood, that always might be always.That we would be enjoying the magic decades later Dreams sometimes do come true.

So, the next time you see someone like us in the store, or walking down the street please don't feel the need to look at us as if we offend you. You don't change our reality by saying something hurtful or derogatory.

 We are blessed to be different.We have hopes and dreams, we have challenges and victories just like everyone. We have faith, and we have the great good fortune to be able to walk in that faith. Knowing that we are loved means that we don't have to worry about what your perception of us is, because our reality has nothing to do with you perceptions. Our reality is based on our dreams ,our faith and our love.

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