Friday, August 3, 2012

Here's Your Mirror

When you are the parent of a child who is non typical, you learn very quickly to celebrate and revel in the simplest of things. As a Mom of a young man blessed with autism, I have often been known to cheer things other mothers might groan at.I know as the mother of a son I often was overjoyed/aghast at the same time during our teenage years. YAY!!! age appropriate behavior...Oh No! age appropriate behavior! It's a fine line with boys!!

 I was reminded that we who are lucky enough to parent amazing children never take anything for granted, and revel in what might to others look like mundane accomplishments. A young friend of mine is also fortunate enough to be the parent of a male child blessed with autism. I have felt honored the last few years to be able to share with her as we are much farther down the road in our travels than she is-and it is always nice to know someone who has been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

Recently we were both excited to share 'milestones' with our young men. Susan's guy will be 7 years old in a few days, and she was so excited to share that he had used a fork to eat spaghetti for the first time. I was excited for her. Now most moms are probably not excited by something a simple as a child learning to use a fork, but for some of us that is worthy of celebration. When my son has achieved something like this I have often wondered, how did that switch get flipped?

My son is an adult male now, and he did something the same week that most moms wouldn't be celebrating, but at our house it was amazing. He was watching his favorite sport, a NASCAR race, and a driver did something that caused him to exclaim "What the hell was that?" My first response was to ask "What did you say?" not because I am offended by the occasional use of the word hell, but because my son has never before used any type of expletive and I wanted to be sure I heard him right.
So, I said "What did you say?" (I have hearing problems he is used to me asking that) and he said "What the hell did he just do?" Yup, I heard him right, I thought. Then I thought how cool, I heard him right. Now that doesn't mean I want my son to be in the habit of throwing around four-letter words, it means I am always excited when my son does something that is age appropriate, and I am certain that "what the hell..." is an appropriate response for a 27 year old male sometimes.

Never taking anything for granted is a gift that some of us moms are able to cherish. Celebrating our children no matter what. Celebrating a 7 year old using a fork to eat spaghetti, or a 27 year old just being a guy. It's the little things in life that are never little for some of us. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for all parents. Celebrate our children, revel in the mundane, the ordinary, and your children will bless you every single day!

Of course this all reminds me of my favorite Erma Bombeck column, the one I share every time a mom finds out she has been blessed with an amazing child. I am including it here, and Hey, Susan, here's your mirror!

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia."

"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect -she has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps - "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a "spoken word". She will never consider a "step" ordinary. When her child says "Mummy" for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"
"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side".

"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air. God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

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