I am a much different mother than I expected to be.
I am the kind of mother who cares less about grades on a report card and more about teaching my kids how to load the dishwasher. I worry less about trophies on the mantle and more about kindness on the bus.
Perhaps God/the universe/genetics/my in-laws decided to give me a child with special needs so I would learn how to wait. The best things in my life so far are the ones I have waited for; an unexpected sentence, a surprise smile, a quick one-armed hug in the hallway.
The thing is, I will probably never know why I gave birth to a baby with autism, any more than I know why six is the magic number of pillows at bedtime. Some things in life are simply meant to remain a mystery.
But I do know that no matter how hard I think it is to have a child with special needs, it is a million times harder for him.
On the days my heart is squeezing, this child’s heart is shattering.
When I am gasping for air amidst autism’s rising tide, this child is nearly drowning.
Underneath it all — the tantrums about a missing pillow and the small orange vial with the little white pills and hundreds of questions about the schedule, I know he’s trying to tell me something else entirely.
Make room for me. I am here.
The thing is, once in a lifetime, you get the chance to meet a person who is unlike any other person you have ever met.
A person who is complicated, and honest, and tenacious, and pure.
This person, well, he changes who you thought you were.
And who you planned to become.
He is traveling a lonesome journey of one, yet changing the lives of many.
He is a boy named Jack. He is my child. He is my son.