Saturday, May 24, 2014

What I Hope He Knows

I held Chloe up to the mirror to see her reaction to her reflection. After a surprised few seconds, she smiled at the drooly baby gazing back at her. I remember doing the same thing with Ethan, and he would only stare.

I put her in the exersaucer for the first time, and after she got comfortable, she looked and saw Anna, Ethan and I watching her. She looked from face to face, and for the first time I saw little wheels turning in her head (People are watching me. I kind of like all of this attention.). She started babbling and screeching.

I checked the milestone lists and where Chloe is at four months. Right on target; not crazy far ahead the way Anna was sometimes, but certainly not behind, either. Reaching for toys. Bearing weight on legs. Laughing. The list goes on.

I look at all of these things and first, know that there are no guarantees, that just recently I came across a study showing that autism was harder to detect in infants than previously thought; that these kids did actually seem indistinguishable from typical babies early on; never mind that one type of autism actually shows itself later on. I thought all of this while acknowledging that at the moment, things are looking good.

But as soon as I thought that, I wondered. I wondered about writing about my searching for signs that my baby was "okay" and feeling relieved to see her hit social milestones on time. Namely, I wondered, if Ethan came across this blog one day, what would he think?

What would he think to read about his mother hoping that his little sister was not like him?

This is the weird thing, when you are writing about your kids and they are so little. I started this blog when Ethan was two and Anna was five. At the time I couldn't fathom them reaching an age where they would care I was writing about them and sharing their antics with others. Sadly, the word "privacy" never came to mind, or maybe I would have given them pseudonyms. It wasn't until this year that Anna started to express embarrassment about things I'd share about her on Facebook, and I realized I needed to back off a little and respect her as an individual rather than a little extension of me.

And then we come to Ethan, who's life has been spread out here for four years now for all to see. There's been the good, the bad, and the ugly; in recent years, much more of the good. I would hope he would see I have learned to respect the unique way he is wired. I would hope that he would see we love him for who he is and aren't bent on molding him into something he's not.

And his autism itself? I would hope and pray that Ethan would not hate that part of him. I would hope he would understand there are many autisms, and that I have been a first-hand witness to both sides of the spectrum. It's not that I wouldn't want to wish autism on anyone; it's that I wouldn't want to wish those parts of autism that can completely overwhelm and frustrate a person; those parts that make it difficult for them to live in their body, to communicate their needs, to understand their world.

I hope he knows there are things about him that are incredibly unique and wonderful and refreshing and probably wouldn't be there if not for autism.

Autism is not cancer or some kind of devastating rare genetic condition. If I'd had one child go through something like that, and then had another, and was relieved to see my child have a clean bill of health, that feels different.

But autism is not so much physical as a way of thinking and perceiving and sensing. I understand now why it almost makes sense to call someone "autistic" rather than "having autism." Autism is so much a part of who they are that it's hard to extract the person away from it.

I hope Ethan, I hope all of my kids, grow to know that they are loved, that God made them and has a plan for them. In the end, that is the most important thing. Maybe I need to remember that too. Take a break from the milestones. And just enjoy.

1 comment:

Anita Morrison said...

Amen! Making sure kids know that God loves them and has a plan for their lives is so important. God didn't make a mistake when He made them. They are different and special and very loved by God. Sounds like you are doing a great job as a mama. God bless you.