My son’s special needs are sometimes seen as a detriment, not just to him but to me. People pat me on the back and tell me how strong I am. They applaud my parenting and will sometimes tell me how they don’t know how I do it.
Truth? Sometimes I don’t know either. My little guy can be a handful at times. There have been so many different situations he has caused that leave me shaking my head while trying to process all the work that I needed to do. Messes to clean, lessons to teach, and sleep to miss, all contribute to the reasons why non-verbal autism can be tough to manage.
This is where I usually start to talk about how tough any children are. I give examples of my 14 year old daughter’s neurotypical nightmare moments and how they are similar to his. In some cases, they can be much worse. Soon, I’m writing a story about how tough children in general are to raise. You’ve read them before. You know the story. This isn’t that story.
Yes. Lucas is difficult at times. That’s true. He’s also great at times. His wonderful qualities outnumber his negatives. I have told that story even more than the other one. Anyone who has read my posts has had that point hammered home many times.
That too, is not the point I am making here. This isn’t about my son and his good or bad behavior. It’s about who my son is and what he brings into my life. It’s about his place in our family. It’s about why his mere presence is so important.
I had a rough end of the year. Those who read about it could sympathize. Dealing with a dead car, sudden unemployment, and worries about my future all left me in a haze until my luck turned in January. I was further down than I had been in a long time, perhaps ever.
People were there for me. My daughter, my friends, and Lauren all showed me support and care. I was grateful for them, but also made a concerted effort to show them my best self. I couldn’t lay face down on the floor or walk around with a massive frown. I mean, I could, but I didn’t want to. They wanted to know I was OK so I wanted them to know I was OK, even if I wasn’t OK. Having people worried for me would only make me feel worse.
Lucas? He doesn’t care about that stuff. He can’t always read my face and, even when he can, he’s not going to feel worried or concerned. He’s just there to hang out. I get hugs and kisses from him no matter what expression I’m projecting. He treats me the same if I am happy, sad, angry, or sleeping. I never need to wear a mask for him. Lucas is the person who sees my real face the most.
This isn’t a statement about anyone but Lucas. In all honesty, I know that I don’t need to wear a mask for anyone. The people in my circle don’t judge me for being too far down and, I don’t hide my hard moments from them on a regular basis. The reasons I paint a smile on my face in times of despair are for me. I don’t want anyone worried and I don’t want to ruin the good times I have with them by forcing everyone to relish in my bad moments. Many times, I force a smile from my own lips in order to elicit one from theirs. Seeing them happy makes me feel happier. I need that. It’s more important to me than having them share in my woes.
What makes Lucas unique is that I could fully be myself with him. My lowest moments are all out in the open when he’s around. He’s seen me at my worst and he’s never backed out of the room or felt responsible. He’s always just him.
What does that mean? It means he is lovable, huggable, and available no matter what the temperature in the room is. There were many days during that long December when he sat by my side as I laid prone on the couch with a sense of dread. Anyone else in his position would spring into action and try to fix something that only I could fix. Lucas? He smiled, laughed, and had me type search terms into YouTube Kids on his iPad. If I’m lying face down on the couch he’ll tap the back of my head and shove his device under my face for it. He treated me like Dad even when I wasn’t feeling like much of one. It was normalcy when I felt anything but normal.
Often, I say that Lucas is the purest person I have ever known. He isn’t greedy, egotistical, or mean. He’s just a good person and there’s no duplicity with him. What you see is what you get. Lucas is purely Lucas when he’s around you.
And I’m purely me when I’m around him. He listens to me complain. He hears my problems with people and the issues that cause me stress. He’s my non-verbal sounding board and, while he doesn’t offer advice, he offers comfort. He got me through so many of my hardest moments, both in December and before, and he will get me through many more to come.
People might not know how I manage to raise a special needs child. Me? I don’t know how I’d manage without him.
You must be logged in to post a comment.