Oh my stars! It helped this mama to talk to another God-centered mama about my dearest heart - loving all of my children.
Recently, I had the sweet joy of chatting up a storm with the God-Centered Mom podcaster, Heather MacFadyen. She asked so many good and hard questions for her listeners. She is a skilled interviewer.
Parenting in general is hard. It sands us down raw and tender, before burnishing us to a shine. Loving a child on the autism spectrum in particular is the grittiest thing I have ever done, and the most soul-shaping.
If you have a child with autism, chronic illness, disability or any special needs, you quickly realize you have to fight harder, forgive more easily, be more resilient and go deeper with God than ever before for your family to thrive with healthy bonds.
Autism with its characteristic holes in communication and outbursts took so much joy out of our family life that I thought I might not survive it. When one child struggles to navigate social nuances, be comfortable in his own skin and just live in the world, it is hard to connect and forge strong ties.
Bless his blue-eyed soul, Mac was working as hard as he could. He was hurting. We were hurting, too.
It took me quite a while, but with perseverance, grit and a slow and seismic shift in how I saw the whole enchilada, I started to see the work God was doing in our family. I am not saying it was quick, tidy or pretty, or even without moments of despair. But by nestling one child with autism within the circle of three typical kids, we were all being shaped by grit and grace.
Mac needed the examples of and interactions with his more even-keeled and typically developing sibling and our typical kids needed the practice of coming alongside a brother who was out-of-sync with the world. When those two needs rubbed up against each other, often there were sparks, fireworks even. But eventually, the two smoothed one another out or made corresponding grooves, I am not sure which. Maybe both.
The result in our family was more understanding and deep-seeded mercy for those who struggle mightily, those who never fit in, never feel included or never get invited to birthday parties. The tears I cried behind sunglasses and closed car doors over the happy shouts and buoyant balloons of school kids on their way to birthday parties would sink the Titanic.
One day, it dawned on me that those metallic tears were for me as much as Mac. I was done fighting them and let them flow.
The result of that pity party which needed it's release was a sudden realization that we were not the only ones left out. I just thought we were. So began our hosting of small quirky birthday parties for Mac with invitations for the forgotten kids, and some not forgotten as well. What we needed was unity, not separate parties. We just made them all regular kids and parents for a short afternoon.
It was a beautiful thing to start to get over myself and make birthday plans that included kids in wheelchairs, with jerky movements or flapping hands along with more typical kids too. They are all God's children and better together. We all are.
If you liked this post for yourself or a friend, you can download my complete list of 10 Ways Loving a Child with Autism has Made our Family Stronger by grabbing it free on the pop-up at the end of this post.