From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, her first instinct is to protect and love her unborn child.
As a mom of five adopted little loves, I did not have those first few months to bond with my children as he or she grew inside of me. Our bonding started the day the caseworker handed them over to me with their trash bag filled with all of their belongings. The healing starts as soon as they feel safe and loved.
With wild man the bond was instantaneous. The worker handed me his car seat and I took him in the house. As I unbuckled his car seat and pulled his tiny little body up into my arms he made the sweetest noise. As I held him tight and listened to the worker explain his case I fell in love. The bond we share could not be stronger if I had given birth to him.
Our journey has not been easy. Early on we knew he was not developing at what society calls a”normal” rate. By the age of three we were given the diagnosis of autism with sensory issues. We were told that he would never talk in full sentences, he would most likely never run or climb, and that his abilities would be limited. Our world changed drastically inside that 45 minute office visit. We were just getting use to be parents of little ones again, and now we were told we were the parents of a child with autism. I was not prepared. But I had no choice, I would move mountains for him, he was my son.
Now he is six. In the last three years we have figured out how to do things in order to give him the best possible life. We have moved and the school he attends now is nothing less than a God send. He is not only doing well, he is excelling. He can now hold a pencil, write his name, and is learning to count and even read, YES READ!!!! For all these things I am thankful. But there is still the other side of autism not many talk about. We still have daily food battles. I have been told by teachers and family he needs to eat a better diet. With his sensory issues a good diet is not something in our reach. You name it we have tried it. Everything from gluten free to all organic, but the fact is if I can’t get it in his mouth then its not going to work. What works, well this week he is eating popcorn, bread sticks, strawberry yogurt, strawberry pop-tarts, KFC mash potatoes, cheese curls, and his all time favorite food Stage two Gerber peas(these he only eats at the house now because some boy at his school told him it was for babies) Is it a healthy diet? Probably not, but at least he is eating and to me that’s all that matters. We also deal with the fact that with his diet we have poop issues. In the past six months we have managed to get him potty trained (thanks to his awesome teachers) well by that I mean he pee’s in the potty during the day. At night we are still in pull-ups because he has not mastered overnight bladder control and there is no bowel control. So when he needs to poop lets just say its still a mess. His system does not operate as yours or mine so it can be days, 7 to 14 days, without him going. Yes, he takes medicine daily to help out in this area, but his average is one good poo every 8 days. It’s painful and it’s massive!!! No one talks about this side of autism.
So this past weekend I will admit I was more than nervous about taking him with me while I went to visit my grandmother in WV. She has been ill and I knew taking all the little loves would be to much for her. My husband had made plans to take wild man up to his parents but seeing that my grandmother was ill, he agreed he would watch all of our other little loves while I took wild man with me. Wild man would get to see all of his grandparents and he was excited. He does not do well with change so the trip made me anxious. What if he refused to sleep? What if he would not eat? What if the car ride was to much? What is the surroundings were to much? I had hundreds of what if questions running through my head. We never know what will happen when we have him out. In fact we have secluded ourselves from many things,(family nights at school, trips to the mall, large family gatherings) because we know the stimulation will surely cause him a meltdown and its just not worth it if he will be in pain. But sometimes life can not be helped. And just when you think the worst, God gives you the best.
I can not believe the weekend we had. Wild man did such an amazing job. I had several people I wanted to met up with while I was in so I dropped wild man off to my in-laws. We sat and had a visit before I headed off to my next destination and when I got up to leave, guess what? He didn’t even scream. Praise Jesus. Not only did he spend the whole night with my in-laws he actually slept. I knew taking him place to place would be to much for him but thankfully my in-laws were able to watch him while I did. When I went to pick him up he showed me everything he had done while there. He showed me his “new office” and his race track that he had beat papaw on many times. He showed me his new cars and even his new favorite snack (pickled flavored chips) When it came time to leave, he did not cry instead he kissed them goodbye and said See you laters. We loaded up and went to met my parents and brother for breakfast, where he sat and ate his chips.
There was a baby that started to cry, but instead of having a meltdown he covered his ears until she stopped then said Shew that baby to loud. From there we went to my aunts to visit with her and my grandmother. He told me he was excited and that he could not wait to jump on her and give mamaw a big hug. I told him he would have to be easy. He took his lunchbox full of cars and freddy figures and followed my oldest daughter in the house. He quickly made his way over to grandma and very easily gave her a hug. My aunt was wonderful and let him roam from room to room exploring all the new wonders his eyes saw. He felt at home and that made me happy. He played with my cousins little ones and made his way over to set on my dad’s lap a time or two. For the first time in a long time I was not nervous about what he would do, he had this calmness about him that I don’t get to see often. Maybe he could sense mamaw was not feeling the greatest who knows. Or maybe the difference was that here, no one was looking at him and judging him, they were all just happy to see him. There he was not “the kid being loud” he was just my son. He was surrounded by people who love him all weekend long. He did not have to try and fit in with the social norm for there at my in-laws and at my aunts it was OK for him to just be himself. As our visit winded down and we started to say our goodbyes, wild man made it back over to my grandma. Before anyone could catch him he jumped (just as he said he was going too) into her arms and hugged her. I found myself apologizing and asking her if she was okay, and she just laughed. She smiled and said “He is fine don’t make a fuss” And you know what, she’s right. He is fine. Her smile said it all. He had made her happy.
As his mom my instinct is to protect him, as an autism mom my guard is always up. People judge him without knowing him and that makes me both mad and sad. They will never know the joy it is to be him mom. They will never know the endless love I have for him and all of his uniqueness. But my grandmother showed me something this weekend. She loved him for his heart, my whole family did. They did not care that he got a little loud, they were just happy to see him. I am thankful for their loving ways. What a great weekend we had.
From our beautiful chaos to ours when life is not going exactly like you pictured it, in the words of my wise grandmother Don’t fuss. Take time to enjoy the good for the bad days will get better, life is to precious to fuss about the small stuff. Smile and laugh your way through it all.