There will come a point when I have to answer to you, at least on some level, for all of this– how I raised you, the choices I made, the path chosen. I hope you’ll look at me with the same compassion I gave to my parents– two desperately, flawed beings, trying to do the best they could… The reality is you may or may not look on me with compassion, and I will have to accept it, whatever it may be.
I want you to know I did all of this for you, with love, care, and lots of sleepless nights. It’s not easy to raise children. Honestly, before I ever became a mother, before there was even a spark of you, I would joke to others saying, “Some people have great plans for their kids. In this day and age, I just hope my kid doesn’t end up in jail or off on some twisted path of self-destruction.’ I joked about it because I could. Because, I was strangely familiar with my own twisted path of self destruction.
Once you came along and reality set in– parenting in all its glory– I stopped with the bad jokes, and started to really search inwardly for the kind of mother I wanted to be to you and for the kind of man I hoped to raise. I closed my eyes to see you in the future, and envisioned a man comfortable in his own skin, happy, content, loved. That was my dream for you. Sure, there were other, smaller, ideas in my head– baseball, scouts, traveling around, showing you all the wonders I had discovered. I, personally, despite my darkness, have seen such beauty in life. The human spirit never ceases to amaze me, and our ability to come back from anything has been my inspiration for years and years. I wanted to show you that. I wanted to instill a hope and truth in your heart that could not be shaken. So, that’s where I started. That was, and still is, my dream for you.
I don’t know what you think of all this– our life. I don’t know if the choices I’m making today are going to be the right choices even a year from now. There’s so much I don’t know, and because I don’t know I research. I study you — yes son, I spend so much time studying YOU. I’m your mom. It’s one of the things I do. While we’re playing, I’m there with you, laughing, enjoying the person you are, and I’m also assessing. I’m assessing everything: the way you ask me questions, the way you express yourself, play with toys, interact with others, your anger, moods, everything down to your bowel movements. Yes. Those too. One day you may read this and say, “You were paying attention to all of that? I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know.” I don’t want you to know. I want you to be a kid. I never want you to feel like you’re under a microscope. But, yes, I am doing all of that.
I’m also learning as I go, and making tons of mistakes. I’m sorry for those. I’m sorry for forcing you to do things you weren’t ready to do. Oh, yes, some people will say that’s what parents do– they push their kids. Autism is different. Yes, I push you. I also did things out of ignorance that wasn’t pushing you– it was traumatic and unnecessary. I’m sorry for restraining you to brush your teeth, to get haircuts. I’m sorry for holding you down for those doctors. I’m sorry when you screamed for me to save you, and I didn’t. You don’t understand. I had too, right? I had to help them help you, and you wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t lay there, and let it happen. So, I helped them. I watched you lose trust in me. I watched you hide from me, and it broke my heart. But, in the words of Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we do better.” I stopped restraining you. You brush your teeth. I stopped restraining you, and I cut your hair. I don’t work for the hospital– I don’t help with that anymore either. I had to learn, kiddo. You had to teach me. Boy, did you ever teach me– you have taught me more than I have ever taught you.
So, when you’re looking back, making your own assessments of the choices I made for you, know it wasn’t perfect, nothing ever is….it was just us, together, learning as we go, doing the best we could, and loving one another.
All my heart,