I’ve heard it a thousand times. I have read the facts and seen it in real life. It might be true for some people….but not us. We won’t be another statistic. We are damn good parents, and if anyone can do this, it’s definitely us. Our parenthood is kinda-sorta like having typically developing children (except it isn’t AT ALL) so, no need to worry about us. We are rocking this autism parent game. There is absolutely no way anything could happen to our marriage.
Until it did.
The first couple years were about survival. We did what we could to make it through a day. This is not an understatement. Dawson cried all damn day, and by the time Randy got home from work- I was done. I completely checked out. I didn’t go do anything with friends or family, but as far as mom duties go, I was only in charge of Emmy…which hardly counts as parenting, in comparison to Dawson.
The weekends were slightly different. There were events and birthdays in which I would rather saw off my own finger with a butter knife than take my son with autism to attend. (Okay, that was dramatic, but the thought may have crossed my mind). So, I would take Emmy while Randy stayed home with Dawson. We had finally found a way that could work for everyone! Emmy and me (total extroverts) were able to escape and mingle while Randy and Dawson (introverts) could remain at home, in their comfort zone. We had found our groove and it seemed to be working well.
Or so we thought.
We did this for almost 3 years! Want to know what else we did for three years? We grew apart. We were so accustomed to our version of parenthood, it became normal. Looking back, it was far from normal. My husband and I never went on dates. Literally, never. How could we possibly go on a date? Who would watch Dawson?! Who could we trust to care for him in such a way that would compare to how we did? Nobody. The dates we did go on were rushed and lacked marital intrigue. We discussed our life as parents, Dawson, more about parenthood, more about Dawson. We didn’t do anything as a family of four, except holidays. Even those, we wished we could have gotten a hall pass on. They were overwhelming, stressful, exhausting. The point is, Randy and I spent absolutely no time together.
I still don’t know how we made it through the most difficult years of our lives…but if I had to take a guess. It was because Randy and I put our children above all else. Even each other. I became a stay at home mom so that nothing else could distract me from my kids and their best interest. I fought for Dawson and fell into a role I never expected, all while somehow managing to raise the kindest little girl who never ceases to amaze me. Randy went to work everyday and provided me and the kids with everything we needed…then he came home and put whatever energy he had left into our children. He really is the best dad, and I’ll never say otherwise….but our focus on the kids, greatly took a toll on our marriage.
We became roommates. We hardly even spoke to each other….and most of the words exchanged were about the kids. I take it back. All of our conversations were about the kids. We never fought, but as husband and wife, we had been over for quite a while….though neither of us waned to admit that we had failed. We were supposed to prove the statistics wrong. We wanted to be the couple that could handle raising a child with special needs, together.
But we couldn’t. And I am at peace with that.
Here’s the thing about marriage. They say that it should be hard work and you should never give up. You made vows to last a lifetime, and nothing should stand in the way of that. Yeah, that’s probably true for typical marriages, with typically developing children, leading typical lives. We don’t fit that mold, clearly. And don’t think for one second we didn’t try. Because we did.
Since moving out in March, Randy and I have been able to co-parent wonderfully, as I hope to do for the rest of our lives. The first couple weeks of the separation were difficult on Dawson (as well as the rest of us), but he seems to be adjusting to this huge lifestyle change extremely well. And Emmy. My sweet girl. If I am being honest, she saw the divorce coming long before I did….
Randy and I were dealt a hand that you can never prepare yourself for. I know it might seem like it’s not that hard, but it is. It’s really fucking hard. I gave up my identity in order to be Dawson’s mom. I wouldn’t go back and do things differently, because he is getting exactly what he needs now. But, I will say that in doing so, our marriage was the ultimate sacrifice. NO. I am not saying that my child with autism caused our divorce. That was entirely our fault. We didn’t take the time to focus on each other, or ourselves. We gave, and will continue to give Dawson (and Emmy) every piece of us, and because of that- he will have a damn good future. He is set up to receive the equipment, tools and services he requires for life success…and I will NEVER apologize for that.