It’s no secret that autism has affected our lives in many ways. The decision to have no more children, despite my dreams of a big family. The patience needed as I wait for my son to find his voice. The looks we get from strangers. The struggles with autism can be painful and defeating…for all of us.
There are days where Dawson and I can’t seem to find our groove. He whines and cries at me until I explore every possible option of what I think he may want. I try all food choices, I give him sensory input, I take him for a car ride. I give him 12 baths. Sometimes, that’s just not enough….and he just cries. We both cry.
Today, was the best day. A record day for us.
I’ve been waiting a very long time for this. 1,328 days to be exact. Every morning I wake up hoping that today is the day….and today it was. After 1,328 days of hearing my son cry atleast once (usually way more) a day…..we finally made it. We went an ENTIRE DAY WITH NO TEARS. (Well he did, I cried happy tears). He even took a little further…no whining!!!
As happy as I am to not hear him cry…it is so much more than that. So. Much. More. It was a whole day of happiness, understanding and pure joy. A day I have waited so long to have.
Can you imagine hearing your child cry every day of their life for 3.5 years? 1,328 days. As parents, when we hear our child cry, we react. I like to think that most of us try to fix the issue that caused discomfort. A bruised knee, an upset tummy, hunger, frustration with a toy….whatever the case might be, we never want to see our child upset. We go through the motions of bringing happiness to our crying child. But what if you had NO way of knowing what was making him cry? You have filtered through every food choice. You have changed their diaper and clothes. You have gone for a drive. You have snuggled and sang. You have done EVERY possible thing you can think of, and they still cry? Then what?
Well, at first, you just get by. You think ‘this will pass soon. It’s just a phase.’ Then a year goes by, and you wonder ‘why is my child always upset? Is this normal? Eh, I’ll wait it out. It will get better. It has to get better.’ More time passes and nothing changes. Now he’s almost 4 years old and you realize that he has literally been upset or bothered by something every single day of his life. Then it really starts to take an emotional toll.
You wonder what you could have done differently. Where did I go wrong? How could I create and birth this beautiful miracle…and not be able to bring him comfort and peace in his times of sadness? As a mother, as his mother, I should be the one person guaranteed to help soothe and comfort my son. It should come naturally. But it doesn’t. When you live through 1,328 days of watching your son struggle with sadness and frustration, and not be able to help him…you cant help but feel like a failure. Crying becomes habitual, and you start lose your confidence and ability to be a good mother. You barely get through your day, and you lay in bed wondering how in the hell you can do this again tomorrow, or forever. How much longer can you watch your child cry daily, and not be able to fix it?
But you wake up, and you get through each day, promising yourself to be a better mom than you were yesterday. You never give up, no matter how worthless you feel. You practice patience, compassion, understanding and love the best you can. You work harder and try your damn best to improve. You begin to realize that your motherhood is far different from most, and you continue to adapt to the needs of your very special child, hoping that one day you can finally say WE MADE IT!
After 1,328 days of crying…a lot of work, patience and love…we have reached a day where we were able to use communication (whatever form that might be) rather than tears. Even if this lasts just one day, and we go back to our normal tomorrow, this is a HUGE victory for us. For an entire day, using no verbal communication, we understood one another!
Sure, most days are hard and I question everything. But, tonight I get to go to bed with a smile on my face…Confident and optimistic that we are headed in the right direction!