Hi again! Today, I’d like to talk about something that happens to me. I ask questions. I ask many questions, often to the dismay of others. Sometimes it is silly stuff. “Why are good being transported by land called shipments, but by sea they are called cargo? Not really a question that keeps you up at night, but it is interesting to me and humorous.
“Why will Graham eat cheese sticks from Red Lobsters but not at home?”
“Why can I handle an adult screaming at me for twenty minutes, but my kid makes a sudden loud noise and I’m biting my tongue?”
However, today I want to talk about those questions that really do keep you up at night. The questions that have no good answer, take time to answer, and often are critical to have both to keep you from worrying yourself into an early grave. I am not going to pretend to be able to questions these questions. By their very nature, they are personal, and everyone must come to their own answer to feel satisfied. Nevertheless, maybe, this will help you in some way. Maybe you know there is an issue, but do not know how to phrase it into a question that makes since. I find that it helps to be able to express exactly how I feel. Maybe it can help you too.
“Why are all the songs I find annoying my son’s favorites?”
“Why do slow drivers in the left lane refuse to get over?”
First question I think is on the front of every parent’s mind. “Who will my child grow to be?” The job of a parent is like directing a play in many ways. You control everything that you can to have the best show possible. For a special needs parent, it is like not having an actual script to run with. It would be like directing RENT completely winging it. What makes this task even more daunting is the fact that, for many of us, it is our first go at directing period. There are far too many variables in play to be able to answer this question fully. You have your hopes. You have your dreams. But, at the end of the day, you have no freaking clue. It’s a question that is going to take time. And, when it comes to things like this, I have zero patience. I want to flip to the last page of this book and know the answer, but I can’t. That drives me freaking bonkers.
“Why will my child eat a grilled cheese and not a cheese quesadilla?”
“How is it that every evaluation room has the same dang toys? Is there a conference that they make this stuff standardized?”
Next, is one that hit me about point two seconds after I heard the words “Your child has moderate to severe autism.” “What did I do to God that he would throw this at me?” This question has an easy answer, but it still makes you mad. I call it a crisis of faith question. It’s when you battle with something that you believe, because you feel cheated, robbed, or even just attacked. That is what happened to me. I haven’t had the easiest of lives, and for this to be thrown on my plate makes me angry. I wasn’t supposed to have children. Now, by some miracle, I do. And, he is autistic. Remember King Midas from mythology. The golden touch that turned into a curse. That’s how I felt at first, and I often find myself still wondering about this when I have a hard day. The answer, of course, is nothing. I did absolutely nothing to God, the universe, or anything other being of power that they would inflict this upon me. Fact of the matter is, my life is so insignificant in the grand picture of everything that something of that magnitude wouldn’t even notice me. It doesn’tstop the question from hurting though. It is because I was angry and felt robbed, and ultimately was looking for someone or something to blame. I handle this question better, but in the dark recesses of my mind, it still creeps up to smack me on occasion.
“What is it about poop that makes my son want to smear it everywhere?”
“How long can I juggle husband, employee, special needs father, family member before I crumble?”
This leads me into another question. A question I haven’treally said out loud until the other night. “When Graham grows up, and looks back on his childhood, will he be okay with how I raised him? Will he hate me? Will he think I was a horrible father based on how I accepted him, disciplined him, and loved him?” Okay, I know that’s more than one question, but they tie together all right. This question is heavy. I can look back on my childhood and understand a fundamental fact. My father was human. He made mistakes. He didn’t always handle things like he should. And, I think deep down he knows that. I think deep down, this question still bugs him to this day. I think the fact that I can rationalize that he was but human is a testament to my raising. But, raising a kid like mine is different. My child my never understand the difference between anger and frustration. I don’t want him to think that I was angry at him all the time because I was frustrated by behaviors. How do you teach him that in the first place? When? Then there is the question “will he ever understand that I did the best I could?” I don’t know and it kills me. This is the question that will take time, and I fear my sanity hinges on the answer. There is no good answer right now. It won’t be until years have gone by that one might appear. I fear this answer the most. I want him to know I did my best, and I love him.
Isn’t that goal for every parent?
Goodness, I do not mean to reply to every unit I read, but this is sooo heavy, so thought provoking, so emotional. EVERY parent feels this about our children. None of us get directions, whether “normal” kids, autistic kids, ill kids, and none of us parent perfectly. EVERY parent makes mistakes, sometimes even horrible mistakes. Perhaps the ones who ponder these questions are among the best. You’re a very good Daddy, and Courtney is a very good Mommy. Graham will know. For me, being a parent helped me give my parents a little grace and understand that they also did the best they could, sometimes while being at a difficult spot in their own lives. It sounds like you are learning that, too. Know that you are loved beyond measure, by us and by God. He knows exactly where you are. Even though you are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, you are not so to Him nor us. ~sjm