Today I was thinking about how life could have been… if I’d never been your mother. A mother to a child with autism.
When pushing through the daily challenges that present for a child on the spectrum, the default position is to dwell on the hard stuff.
I get hurt sometimes. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.
While none of it is intentional, it sucks to be bitten or kicked by my kid.
While none of it is intentional, it sucks that some of my mum friends live completely unrelatable lives.
While none of it is intentional, it sucks that my little boy cannot say he loves me. Cannot call me “mum”. Cannot say his own name.
And while I have certainly spent some time in that default position. Victim. Overwhelm. Exhaustion. Without having been dragged unwillingly and unwittingly through what can only be described as life’s greatest wake-up call, I can only find gratitude in my heart for all of it.
Is it what I expected from motherhood? Nope.
Is it what I planned? Hell nope.
But you know they say ‘life is what happens while you’re making plans’ and my experience has been that I can’t ask the universe for a big life and then complain when it gets delivered in strange wrapping paper.
Who am I to want to experience everything the world has to offer, and then turn up my nose at the first big challenge that is presented to me?
How arrogant! For me to think that I have no life lessons to learn. Or that I should get to choose in which manner I should learn them. Get a grip Anna!
How humbling to learn that everything in my life offers an opportunity for growth. And the larger the challenge, the more meaningful and extraordinary the growth.
My evolution has been clumsy, fulfilling, embarrassing, terrifying, humbling, delightful and uplifting. And I’ve barely even gotten started.
Just as the Tao Te Ching explained. Teaching a child the wonder of the simple things in life, means that the extraordinary will take care of itself. This principal applies to me tenfold.
While some mothers are focused on matching cushions and annoyed about missing the latest episode of The Batchelor, I have learnt to hone my skills in surrender and presence.
I have learnt to practice gratitude for the minutia.
I probably have acquired a diploma in ‘not sweating the small stuff’.
In the space of ten minutes I can experience the sickening horror of my child escaping out the front door closely followed by the wild euphoria of seeing my child attempt a new skill like putting on a sock. I’ve always loved rollercoasters and now I am being gifted a ride equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.
While I will never pretend that this life is easy. I remind myself that nothing worth having ever is. That life isn’t supposed to be easy. And if it is then we’re probably missing the point.
If there are no ups and downs it probably means I’m dead right? Or pretty close to it. Certainly not LIVING.
My ability to experience joy is inversely proportional to my ability to experience pain.
If I had never experienced heartbreak, fear, disillusionment of my sweet child living with a debilitating disability, how would I ever experience the heights of joy, gratification and relief that I have. To say nothing of all the breakthroughs we both still have to come.
Some women never get this chance.
Some women are never gifted with being hit by the freight train of life going ‘Not As Planned’
Many humans sleepwalk through their lives on auto pilot.
Never hearing the call to look beyond the superficial and irrelevant.
Never recognising the great beauty that exists in a simple smile. Or the way you reach out to hold my finger.
So, I say to you by beautiful boy. My darling heart. My firstborn child.
A million times thank you.
For waking me from the slumber of an ordinary life.
For teaching me what I don’t know, that I don’t know.
For shooting down my presumptive plans for control over every aspect of my life.
For gifting me with the opportunity to set my precious ego aside and see what lies beneath.
For allowing me to learn that autism is not good or bad or easy or hard. It just is. It is a neutral label onto which I can project gratitude or hatred.
To really see what I can hold. To see what I really am capable with. To really experience a big life.
Without you, I’d still be focussed on the matching cushions, and wouldn’t that be the biggest tragedy of all.