In life, you are presented with two types of family – the one you’re born into and the one you build.
My entire childhood was plagued with abuse and trauma, so as an adult, all I desperately wanted was to break that cycle and create a ‘normal’ and loving family of my own.
One that provided my future children with joyful core memories and a carefree existence rather than an upbringing that would require therapy to recover from.
God had seemingly answered my prayers when He blessed me with one son and one daughter who were happy and healthy.
However, when my son turned 3, I received the devastating news that he was severely autistic coupled with the grim prognosis that he would likely never communicate verbally or function independently.
Initially, panic set in.
I knew at that very moment, parenting him would require significant patience, strength, resilience and confidence – all traits I felt ill-equipped to provide based on my lack of ever having those behaviors modeled or demonstrated to me.
Admittedly, I was also overwhelmed and angry that God had dealt me another unfair hand.
But somewhere among the countless therapy sessions, medical appointments, stacks of forms to fill out and insurance appeals to write, I recognized that we were not just surviving but thriving!
Instead of harsh words and stinging criticisms, my children receive limitless praise and support.
Replacing the rage, impatience and proverbial eggshells scattered throughout my childhood home are the smiles, laughter and silliness of a family whose bond and emotional connection is unbreakable.
I’ve proudly raised my children to be polite, kind, smart, loving, funny, resilient and confident in themselves.
So, while my parenting journey has been at times bumpy, often requiring that I navigate uncharted, unrelatable terrain, I have come to understand that motherhood has been the teaching tool and most important role I didn’t realize I needed.
One that God had prepared me for all along.
Raising a child with autism has given me the opportunity to view the world differently – through my son’s eyes, and to recognize that God gives us what we NEED instead of what we WANT as a means of illuminating our ultimate purpose.
Without that shift in perspective, I may have missed the true beauty or purposeful life lessons that have come from the challenges and unknown.
I now trust in the fact that my life experiences are always teaching me something and preparing or connecting me to what has yet to come.