There have been a million times, since your diagnosis, that I have wondered who you would have been without Autism.
The thought used to consume my mind. I grieved for the life I thought you were going to have.
When I was pregnant with you, I had dreams of what our lives would look like.
In my dreams, you did it all. You played T-Ball, Soccer, and Hockey. Instead we have dozens of therapies to attend to each week.
I dreamed of being the class mom and making homemade treats for your games. Instead I have parent trainings and IEP meetings.
I dreamed of a house always filled with you and all your friends. I dreamed of hearing dozens of laughing boys running up and down my halls. Instead it is quiet and, sometimes, lonely.
I dreamed of block parties.
I dreamed of you falling in love.
I dreamed of your wedding, your college graduation, your babies being born.
I couldn’t wait.
Then there was autism. Then there was a doctor telling me she didn’t know if you would ever be able to communicate. She didn’t know if you would ever live independently.
I thought to myself, how will you fall in love and have babies if you can’t live independently?
How will you play t-ball and soccer if you can’t communicate or understand the coach?
As I thought about these things, I began to realize that my dreams might look different now.
I began to research. I spent all day and night learning about autism, therapies, treatments, anything I could find.
I didn’t know what your life would look like. I couldn’t picture it anymore.
Dreaming of your future used to be my favorite thing and suddenly it was the scariest.
When I think about all the things that autism has stolen from you, it breaks my heart.
For all the time I had spent thinking about who you would be without autism, it occurred to me recently that I had never considered who I would be without Autism.
Who would I be without you, my little bear?
My sweet boy, you have taught me to celebrate each win. So many people overlook the small things, but in our house we celebrate them all.
You put on your shoes.
You went to the potty.
You put your plate on in the kitchen, all by yourself.
We celebrate because you have taught me how special those moments are.
Without you, I would miss so many wins.
You have taught me to believe in miracles. Once upon a time, a doctor told me you might never speak. Now every time you tell me you love me; it is a miracle.
Every time you say mommy, it is a miracle.
Without you, I wouldn’t believe in miracles.
You have taught me to give kindness to strangers.
When the woman at Starbucks rings up my coffee wrong, I show her kindness.
When the boy at the store is screaming loudly and his mama can’t calm him down, I show them kindness.
When a stranger is having a bad day, I do my best to give them kindness.
I do my best to show them the kindness that I hope the world will show you.
Without you, I would lack kindness in my heart.
Without you, I may sleep in a bit longer.
I may worry a little less.
I may have a little more free time.
But without you I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
You have changed my life in ways I never would have imagined. Autism has shaped me.
Because of you, I celebrate the wins.
Because of you, I believe in the miracles.
Because of you, I know the true meaning of love.
I don’t know who I would be without you and for that I am so grateful.
The best thing about me is that I have you.
I will still miss the conversations I dreamed of us having.
I will still miss the dozens of little feet that are not running through our house.
I will still worry about what the future will hold.
But I am so glad I will never know the son that I was dreaming of, because you my darling, are so much better than I could have ever imagined.
Your laugh is the greatest sound I have ever heard.
Your voice is my absolute favorite.
Your hugs can repair even the worst of days.
My beautiful boy, I love you more than all the stars in the sky.
I am grateful for each part of you, just as you are.
I am grateful for the hard because without it I wouldn’t appreciate the good.
Being your mom is the best thing I will ever do.
You are better than I could have ever dreamed.