This weekend we went to Chattanooga for a visit with some close friends.
These are such dear friends and we have been known each other for a while
And yet I was a little nervous before leaving.
One of these friends has a daughter the exact same age as R- we went into labor at almost the same time
Sometimes meeting neurotypical children is a bit of a shock -
Especially when you have a child like R whose expressive speech is so severely limited
But these friends are have such open hearts for us ( with all our differences )that R is folded into this group completely and naturally
Many people say that when they enter into the special needs world - friendships die
For us however it seems like the good friendships have become stronger and the weak friendships have faded ( not ended .. just faded away )
As though Autism was kind of a filter that separated the wheat from the chaff
We planned best as we could - with written schedules etc
I braced myself for a shot of reality- for my bubble to burst
But all my fears are unfounded as R is an angel
Interested in everything
Well mannered and charming, affectionate and sweet
Here is R with his birthday friend E
E's mum whispers in my ear - your son has better manners than my daughter ( her daughter is a complete darling and a perfect doll but her casual compliment is music to my ears )
Really she is too wonderful and makes it a point to compliment R on all his special gifts -his reading etc
The trip starts really well as - the Creative kids museum is PARADISE for autistic children - filled with things to touch and feel
Water play, Magnets, Musical Instruments
We have dinner at Sticky Fingers and R is just awesome there as well- eating his Chicken Fingers with gusto
Sitting quietly in his chair ( only needing 1 or 2 bribes of Dum Dums ) and coloring ( poorly)
Then we go back to the hotel
The day has been so tiring that I am sure that R will burst into tears when we go out again
But here the power of the written schedule comes into being .. where its clearly written that the last thing on the list is Christmas lights
He simply LOVES Christmas lights. And he is ecstatic at the entrance of Rock City to see the giant Star
There is LOADS of walking inside but he has a blast
Unexpectedly-He even sits on Santa's lap
It seems this fifth year ( which BTW is supposed to be end of all developmental leaps ) in fact is showing promises of good things to come
Its the season of gratitude
My heart just brims with it
For friends who have stayed true and strong in spite of the road that life has taken us on
For wonderful friendships that we have found because of this journey
For a marriage that challenges have strengthened
For a child that continues to blossom well beyond what "Early intervention" folks would have us believe
This journey into special needs land is settling into an an unusual place.
A place of acceptance
An acceptance, that I once thought meant giving up
But which I now see as a lovely place of grace
A state of mind , a way of being, that is both charmed and practical
This is my new normal
And its a good place to be
I am just a mess of tears right now.
How on earth I would come to want to reach through the screen and share a moment with a "stranger's" family. You have touched me so deeply.
You know, I wasn't supposed to be able to communicate - to read or write well, to speak understandably. That language window closes at age 5, right? And yet profoundly deaf by age 4, my mother refused to allow that to stop what she knew and hoped I could do.
And I can honestly say it was because she cared, that I even tried.
Just look at him, he is BLOSSOMING. It's not an age thing.
Sigh - sending a hug.
(And soooo wishing I'd seen the Christmas lights - they are so special for me too!)
Wow. Yay for R, but yay for you too. Your optimism and positive energy are so inspiring. I get so mired in cynicism, sometimes it holds me back. Some of my friendships have ended (not faded!)...reading your blog makes me want to be a better person...
Simply beautiful, K. And, Rachel is right, R is blossoming. Reminds me of the old adage: Bloom where you are planted. :-)
I am beyond happy for your family!!! Remind me that when we get together this weekend (if nothing has come up) that there is a house on the other side of town with the most amazing Christmas lights. Well worth the drive to see them. They have videos on youtube so you can see what you think. I'm so glad you guys had a great trip!
I just found your blog and this is a beautiful post! I am amazed at your optimism and thankfulness. I spend too much time comparing, feeling sad and worrying. I needed this post now, at Thanksgiving!
"As though Autism was kind of a filter that separated the wheat from the chaff'
"E's mum whispers in my ear"
Yes, good friends. The ones who are there through the good stuff and the harder stuff, too. The ones who come close and whisper their support in your ear.
"An acceptance, that I once thought meant giving up
But which I now see as a lovely place of grace"
Great post. Amen to it all.
Great post. So glad to hear y'all had a good time. Oh, by the way, c loves dum dums now too. Every time he eats one I think of how much r loves them and I smile.
This is a beautiful post, I love your perspective on friendships and acceptance. I'm glad all of ya'll had a great time :).
We loved visiting Chattanooga and you're right, that children's museum is awesome! Bitty enjoyed the aquarium too and could have stayed there all day watching the fish and putting his hands into the stingray pool, but Cuddlebug and Bearhug were completely overstimulated there.
I agree, R really is blossoming. It's wonderful to see!
That was absolutely lovely, K.
Really liking your new normal.
Friends who can reach to a depth beyond what we are to 'who' we are, to find value because we breath air, they are substance right there.
My heart is enjoying them with you
I loved your last two sentences -
This is my new normal
And its a good place to be
Oh, I love this. Every word.
Beautiful. There are so many wonderful things in the post, but one that particularly jumps out for me is the one about the fifth year so NOT being the end of all developmental leaps! Our kiddos break the mold in so many ways, and that includes the timelines!
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