February 24, 2010

To Jake's Mom

There is a wise woman I know -- a Texas gal a bit to the South of me -- who has three kids, including a son, Jake, with autism.

She is one of the fabulously amazing moms I have met through the Internet. It was years ago, when I was seriously pregnant with my daughter and so worried about my son.

We have corresponded throughout the years -- sometimes sporadically, sometimes with great frequency.

Did I mention she is wise?

Years ago, when my son was about three, and my daughter just one, and I was in the midst of my "why my child/why my family" phase, she told me something that made me pause. She told me she had plenty of her own dark days due to autism. Lots of tears, lots of stress, lots of anger, etc., etc. But somewhere along the way she began to quit thinking in terms of the future and to live in the present.

She said she reached a point where she could pray and thank God "for Jake exactly as he is."

What powerful words.

What a simple concept.

And, yet, there I was -- my daughter still didn't sleep through the night; my husband worked horrible hours; my son was struggling,and biting.

And I was not there, not yet.

Oh, the guilt. What kind of mother couldn't listen to that statement and think, "Oh, yeah, I am thankful for my child, just as he is."

Well, my dear friend, your words stuck with me.

And I want you to know that I reached that point -- I reached it a while back, actually.

It is a wonderful feeling.

And as you would say, I, too, still throw my hands up at the unfairness of it all. My son has the purest heart, and no child should have to struggle as he does. I would do just about anything to hear him talk.

But he has taught me so many things.

That there is no such thing as a "small" accomplishment.

That the most important joys are the simple ones.

That you can love a person with your entire heart and soul without the exchange of a single word.

And, most of all, just as Jake has done for my friend, my son has taught me the most important lesson of my life ...

What it truly means to be a mother.


  1. I'm so, so close to this!! I can feel it coming and though I desperately need to finally make my peace, I still have a little bit of unfinished business I have to tend to before I am there. Hoping once we are done with this last round of testing I can enter that phase of life.

  2. I can totally relate. My life got so much better when I reached that point. Autism definitely puts EVERYTHING in perspective and as an autism mom, it sure feels good when you "get there." Evan teaches me every.single.day!

  3. Well, D, I think we all have our steps backward, even after we get to the "thankful for my child just as he is" point. I know I certainly do. I still have moments and days I wish I could do-over. My son is having lots of behavioral issues these days that he didn't previously have -- problems I always was grateful I didn't have to deal with (like BOLTING in stores and parking lots). It will always be frustrating, but I really had some dark days when he was about 3. I can look back and know that I am so very far away from those days and there is no going back!! :) I have no doubt you are a model of strength for all mothers who are blessed to know you personally.