The dictionary defines optimism as the “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something”. I believe I am an optimist, because I do believe as a mother that my children WILL lead independent and successful lives in the future despite their many challenges and struggles with Autism. We work together every single day for this to be accomplished.
Having said all of that, between my starting point of optimism and my final destination, there is a road I must travel along with my family. Most of the time that road is very bumpy, full of unexpected holes and cracks that we have to cross or avoid. It is very hard, we do not have GPS in our imaginary van, so we must use our own intuition and knowledge as parents of 3 boys on the spectrum to ensure our children’s trip isn’t too jerky or uncomfortable for them.
Sometimes after many years, months, days and hours of traveling, we find ourselves suddenly in the wrong road and we have no choice but take a few miles backwards and return back to this road to continue our voyage. Let me tell you, we have fallen down a few cliffs in the process in more than one occasion but luckily for us, we were able to put ourselves together quickly and continue on this journey because we haven’t reach our final destination just yet, as a matter of fact even though it has been 15 years, we are just starting the trip and this is the only road we are allowed to travel. There are no shortcuts.
Our boys are in the back of our van. Our oldest becoming more and more aware of all the things he is experiencing but our two youngest do not really know what is going on.
After being on the road for the past 15 years, we are beyond exhausted. I make no apology for it.
Do we feel the beautiful breeze hitting on our faces during this trip sometimes? Absolutely. We see gorgeous trees, a few multi-colored birds that delight us with their singing on occasion and even see a few lavender fields. All these things are little healing balms throughout our constant and unchanging journey. BUT, let’s hold on right there for just a second…
When you are experiencing the trip for more than a decade and I am not talking about if you are reading about the trip, if you work with people that experiences the trip, if you studied in college about the trip, if your aunt-cousin-friend of a friend went to the trip… no, I am talking about if *you* experience the trip every day, with not just one beautiful child but three is a different story altogether.
Now, don’t take me wrong. Does that mean we fail to see the little pieces of goodness here and there during our trip? No, of course not. We enjoy them, we appreciate them, we need them and we cherish them. Having said that and to be completely honest, I am usually stupefied when those who are not traveling the road or their own road is perhaps a little easier or they are just mere distant observers, want us, parents like me, to talk about our trip experience ONLY like if you are narrating a Disney story in Candyland where everything is good, nice, positive and where the Fairy-Godmother comes and grants you 3 wishes and solves all the problems of your trip.
Well, sorry to break it down to you. The trip isn’t Candyland and this isn’t a Disney story and we definitely don’t have a Fairy-Godmother. Maybe there are people who are uncomfortable to hear about the reality of the trip and they rather us to be plugged-in Matrix style and pretend everything is ice-cream and M&M’s. I refuse to fall in that trap. For people to know the reality of the trip and become helpers on this journey you must show them the truth, you must let them see how the trip is like in real life and not try to paint them something that it does not exist for all families on the spectrum.
My children are part of the trip but they are not THE trip and they will never be THE trip, they are innocent travelers who were placed on this road along with their family for some reason unknown to us all and they try their very best even in the middle or their own unawareness. Let us and let them (Without expectations or limitations) share our feelings, emotions and thoughts about the trip. The good, the bad and the ugly.
You see, observing the progress of these 3 little handsome boys behind my imaginary van makes me think that destination is perhaps not so far away or completely unreachable. And yes, I have my own fears and doubts just like you do but as soon as they enter my head, I try to shake them off quickly; I must not lose focus while on the trip.
The road hasn’t finished, I am still very exhausted but I am their driver and they are my favorite passengers. This trip is my entire life’s mission, there is no other goal that entertains my every thought, nothing could ever be compared to what it means to me to be able to reach destination with them.
So here I am, blogging from the road and driving.. Until those 3 boys reach safely.