Dear Awesome Autism Dad,
I cannot imagine the pressure you go through every day. You want to be a good provider, a good father, a good husband, so you do everything. When I get tired, you’re there offering the respite we never got from our service provider. If I need a nap, a hug, a break…you’re there, offering your support. Without question, autism dad, you are there for me. For us. We never dreamed our lives would turn out this way. Two kids, a marriage, and some pets, maybe, but when we dreamed of having children together, they always wanted to do things with us. We imagined growing old together, seeing our two kids off to college one day, and living life in relative prosper. Instead, we are thousands of dollars in debt, paying bills to medical providers only to have more come in, and wondering what adulthood will look like to our older child. I imagine that you, autism dad, feel stressed about the bills we pay, the constant calls from school, and your always exhausted wife. You are not forgotten, though. Even though you rarely complain, I know you’re there. I see your love for me and our children. I see how hard you try to keep the our lives from falling into pieces. You’re the glue that holds our family together when I feel unglued. You, autism dad, are awesome.
Together, we make a great team. We tag team on school phone calls, meetings, pick-up from school and daycare. Together, autism dad, we conquer the routines. We make dinner happen as a family, we enforce manners, we break up sibling spats, we deal with the dreaded part of bedtime known as toothbrush time, and we put the boys to bed separately, then switch for hugs and kisses. At the end of the day, we sit down on the couch together, exhausted, and sigh. We’re both tired. I know that. So, on the weekends, we switch off on who gets to sleep in. We take this family thing and make it work, even if that means doing things differently than other families. I cannot do it without you, autism dad. You’re what makes us feel secure, loved, and protected, even when you feel more tired than you’ll ever let on. I see you there, cooking dinner with our youngest while I do homework with our oldest, and I marvel at your strength and energy. Many marriages these days fail, and many more fail when parents are raising a child with autism, but you and I hang in because we’ve got each other’s backs. We do what it takes.
I appreciate you not just being here, but really being here. Our children know that you are their father, but more importantly, they know that you are a constant in their lives. They know that their dad is fun to hang out with, that he makes them laugh, that he makes terrific meals, that he gives the best hugs, and that he’s proud of them. I see both of our children beam when you tell them you’re proud–whether if it’s because of a good day at school or because of learning something new. They know you love them. They know you’re always here for them. And so, awesome autism dad, I leave this note saying that you mean the world to us. Although you endure the stresses of life quietly, you are not forgotten. We love you and we’re so lucky you’re a part of our lives.