After going all “woe is me” about the nature of my life yesterday, I realize that I don’t seem thankful for what I have. I very easily recognize the very real difference between my life and that of a truly unfortunate person. I have many blessings. My children–BOTH OF THEM–can be counted amongst them, because I know many people who try to conceive and, for whatever reason, cannot.
All that I said yesterday remains true. Life with Autism gets messy and complicated and sometimes heartbreaking. I mean, when your son asks to hold your hand and then bites it, that hurts emotionally, not just physically. When he asks to kiss you and does the same thing, you stop trusting him when he leans in for a kiss on the hard days. It hurts both of us, really. I flinch sometimes when he approaches me too quickly. He’s only 7 years old.
All of that being said, my life is far from devastating. Yesterday, I felt depressed and hopeless. I cried nearly all day. But on reflection, after a slightly better day, I can see the sparkly glitter of sunshine in my life. I want to be completely fair to my children and start with them. Squeaker gives the best hugs and loves to give kisses. He probably kisses my hand at least 15 times a day. In fact, he does it so often that Big Guy has taken to doing it as well. I love those sweet hugs and kisses they give me. At the end of a long day at work, that affection lifts my spirits. My kids love me unconditionally, just as I do them. Who could ask for more?
Then there’s their silliness. They make faces and laugh and sing silly songs. I also love to see them play together. They are three years apart, but they can play so beautifully together. Big Guy does really well with doing whatever Squeaker wants to do (classic older brother worship). Most of the time, Squeaker does really well protecting his little brother. Furthermore, when I compare them to a lot of the kids I’ve seen, they are so much more polite and respectful. I mean, Squeaker has his issues, but they are Autism-related. So, my kids really are pretty awesome when compared to most of the population.
Then, of course, I have my husband. He loves his children and plays an active role in their lives. Seeing him play with them is another huge spirit-lifter in my life. It sometimes gets a bit loud, but I love seeing them happy. When I’m having a bad day at work, he does his best to make it better. I can always count of him for an emergency pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. One day he brought me lunch at work to try to lift me up. We’ve had our differences and our trials, but I’m with a man who makes sure I know he loves me. We may fight, and all couples do, but at the end of the day, I know that he wants nothing more than to spend time with me. I have his love and devotion and he has mine, which means that we can solve any other issues that come up together because we’re in this together. How many other people have a marriage that solid?
My husband and I both have jobs that pay a decent amount of money with good benefits. In this economy, that means a whole lot. Sure, North Carolina legislators have no respect for teacher salaries and I haven’t had a raise in years. It could be worse. I get paid more than minimum wage, my insurance benefits aren’t terrible, and I can take time off when I get sick. Fortunately, my husband makes more than I do. Lord knows that if we both had a teacher’s salary, we’d never afford the things we need for Squeaker. We can barely afford them now. But, we can. We can do it. We figure it out. With some more budgeting, we’ll continue to figure it out. We’ll have to let some things go that we’re used to having, but needs mean more than wants. We’re fortunate to have the means to provide for our family.
Then, there’s family and friends and the services we have through Easter Seals, without which I’m not sure how we’d still have our sanity. I am truly thankful for those who have stepped in to provide us with respite when we’ve needed it. I’m not sure that my husband and I would ever get any time to ourselves if not for all of the wonderful people in our lives. We are blessed with so many. Many more than I ever imagined we would have a couple of years ago. On top of that, I have awesome supportive people in my life who recognize the rough days and either offer an ear, a shoulder, or a kind word. Who knows what I did to deserve so much kindness, but I certainly appreciate every ounce of it.
I could keep going on, but I believe I have listed the most important blessings in my life. You see, things might get hard, but there’s a reason I keep going every day. The good outweighs the bad, really. Some days I don’t see it because I feel like I’m buried under a pile of crap, but it’s there. It’s there. All of the good just sits there and waits until I’m ready to see it again.