Sometimes people look at me with pity when they see me with they see me with Squeaker or hear that he has autism. Physically he looks like everyone else, but his behaviors do make him stand out sometimes. At other times, you can’t tell he’s different from any other child though. He’s really a very attractive boy–handsome with a brilliant smile–and his personality makes him shine even more. So there’s no reason to feel pity for me. In fact, if not for my son, I would see the world in a much different lens than I do now, and he’s made me a better person in so many ways.
In fact, I can name…
4 Surprising Ways My Son Has Made Me a Better Person
- Patience. When you have children, you need patience. I had almost none before I had him. As he grew up and the meltdowns started, I not only needed the normal amount of patience that I had to build up before, but I needed extra patience. Patience enough to endure long meltdowns and talk him through it. I credit him for my patience as a teacher, too. I’ve learned to carefully measure my words and my actions. He’s just made me better all around.
- Love. You don’t know real love until you have children. Cradling your child in your arms, you’re suddenly, intricately tied to this one little person. As my children get older, I realize they show me even more love. And Squeaker shows love infinitely more than one might imagine. He rubs my back. He kisses my hand and my cheek. He simply wants me, The Manager, and his brother to know he loves us. When people say that a person cannot have autism because they show affection I look at them like they have three eyes–my son shows plenty of affection. Autism doesn’t mean no love. In fact, this kid probably has more heart than a lot of kids.
- Selflessness. When you care for someone with Autism, you learn how to give of yourself completely. You also learn how take breaks and take things as they come, but you learn what it means to put another person first and what you get from that. Honestly, that comes with raising any child, though. If you’re a mom, when’s the last time you went to the bathroom by yourself? Yeah, you know what I mean. Well, guess what? My son also knows how to give of himself. You know why? He sees it every day. So he will hear me say something like, “Gosh, sure wish I had my glasses,” and he darts off to the bathroom to get my glasses. Why? He wants to please me just as much as I please him. That’s how I know we’re doing it right.
- Thankfulness. I’ve always had difficulty giving thanks for the small stuff. Okay. I’ve even had trouble giving thanks for the big stuff. Thankfulness never was my strong suit. Then I look at Squeaker. This kid stands up at church when the pastor asks for any news or blessings for the week and he wants to tell everyone that he got a new pair of pants. Or he’ll want to announce his brother’s birthday. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know he’ll do it because that’s just something he does. He gives thanks. He finds joy in the small stuff. He squeals with delight when he receives a magazine at school. If I could bottle up that joy and thanksgiving, I might always feel happiness in my life. I try to find that same pleasure in my life along with him and take up his example. It’s one we could all live by, right?
I don’t feel shorted at all by my son. Every year of his life, I feel more fulfilled. I feel more and more blessed. In fact, I wonder if he realizes how much he means to us. He’s a wonderful person and he’s meant for great things. As he grows and develops into this person that we never even imagined he could be, I recognize that he’s taught me one more thing.
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- Dream Big. Never limit your expectations–whether you’re talking about yourself or another person. A long time ago, before Squeaker had a lot of words and before we realized how far he’d go, we got asked these questions by professionals like, “where do you see your son…” and “what do you want for your son…” and we had no idea how to answer. We felt pretty limited. Maybe he’d grow up and work as an auto mechanic because he likes cars, we thought. There’s nothing wrong with that profession and people who work on cars make money. We went to college and before the diagnosis our dream for him would’ve been college, but that’s not what popped into our heads anymore–we felt doubt. Now that we know better we answer, “Whatever he wants to do.” The sky’s the limit, right? Even if your child cannot speak now or cannot move like other children, you cannot possibly measure the depths of your child’s intelligence or how far they’ll grow yet. Dream big. Never limit.
In What Ways Have Your Children Changed Your Life For the Better?