Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Winding Road and Tangential Tracks lead to a Path of Promise

Every Sunday unless we are out of town or someone is really sick, we try and have a family meeting sometime in the afternoon.

The whole family is included and everyone is expected to attend and participate to the best of their ability. The meetings are intended to last about 15 minutes but often end up around the 30 minute mark.  We take turns leading and Justin has been the leader the past couple of weeks. Ryan's attention span at these meetings varies but he is generally on-task for the opening prayer, the free time when each of us get to speak and when we're going over the schedule for the upcoming week.

We have found as a family that the more we can aid in the boys in following routines and preparing them in advance for upcoming events, the less likely we are to face major issues when the scheduled event comes around. That doesn't mean there isn't a bit of moaning and groaning or bewilderment that we're planning to do something that has been scheduled for months but we like to think that our preparation is making at least a little bit of difference in the number of meltdowns and amount of defiance.

Honestly though, we all know that stuff happens.  Life does not adhere to routine. The best laid plans often go awry.  You can try and prepare, you can wear your SuperMom Cape or your SuperDad Tights but sometimes the air in the balloon is deflated, the batteries need charging and your best bag of tricks wouldn't help even Houdini.

Today "stuff" happened and we went through some of those moments.  In fact if I am to soberly assess our family, I would say that we go through many of those moments each week.  I've always considered myself a pretty patient person relative to my peers.  If you're a parent with a child or children on the autism spectrum, patience is a skill I would venture most continually have to work on.

Having my children has made me feel more spiritually connected. As I continue my journey as Mom and spectrum traveler, I am finding a spiritual connection with my boys that although not always in the forefront, will pop up with banner ads at the most unexpected moments.  Tonight it happened during a shared conversation with my oldest son where he poured his heart out to me over an issue where he was feeling conflicted.

I am learning to appreciate the little things in life more and to be grateful for the opportunities and blessings given to us.  I still have conflict, doubt, baggage, faults, fears and a wide range and cycle of ever-changing emotions but I also have hope and faith and that hope and faith is stronger than all the other stuff combined.  I also have belief in a higher power.  

Long before Justin and Ryan, I was a kid once too. (My boys find this hard to believe but I have pictures as proof!)  When I was in elementary school, I used to volunteer occasionally as a student helper in a special education classroom. When I was in 8th grade, a classmate and I had special permission to leave the junior high campus for a certain time during the day to be teacher's assistants in a special education classroom in a nearby elementary school.  What a rewarding experience that was! 

Positive memories of those times have come flooding back to me recently.  I am also reminded of when I transferred majors and universities so that I could study Child and Family Development at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.  One of my first internships? Being an aide in a preschool that had some kiddos with special needs. At the time, I thought I wanted to become an elementary school teacher or maybe a family counselor but life changes happened and that was never ended up being my career path.

I think perhaps God had something different in mind for me... and those experiences of acceptance and inclusion were preparation.  Did I know that I would someday be the Mom to two boys with Autism / Asperger's? Of course not. Did I know that I was a fellow traveler too?  Not in a million years.  I knew I was quirky and I knew I was gifted.  Back then I had lots of questions about my adoption, my life path and my relationships. I wondered if there was a fit for me in this world, a place I truly could be myself.  Often without realization, I gravitated to other quirky, whimsical and offbeat people.  In our shared feeling of not belonging or not being true to our real selves, we felt a sense of belonging. We marched to the beat of our own drums but we were still in the same band.

In retrospect, it was like I was a magnet to having life connections with people also making their way unconventionally.  I can think of many people that I had some sort of bond with that might be somewhere on the spectrum.  I think I gave off some sort of trusting vibe...  Conversely, I think I must have had repellent on for a different base of the population, primarily female.  

I just noticed that I'm taking the tangential track again because what I had started to blog about is not what I am currently writing about and yet, even the fact that I strayed off course ties right in with a point I wanted to make.

I believe I have been around people on the autism spectrum my whole life and it helped prepare me for self-acceptance and self-realization of the neurological variance that my children and I all share.  Even though I may have started off going one way (trying to be a part and fit in with the neurotypical lifestyle checking out different map routes) and found myself at times hopelessly lost, confused and flustered, I am now traveling the path I was meant to be on... or at least I'm making strides in the right direction!

Although I don't know what twists, turns and huge hikes are ahead for me and I'm sure that whatever I'm in for is bound to be the road less traveled, the journey I'm on now has a much more genuine path because I am Mom to the two boys I was meant to be connected with all along. It may be a rocky road without the hot fudge and cherry on top but it is still a path of love, hope and faith.

Tonight was the 20th anniversary of my first date with John.  It was a chance meeting we had and we are people with many differences but that first meeting brought us to where we both are today... with hope, faith, two delightful and amazing sons and more life in front of us yet explored. Let's journey!

Although I am going through a lot of challenges, it is on nights like this that I am hopeful and try to remember that the path of adversity I already faced and survived, the blocks I stumbled over and the crap I waded through all led me to the woman I am today.  Although I'm fallible, figuring out my way and have a lot of qualities I want to improve on... my husband is by my side, my children are with me, I have a wonderful family and I have hope in God for my future.

I also have my Aspierations friends!  Shout out!  (You can shout back... just do it nicely in the comments section below!)

May you have a wonderful week ahead and through your adversity and tears, may you find strength and courage!

A friend along the path,

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