I have time for this like a hole in the head. But, inspiration struck, and I couldn't shake it.
People say to me ALL THE TIME stuff like "I have no idea how you do it; I could never do it" or "you have the patience of a saint" or they offer condolences or hugs or sympathy. I humbly appreciate and do my best to accept all, but I don't really need them.
Lest I sound ungrateful, allow me to me explain.
Of course folks don't know how I do it, just like I don't know how they do their amazing feats of parenting or navigating life. Both are VERY hard and don't have a roadmap. I can tell you how I do it (and if you really want to know, ask me privately...any time!), but the really more important part is that you can and would do the same exact thing...even if you didn't think that you could or even if you didn't think that you wanted to.
Take, for example, the colicky baby (had one of those, too, and thank GOD it was only one). People say they couldn't stand that or couldn't deal. Of course they would. It's your baby, for goodness sake. You have to feed it, change it, and bathe it, just like any other baby. The fact that it never shuts up is maddening, exhausting, and depressing, but you take care of it just like any other baby. You just go without...without sleep, without calm or quiet, without clean laundry, without sanity, without a shower. Whatever. You do it because you have no choice.
Having an ASD kid is the same thing. You've gotta take care of that kid. No one likes an asshole. When your kid acts like one (whether or not s/he has autism), you do whatever you can to de-asshole-ify him/her. When your kid throws a toy at another kid's head, you take that toy away, put your kid in time out, talk to your kid, whatever. You DO something about it. Autism is exactly like that. Different scale; same principle. The harder the kid, the more the work; the harder the tasks, the greater the reward. When that colicky kid finally shut up, do you remember how awesome you felt?!? Same thing with an ASD kid; you just have to do a lot more work for that same feeling. But, work is work. Life is life. Kids are kids. Hard is hard.
I don't have patience. I have peace and support. Two very different things, my friend. I lose my shit. I yell. I get frustrated. Oh well. That's life. Life ain't always rosy all the time. Lots and LOTS of people are going to yell at and be frustrated with my kids during their lifetimes. If they experience that first with me, someone who loves them immeasurably and unconditionally, perhaps it won't hurt so bad when someone else does it. And, that, my friend, is what therapy is for, and I'll find them the very best there is available; I promise! ;) I'm humanly imperfect, and I do the best I can. Just like you.
As for hugs, sympathy, and condolences...Hugs are always nice (unless you have an ASD). I don't really need sympathy. My dear friend who has stage 3 pancreatic cancer probably does. My friend who just lost her bestie to stage 4 colon cancer definitely does. My dear friend who's husband died unexpectedly at a young age and left her widowed with two young boys may have. My friend who's had to watch her baby endure countless surgeries might. A family with autism doesn't. What they do need is your genuine understanding. If you can't give that, and it's REALLY okay if you can't (nobody likes a faker), then don't say that you can. We can tell the difference. Our kids are the ones with social impairments, not us. Condolences? Nothing bad has happened to me or my baby. She's healthy and smart and beautiful and funny and creative and talented and way cool. I'm her momma. How lucky am I?! She requires some extra work, sure, but can't we all stand to work a little harder? Hard work always yields a greater reward. And, by reward, in this instance, I mean a child who can function in an age- and socially-appropriate fashion. That, for me, is the holy grail. That my hard work might someday (or currently) yield that result is the most amazing gift in the world. To watch those things occur over time in a non-spontaneous fashion as the result of really hard work renders a sweetness that is incapable of description.
Now, there's also this whole business of "God only gives you what you can handle" and "God saves the hard ones for the special people." I'll let the theologians wrangle with these. But, secularly and subjectively, I can tell you that I needed this kid. Something awful. I spent a LOT of my life doing stupid shit for the wrong reasons because I didn't know who I was and couldn't figure out who I was supposed to be. 4A smacked me upside the head and made it all clear. Thank GOODNESS I did get her. I can't imagine what a mess my life would be if I hadn't. If by "special," you mean that I'm better equipped to handle this than you, you are so wrong. I don't know what the hell I'm doing, but her doctors do, and I know how to listen. As for the courage to listen and do, well that comes from something WAY beyond me. And, that, too, is a subject for a private conversation.
So, my daily life and existence isn't really so much different than yours. I have to do all the same stuff that you do as a parent and a person. Sometimes I just have to do it more frequently or in different ways. But, as my Thai sister-in-law says, "It's same-same."
We're talking about WAY more than making lemonade outta lemons here, my friend. We're talking about seeing and describing those lemons as little nuggets of gold that you get to hold and keep and cherish and struggle with and cry about. Whether or not they turn into lemonade ain't really the point.