As parents we are always doubting ourselves when it comes to our kids. There are no manuals and every child is so completely different from the other especially when they have issues that other children never have to face. I know of what I speak. With six children I have learned much and each one has taught me in a completely different way. Yet, I also know about those deep, dark, slippery wells that you sometimes feel like you cannot climb out of when things are tough which often seems to be the case when your children have life impacting disabilities. It makes you question yourself and all you are doing to an even greater extent than ever before.
Paul struggles. He has autism and several other medical issues but his social skills are pretty much on track. Until you are around him for awhile you would probably never guess the extent of his issues and how they impact him everyday. But impact him they do. And our family too. Constantly.
Sometimes parents whose children have a disability find it hard to let go. Sending them to the store alone, even though it is just down the block, is terrifying when you know that your child is somewhat gullible and naive. But when the older teen years hit you realize that holding on too tight is a hinderance and not a help so you start loosening the strings. So recently Paul has been walking to the store by himself which gives him a sense of freedom that any 15 yo boy needs.
On Sunday Paul asked to go to the store. He had earned some money and wanted to buy himself a special snack… so off he went, hands deep in his pocket holding on to his hard-earned cash.
About 15 minutes later he returned with a perfect red rose in his hand which he shyly gave to me.
“I know I haven’t been treating you very well lately so I bought you a rose to show you how much I love and appreciate you”
I cried. He smiled and I think he knew that in giving me that beautiful rose he actually gave me so much more than just a flower. He let me know, that despite my mistakes and frailties as a parent, I really am doing something right by my kids. And even more importantly, I see him growing into a lovely young man who is doing good things like every decent and wonderful human being does on his own and without my help.
God, I love that kid!