My wedding anniversary is coming up. This has always been an important day for me. It marks the day I formalized the love I felt for my partner who became my husband in front of God and all our family and friends. We began a life I thought would go very differently than the one we ended up living. But I have to say, the one we ended up living is way better. It took us awhile to get to the point where we felt that way. Before then, there were good times, bad times, and uncertainty. We had autism come into our lives through Michael, and though we did not see it as that at the time, it saved us. It made us stronger as individuals, stronger as a couple, and stronger as parents. Michael truly opened up both our eyes as individuals and parents as to what is possible and about difference in general. And as hard as it is for us, we always remember that Michael is the one living with a very different brain in a world that may not always understand him or him it. He is braver than us yet has showed us to be brave too. It is a learning process for all of us. We teach Michael about the world, and he teaches us about ourselves and what is truly important. Together we move forward as a family and as a couple.
For many years when Michael was little, my wedding anniversary took a back seat. I don’t mean that I didn’t want or enjoy celebrating it, but that I worried a lot more about Michael than about how I marked it. I know Michael’s Dad felt the same. We enjoyed dinner and time together, but did not really understand or celebrate that we were a team, a force to be reckoned with in raising our son, an incredible human being that I know will do incredible things. We were just tired parents of special needs child looking for quality time together. Two years ago that changed for me. After suffering a burnout/depression, I thought I had failed as a wife and mother and person. I needed to rebuild me, one brick at a time. I took time to heal, to practice things that I needed to do to become whole again. I relearned about what made me tick after six years of being Michael’s mother, therapist, and cheerleader. I also relearned about the woman I was when I fell in love with Michael’s Dad. She was funny, creative, had a zest for life and loved music, family, friends, movement and writing. She loved being creative and doing creative things. She loved people, spirituality and life. She loved her husband and spending time with him. That creative, fun, carefree woman came back only stronger. She came back with the inner little girl child I had let lay dormant inside me for too long. This inner child said, you will find yourself if you take care of you and celebrate the whole you: the woman you were before you had an exceptional child with the woman you are now.
Exceptional Parents, how many of you are in relationships, but are not prioritizing it due to emotional and financial exhaustion? That is all a normal part of raising exceptional children. But just remember this. Our children were given to us for a reason, and if you let them, they can transform your life and your partner’s for the better. You will benefit, and your partner and your child will benefit from a you that is whole and remembers what and who it loved long ago and still loves now . Think of the incredible human being you have helped bring into the world, your child. Until next time.