I can remember my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten – 5-years after Mike was diagnosed. I was standing amongst the other mothers watching our babies, in their Catholic school uniforms, embark on their first day of school. We ALL had tears in our eyes but my tears were different. While I was emotional about my daughter’s transition to Kindergarten – my tears were mostly for my son.
As a former Catholic school student, there’s an emotional bond in wearing that plaid jumper and those navy blue shorts. Seeing your child in ‘their’ first Catholic school uniform is a transitional moment. It’s a bond that can only be appreciated by ‘other’ Catholic school students.
As I looked at my daughter’s Kindergarten class, I found myself consumed with the little boys. The pain was unbearable and I was relieved that I was able to mask my tears – attributing them to my daughter. In reality, my tears were for Mike. He wasn’t wearing the navy blue shorts, with the white shirt, embroidered with the school logo. He had autism!
Over the years, I’ve had countless moments like this. They mostly surround events or experiences that Mike should be participating in.
I’d like to be able to tell you that, with time, the pain subsides and that there’s acceptance – if there is, I haven’t found it. At any given moment, something can trigger me emotionally and I’m reduced to tears. What has subsided is some of the stresses. Gone are the 30-hour a week therapy programs and my obsessive search for ‘the cure’.
While I still grieve the loss of the son I was expecting, I’ve come to understand that the grief and pain that I feel is my own. Mike is not grieving any of these losses – certainly not missing out on Catholic school. When I shift my focus from MY perspective of happiness to his – I see that his life IS fulfilled. There is balance, acceptance, and Mike is happy.
It’s been 16-years since he was diagnosed and my goal for him is still the same. It’s the same goal I have for my daughter –be happy! If they can achieve that, they’re better off than most of society.