Good Times & Noodle Salad


AH - Castaneda Quote

Autism. In the days following Mike’s diagnosis, I remember a cashier innocently asking, “How are you?” as she pushed my groceries over the scanner. “How are you?” – the question felt like a knife. I just looked at her, pondering her words, pondering my emotions. It was too painful to provide her a canned response. Too painful to form a positive thought or consider ever having a positive emotion. “How am I?” – “How am I?” My son, my 23 month old baby, MY child has autism – how could I ever be simply ‘fine?’

Mike’s 2nd birthday party was scheduled to take place a couple of weeks after his diagnosis. I was paralyzed, simply going through the motions to meet the basic needs of my family. I belonged to my local ‘Moms Club’ and the other mothers came to my aid. They took over Mike’s party – hired the bounce house, cooked the food, helped with setup. I pulled it together enough to robotically attend the party – fighting back my tears and burying my emotions. To this day, I am incapable of looking at the pictures from that party.

In the months following, I quickly formulated and implemented a plan. It was a ‘recovery’ plan. I intended on pulling my son away from the diagnosis that was defining his life. I would not allow the dark thoughts to creep into my mind. I would not allow this diagnosis to define his future, not at 2 years old. I focused on the small progress he was making and threw myself into research. ‘Autism’ became my life – therapy appointments, diets, vitamins, whatever was popular.

A year later, I found myself sitting and watching a movie that would change my life. No, it was not the subject or message of the film – it was one line.

One simple question …

That question jolted my very core and forced me to look at how I was living my life. I was living for the future – waiting for the therapy to work and my ‘perfect’ child to arrive. I had put everything on hold; I was going through the motions. In fact, I was wasting the childhood that I did have with my children.

From that day forward, I have repeated that line, both in my head, and to other autism parents, countless times. It has given me the ability to shift my focus from what could be or could have been, to what is. It helped me decide what kind of life I wanted for myself and what kind of childhood I wanted for my children. It forced me to host great birthday parties and, sometimes, drag Mike into the world. I was able, with modifications, to fulfill the dreams I had for my kids before they were born. In essence, I chose to enjoy life. I chose to focus on each day without obsessing about an unknown future.

For, if this is truly as good as it gets, I choose to make the best out of what I have been given.

After all …


8 thoughts on “Good Times & Noodle Salad

  1. Lisa says:

    Right after his mmr vaccination I’m sure. He was a great smart baby before I bet….so sorry for you and your son.

  2. My 2 year old son is also autistic and I still have not coped with it….I don’t imagine I ever will. My son is nonverbal and all I ever day dream about is the day he says mama or I love you. I question if heWill he one day play ball with dad or Go to prom? Get married? Be a grandfather? Who will watch over him when I’m gone? It’s easier to just think of today but for me it’s impossible right now. I feel like I’m mourning the lost of the life my son was meant to have. The life he deserved. I’m terribly heart broken. I hope I can one day see things the way you do.

    • Mike was completely nonverbal at two, as well. Allow yourself the time that you need then begin living your life. This is not something you ‘get over’ it is a pain that you manage. Don’t calibrate happiness by YOUR standards – there are MANY unhappy married people in the world. See it through your son’s perspective, his happiness may look differently then you imagined. That doesn’t mean that it’s not happiness. As long as he is safe and happy, nothing else matters. I bet he is safe and happy today – no need to look beyond that. Enjoy today!!

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