Don't judge me, don't judge me with your eyes while we are in line at the grocery store and my son is having a melt down in the checkout line. Don't judge me when we are at a restaurant and he is unwilling to sit down and may get loud. Don't judge me at the doctor's office while waiting for our turn to see the doctor and my son is tired of sitting in the same place and wants to roam free. Don't judge me at the playground when my son hesitates too long on the slide because he is having an anxiety to come down. Don't judge me at church when the noise level increases and he begins to cry. Don't judge me when I just want to be at home and relax. Don't judge me when we are at family gatherings and I seem disheveled and distant. Don't judge me if we do not make it to every event that you hold.
I am no longer apologetic for my son with autism. I no longer apologize for his outburst or tantrums while standing in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant. I am not sorry he gets upset when the doctor is taking too long for us to be seen. I am not sorry that he learns differently from typical kids. I will not let what others believe to be normal behavior impact my life. The fact of the matter is, my life isn't normal. There is always a twist to my day. Some days end on a very high note and some end in tears. I make no apologies for all that and in between.
What you didn't know is how I sat in my car and cried for months because I couldn't fix what was wrong with my son. What you didn't know is how I prayed for months to stop feeling sorry for myself and I continue to pray that God works on me and through me to give me strength to raise my children. What you didn't know is that we want to come to church like a normal family and fellowship and listen to sermon. What you didn't know is how I felt so alone and ashamed this happened to my son and my family. What you didn't know how for four long years I prayed for my son to say "mommy I love you" or just to call out my name. What you didn't know was my fears was Ralph would not be able to learn basic academic concepts. What you didn't know is how I felt like I was just walking in a fog until God gave me light to find my way out of the darkness. What you didn't know is how I felt alienated from my friends, but you see my family rallied to support me; my mother is my best friend and my cousins became sisters. God and my family saved me from depression, from feeling hopeless, and replaced it with hope and unconditional love. So many are quick to look at you and your family and judge you without considering what your life is like. All they can say and think is "Oh those kids are spoiled", "Oh she needs to do this", and "I would do that...", but fail to see these kids are loved beyond measure. My husband and I sacrifice so much of ourselves to be there for them.What you see is two parents being present and involved in raising their children. Yes, we make mistakes and fall short, but we continue to grow and learn from our mistakes. You have no idea what it feels like to love your family so much you would lay your life on the line for them in a millisecond without hesitation, for every last one of them.
So I am not sorry we do not get many invites to hang out. I am finally okay with the social calendar that revolves around my kids. I am not upset anymore that we are not included, the truth is you're missing out. I have accepted that yes, this is the life I chose; one that lives for her husband and kids, being front and center for every milestone, recital, bump and bruise. I do not regret it one bit. On occasion do I miss a fancy dinners and drinks with friends and adult conversation, "Yes, yes I do." And for the record we do get out of the house without the kids. But oh how I love those little faces looking up at me asking me to cuddle with them and watch their favorite tv shows. Its those stolen moments in time that you can't buy at any fancy restaurant, store or party.
No one tells you while in your twenties that life is hard and when you start a family it gets even harder. You're now the responsible person; molding and shaping your children, trying to lead by example. I want my kids to know that I was there for them, I was at every school performance, every dance recital, awards banquet, basketball game or swim meet. They will remember my face in the front row screaming my head off to cheer them on. You see my parents did that for me and my brother. Our parents never missed any activity we were involved in. We come from humble beginnings, a two parent household where both parents worked full time jobs. My father worked as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service for close to 40 years in Washington, DC, which is a 60 mile drive from our home in Virginia. He would leave at 3:45 am everyday for work and worked a second job cleaning banks to help put my brother through college. My mother would get up with him every day making his breakfast and packing his lunch; she too worked full time she cleaned houses for a living since the age of nine years old and still to this day. My parents are hard workers and still continue to work hard for their community and church . My parents have instilled in us that "anything worth having is worth working hard for", this not only meant for your career goals or financial gain, but for your marriage and kids. It can be applied in all aspects of life.
Until you walk a mile in my shoes, don't judge me unless you are taking that journey with me.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."2 Corinthians 5:10