I do this because I have to. It is not a trial I would have chosen. Too much heartache and too many unknowns.
There are blessings, absolutely. Without this trial I'd be a lesser person. The attributes that make me a good mother to this individuals special needs are qualities I have of because of Jacob.
I was doing a pretty good job of parenting my typical kids before autism came. They have always been happy and active and smart. But nothing ever required the extent of care that is now a necessity and, daily fact of life and I don't know what parenting style I would have grown into otherwise. I don't think that version of me would have been as tough as this one.
I was watching Oprah this afternoon while folding laundry. She was featuring and family who adopted a severely neglected little girl. When the young girl, Dani, was removed form her home she was six years old and had been confined for who knows how long to a small, filthy room with only an old, ripped mattress.
She weighed less than 30 pounds, couldn't walk normally, was wearing diapers, drinking what little she was actually fed from a bottle, and not speaking. The adoptive family wanted to care for a child, and when they saw her there was an immediate connection.
They have taken her into their lives, love her, care for her, work hours upon hours to help her, and are seeing progress in her development. Slow progress, but infinitely more than she would have gotten had she continued under the roof of her shamefully neglectful biological mother.
I watched the videos of her daily life and saw so many similarities to what goes on at my house. She reminded me quite a lot of Jacob. I assume Dani's new parents are dealing with more physical impairment issues than am, and I deal with more aggression and attacks. But, in general, the degree of delay in speech and the unusual behaviors looked the same.
I started off at the beginning of the program thinking "I do that all day. Where's my pat on the back? I didn't have a choice in the matter."
Selfish, I know. As soon as I thought it I felt ashamed of myself. So I closed my eyes and said a prayer for myself. Specifically to feel kindness and empathy, and not the desire for acknowledgement and credit.
I have a Father in heaven, as we all do, who loves me and wants me to be the best I can be, and he lovingly granted me new feelings about the situation almost immediately. My thoughts turned to the generosity and selflessness and open hearts of this family who made a choice to raise a child with such severe disabilities and an unknown future.
They saw her at her lowest, they welcomed the challenge, and they wanted her. That is something to admire. That is true love and charity. They are miles above me.
If I could choose, if I were able to decide to have three normal children and the simpler trials they present, I would have. I'm not that tough. I want things to be easier.
But, again, my Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself. He knew that Jacob would make me a bigger person. He saw my potential to love unconditionally and to see this special boy as more of a blessing than a burden.
I am a better mother and wife, a better daughter, sister, friend, and child of God because of my personal challenges and experiences. Someone wise said, "I never said it would be easy, but it will be worth it." Words to keep a mother going.
On the days when it just feels to heavy to carry- I can lighten my load with a prayer in my heart. I recall in my mind the blessings I have gotten and the blessings that are sure to come.