I’m Sorry and I Love You

Dear Caleb,

I was talking to a friend and fellow Autism mama last week and had the self reflection that I need to do better. This is not a matter of crossing items off of a to-do list for you like our home-school lessons, therapy sessions, social outings, etc.

I need to be a better me, so I can help you be the best you.

I need to have more patience. I need to pace us better. I need to watch what I say, be mindful of how I act, and show us both some more grace.

Parents ask me sometimes, when I am with their children, if I am “always this patient.” And the answer is simply “no.” From the hours of 9-6 in my office or in your home I absolutely am. And do you know why? Because I can do anything for 30 minutes. That is my job. I have formal and specialized training to use a certain skill set in a certain setting to help your child be successful.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. It is so much different when you live it. Even when I’m conditioned to spend 40 hours a week doing things the RIGHT way, the BY THE BOOK way, when you live it- when you don’t get a chance to come up for air and sometimes feel like you are drowning in it- there suddenly is no “right” way to do anything. Sometimes there’s just survival.

Sometimes I yell even though I know joining your chaos will not result in calm. Sometimes I get angry when I see something else ruined from a stim or compulsion. Sometimes I am sad when I call your name and you don’t turn and look at me.

I have been so used for so long to speaking so freely in your presence because you have been so quiet for the last four years that I have forgotten that you understand almost everything. And tone and body language are very meaningful to you so I fear, unknowingly, I have sometimes hurt your feelings.

I will do better for you, son. I will breathe deeply before asking you to do the same. I will save my loud voice to exclaim something joyful instead of yelling at you in frustration. I will not care so much about how things look inside these four walls but more about how you feel when you are inside of them. If I feel like I’m drowning, I will take a time-out until I feel like I’ve been up for air long enough to be my best for you.

Despite my flaws and short-comings, thanks for always greeting me with a big grin and a “hiiii” when I come home from work like seeing me is the most exciting part of your day. Thanks for the morning cuddles with cartoons and for complying 100% of opportunities when I ask for a kiss. I promise to ALWAYS return the favor.

I will offer more “I love you’s” than “I’m sorry’s.”

Love and Autism,

Mama