When I was 18 and pregnant with my son, I thought of how wonderful it was going to be to have my child at such a young age. We’d practically grow up together and I’d have plenty of energy to keep up with him, no matter what activity or sport he chose.
Selfishly, I was also happy with the idea that before my 40th birthday, he would already be out on his own, building a life and family for himself. I’d get the best of both worlds – 18 wonderful years of raising my son and then many years afterward to live child-free. I’d still be young enough to see my son get married and even watch my grandchildren grow up. How perfect, I thought.
Life doesn’t always work out as we plan. Sometimes our children don’t leave home and build a life of their own. In all my young-adulthood planning, never once did it cross my mind that my son may not leave. I never imagined, not even for a second, that I would have a child with a disability.
While I was pregnant, I recall telling a friend, when she warned me of all the sacrifices I’d have to make, “I don’t party or go clubbing. I don’t really do anything other than work. Having a child really isn’t going to change my life all that much. It’ll just make it more fulfilling.”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that my friend was right. When my son was 6 months old, I knew there was something not quite right with him. He wouldn’t let me hold him. He had constant meltdowns and it was impossible to calm him. He would never look at me when I called his name. Although I hadn’t spent a lot of time with babies, I knew his behavior wasn’t normal.
Finally, at the age of 3 he got his official diagnosis – Autism.
What did this mean for his future? According to professionals, he would be placed into a group facility. Immediately I pictured the psychiatric wards of not-so long ago. No way I’d let him go to a place like that. If it came down to it, he’d stay with me…forever.
Suddenly, the 18 years that I had been more than happy to sacrifice in order to raise my son, turned into possibly, an entire lifetime.
Now, nearly 17 years later, my son is still years away from being able to manage in this world alone…and I’m okay with that. I’m more than okay with that. In fact, I can’t imagine him being anywhere else.
He has other plans though. He has goals. Eventually he wants to have a job, a house and a wife. The question is, will he ever be capable of achieving those things? I sincerely hope so and I maintain the faith that he will, but that is something that only time will tell.
In the meantime, he’s home. He’s safe. He’s healthy. He’s happy.
I won’t lie – I have had to make many sacrifices and I’m certain that many more will come. But, if those sacrifices mean that my son will have the opportunity to live the best life that he can, then each and every sacrifice is worth it.
This post is for Just Jot It January, hosted by LindaGHill. I had planned to write something different, but after reading a fellow blogger’s comment on Linda’s post, I was inspired to write this instead.