I remember the days of colic and sleepless nights. I remember the lazy summers of trying to get my son out of diapers. I remember the exhausting long days of therapy and meltdowns. I remember the moments when I would be lying in bed, crying, spent and completely drained of all energy and emotion. I remember wishing time to speed up. I remember wanting things to hurry along so I could get out of this never-ending cycle of rigid routines, non-verbal communication, meltdowns, countless therapy sessions, anxiety and the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.
Things will get better when he’s older, I thought. And that day couldn’t come fast enough.
Well here we are, he’s older and so am I.
He’s outgrown some of his rigid routines but not all. Time has helped him develop in many ways; he’s developed academically, emotionally, behaviourally and to some extent spiritually too. He’s is, by all accounts, a teenager coming into his own but he’s also a teenager with autism and this too has its challenges, still to this day.
He is not a child anymore; his deep voice and tall stature remind me of this every day but then I take his hand in mine and it looks like that of a child. He’s not where he used to be, the non-verbal child with huge sensory issues, but he’s still not quite the soon-to-be-adult that his chronological age dictates.
He’s somewhere in between.
He’s the young adult who’s working an internship job until May but he’s still the boy with autism who can’t take the city bus by himself or fully understand the concept of people who can harm him.
He’s the soon to be adult who can legally walk into a bar and order a drink but still needs me to help him into bed at night and follow his scripted routine.
He’s neither a child nor an adult. He’s somewhere in between.
I think back to those days when I naively believed that I would worry less as he got older. I was wrong. My worrisome heart thinks about his future and I pray that he becomes independent enough to know how to protect himself against others. How I wish I could go back in time and hold on to those precious days. Everything was so much easier then, I can see that now. Time gives you perspective and I’ve learned to appreciate the moments we are living now because soon enough, I’ll be wishing to come back to these days too.
This child, this boy, this young adult who, like many others, is trying to find his way in this world. He’s not a baby and he’s not an adult, he’s somewhere in between, trying to understand and define his role and what makes him happy.
As I watch my son excel at his own pace, hitting milestones I prayed for, I can still see the young boy who ran a marathon to get to where he is standing today. He’s still running and I imagine he’ll be running the rest of his life but with each passing day, his legs get stronger and carry him further and further every time.