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    Posted January 27, 2014 by
    claypoet
    Location
    New Jersey
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Confessions from imperfect parents

    More from claypoet

    Putting together the pieces: Being a parent to a child on the spectrum

     
    It was a long time coming, sitting in a room with the doctor and my husband by my side, each twin daughter sitting on our laps totally oblivious that this meeting was for them. It's been a long road to get this far and I know it has only just begun. The last 5 years have been filled with averting meltdowns, hundreds of hours of research, trial and error, and holding back negative feelings for onlookers who have judged, avoided and stared. This is the life of a parent who's child has the warning signs of autism spectrum disorder. It begins to show early. You notice things upset them that other children have no problem with. They might get angry more often, they might cry more. They might need things to be a certain way or else, for them, their entire world is collapsing around them and they cling to you for survival. Play dates don't always go well, parents and teachers ask questions, some misapply judgmental labels. And where does all of this leave you and your child? You become desperate for answers, you become protective of their environment, you hug them more, you learn that you will need more patience, and you love them no differently than you did from the first moment you laid eyes on them in that delivery room. You change your expectations. You applaud every accomplishment, every hurdle you get through together and you make sure to let them know - you will always support them, even when the world around them might not know how to.

    I remember what it was like before they were born. As a young adult, I set out with the desire to change the world. I wanted to accomplish as much as possible, run church programs, start charities, fulfill every goal on a long list I had made. If there was a need, I wanted to be the one to fill it. I was passionate about making a difference in the world and I pursued every opportunity to attempt it. I didn't know that I would soon be preparing to be a mom to not just one but 3 special needs children, our 2 biological, and 1 adopted. I've got a lot left to learn, we are all learning every day but having answers is better than being in the dark. We can't run from the truth, we need to embrace it and allign ourselves as parents to adapt accordingly. That may mean making a lot of life adjustments so life can be just a little easier for them.

    I'm ready to be there, to be their hero, to be their shoulder to cry on during the "bad days." And despite those hard days, we still dance together in the sunshine or even in the middle of a casual chain restaurant because they asked us to, we still share every single treasured moment that the other families do, even if for us, it might look a little different. People ask me how we do it, day in and day out, and I follow the advice that was given to me - take one day at a time. Treasure each one. It might be filled with both good and bad, but you get a chance to see how strong you can be, how strong they can be, and how strong you really are as a family. God has blessed us with gifted children, and they are nothing less than that - a gift.

    Whereas once, I set out to be someone who would change the world for the better, what I found instead was 3 beautiful children who have changed mine for the better.

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