Since enduring sixteen days of hospital bedrest, the 3 1/2 month early arrival of our oldest child, subsequent 93-day NICU stay, and all the follow-up that came after that, I have been called “strong” more times than I can count. It has risen again in our day-to-day dealings with autism in our youngest. Funny thing…I have never, and still don’t, consider myself a strong person. In fact, I firmly believe I am anything but strong.
Currently, I am completely overwhelmed by the status of our family. I don’t know at all what I’m doing. I feel I should know, but I don’t. I feel I should do more, but am paralyzed with uncertainty and in not knowing which paths to take. I feel I am failing my child but have no real clue how to make it better for him, for all of us.
I spend many days forcing myself outside the house, making myself complete the normal daily tasks which somehow seem so huge and yet are in reality so small. I battle tears multiple times a day, anger just as frequently. I feel lost, unhinged, and so completely sad. There are brief moments of total joy, when he’s laughing, talking, engaged, and has a good day. There is laughter with friends, my husband, my children. But it doesn’t reach down deep the same way the sadness and heartbreak does.
I would choose to hide in that cave until his life is better. I would stay there until someone points me in the best direction for his care and education. I would bury my head, scream into my pillow, cry til my eyes were dry, given the choice. But I don’t have a choice. I have children to take care of, a house to manage, life to live. This, I do not consider strength. It’s necessity. I pour my heart out here because it saves me, saves my sanity, helps me process. It is not strength in me that enables me to put our lives out there for others to read, it is rather the baring of my weaknesses. I write because I have to.
It is the same with my running. I still struggle to call myself a runner. In my mind, it is purely exercise, and another outlet to escape the hurt of having an autistic child. I run because I must. I run because it lets me run away.
I am not a strong person. I am just a mother who makes a choice on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis to keep going. But it’s not really a choice. There isn’t really an alternative. It is by the grace of God I pull myself out of bed each morning, get the children out the door, get the help my beautiful boy needs, and carry on.