There has been some uproar, and a lot of conversation this week following the publishing of Toni Braxton’s book, Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir, in which she asks the question of her autistic son being punishment for her having an abortion. Personally, I was not offended by her admitting she’d asked that question. Nor did I feel the need to defend her son from his own mother’s comments. I didn’t take it as her seeing him as her punishment. I didn’t take it as her wishing him away. Granted, I have not yet read the book, just the many posts and comments on posts regarding the subject. It did not seem her words were directed at him as a person, but were an honest, completely human response.
I love my autistic son. He is my heart. But in all honesty, I have found myself asking why, wondering out loud if I were being punished through his suffering, or if karma for all our preemie did NOT face was coming back around in the form of our youngest baby being autistic. I don’t feel guilty for being honest. And I believe any parent of an autistic child who says they haven’t begged to know why, is not being honest. I don’t think in those dark moments, on those horribly dark days asking that why, wondering aloud, means you’re demeaning or disrespecting your child.
Would I take away autism from my son if it meant changing him? The answer is a firm YES! When you see your child struggle every day just to get through the day, when you hear your 10-year-old tell you he’s having suicidal thoughts, when sleepless nights, weight loss, tantrums, anxiety, heavy medications, therapies, psychiatrists, IEP’s and accommodations are part of your every-day life, heck yeah you’d take it away. I love him just the way he is, yes, but I would make it all go away if I could. I would give up his crazy-brilliant mind, his wittiness, his crazy abilities with Legos, his 5:30am science questions, his insane skills with words and language to make his life easier. I would give those awesome qualities up to not have to see him get out of the car every school day, mentally and physically putting on his “armor” to get through those 6.5 hours. I would have a slightly boring child if it meant I never had to hover over his bed all night, praying he would keep his promise to not hurt himself. I would struggle with him over math homework, spelling tests, and puzzles if it meant not having to spend $150 every month on medications to help him focus and not flip out with anxiety. And I don’t think I’m being the least bit disrespectful to him and who he is by saying it. I’m his mother. I believe one day, when he’s older, he will read all the things I’ve written as we’ve trudged along this path, and he will understand why I said, thought, and wrote the things I did. I fully believe he will get my words were never directed at him, but were more my responses as his mother.
We are where we are, and he is who he is. I treasure the awesomeness having a different-functioning brain has brought him, truly I do. For all he battles against, he is an amazing child. His life is and will be a wonder to watch. I HAVE to see the bright side of this, because I simply have no choice. I’m not saying Toni Braxton was right for putting it out there in asking if she were being punished in some way for having an abortion by having an autistic son. I’m just saying I get it, and I don’t malign her for thinking it. For what parent in their right mind has done triple-back-flips in joy when finding out their child is autistic? We’re human. When we hurt, we want to know why, and when we really hurt, we may ask questions that seem completely illogical. One of the worst pains I’ve ever felt in my entire life had nothing to do with my own physical being, but rather with watching my children hurt and having to stand there and watch, knowing there was very little, if anything, I could do to take it away.
*And now I’m terrified to hit the “Publish Post” button for fear of offending anyone (again)*