Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Elements

Last night. Garret all curled up in my arms, knees to his chest my right arm draped over his back, my left arm under his neck. Whenever I shift my right arm, he pulls it right back to his body, wanting to be wrapped in this cocoon of embrace. Perhaps he wants to be enveloped not unlike when he was still in my womb? Safe, warm, comfortable, protected from everything. Nine months inside my body, preparing him to be ready to face the world, all the elements out there, nurturing him with survival instincts, willing him to thrive in this crazy, unpredictable and sometimes cruel world of ours. As with all parents, I know I can't protect my boys from everything. I know that too well. Special Needs parents KNOW THIS TOO WELL. I promised myself not to write any depressing or somber posts any more. But this is different. I just couldn't shake this sinking feeling in my gut how people can truly be cruel without even a second thought. Insensitive, another parent surmised. No, I disagreed. Insensitive is an understatement. Cruel is more like it. The worst part? These people do not even know they are being cruel. A malicious, offhand statement, a disapproving look and comment at the grocery store, a muttering of "What an undisciplined child." , all sorts of cruelty come in all forms and sizes. Times like these I wish I could place my two boys back in my womb to protect them from these elements. Yes, I call these cruel people elements. That's the best I can do to get back at them, to whittle them down to elements. Because people who do not give a second thought to the things they say to hurt my boys or all the special kids out there do not deserve to be called humans. They have forgotten their humanity, to say the least. I have to admit, even if I had blown off steam last night through my status update, I feel it is not enough. Forgive me but I most definitely CANNOT turn the other cheek on this one. Forgive me if I may have to contradict my previous posts affirming that Kindness should be a way of life, even to the most cruel of us. This post may seem that I am succumbing to the level of these 'elements'. But this is not so. Because, with an overpowering fervor and conviction, when it comes to my boys and all the special kids out there, I , quite simply, WILL NOT TAKE THIS SITTING DOWN. And this is definitely not stooping to the level of these elements. This is standing up for my boys.

This is for Garret and for Morgan. This is for Ethan and E.G. This is for Zaijan. This is for Gabby. This is for Marc. This is for Ken. This is for Kannon. This is for all the kids at the center. This is for all the special kids out there. This is for all the Autism Moms and Dads out there. This is for all the Special Needs Parents out there. Let us not take this sitting down. I plead you. I empower you. Let us fight back this attitude of ignorance and cruelty. Because this will simply not do. This is our children we are talking about. Because if only it is possible, we autism moms would without a second thought put back our children back in our wombs where no one can hurt them. No elements can hurt them. But it's not. So this is what we can and will do. Fight back. Spread Autism Awareness. Educate people. Especially when they are most cruel. Especially when they have forgotten their humanity. Let us jolt them back to their humanity.

Right now as I am furiously punching the keys my Garret is smiling, calm, peaceful, content happy, waiting to go to school. Morgan is still fast asleep. They do not know the fire boiling inside me. How angry I am at these elements. But they know how much I love them. This should be the only thing they know. Love. Kindness. And God knows, with every bit of bone, muscle and vein in my body, I will protect them. And I will fight for them.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Prayer for Today

"Garret, please bring these to the kitchen.", I requested of my little prince this morning, referring to the biscuits and water bottle in our room from the night before. He willingly took it from me and brought it to the kitchen as I went back inside to our room to finish making the bed. As I was tugging the corners of the bed sheet, a thought tugged at the corners of my heart as well --My little prince can already do what is requested of him. Translation- do simple chores, or help around the house, or simply help me as I am cleaning up our room. What a wonderful thought, I realized. But then again, this milestone of his is just one of many wonderful things that we have been blessed with.

Everyday miracles and life lessons have come tumbling out and so overwhelmed I have been that the only way I have written about it was to declare it on FB as my status. Short, brief sentences that aptly describe the moments as I remember it clearly. Posting it right away for fear that it will dissipate into some faded memory.

I remember sometime around March last year how I had just begun writing this blog, when it seemed as if words just came rolling out, my mom , in one of our many conversations asked me and later admonished me, "How is your prayer life? Don't forget to pray, Bea. Remember that it is in prayer that you draw your strength and wisdom as a mom and as a wife." I responded to her, "Mom, when I write, I am speaking to God. This is my prayer."

Of course, all the FB statuses I posted was all filled with the intention of consolidating it later on into one lengthy prose, or blog post as we call it nowadays. Or, remembering how I answered my mom-- one lengthy conversation with my God, one long prayer of gratitude.

How do I begin?

Do I begin by narrating again such wonderful moments to relive the magic and beauty in all of it? Nah, too redundant. Then again, I believe gratitude can never be redundant. Being grateful for every blessing I have been given can never be enough. And who is to say that prayers need to be filled with only one request and one thanksgiving, and should be said only once?

So here goes.

Thank you God, Heavens, Universe for moments like these:

Garret learning to eat on his own, returning his plate to the kitchen.
Garret learning to share his toys with Morgan, learning to be a big brother.
Garret exploring different textures of food, eating the french toast I made, eating breakfast with us.
Garret learning to be compliant, obedient, behaved in different places as when his papa took him to a Rotary event at a public high school. Garret just sitting down, observing the people and his surroundings.
Garret recognizing the letters of his own name, and writing it with so much enthusiasm and fervor that the walls of our home boast of the artistry of his handwriting, the beauty of his name.
Garret singing not unlike the cherubim with such effortless grace, with such pure harmony.
Garret dancing to a hip hop soundtrack to the movie we watched last night.
Garret responding (echolalic or not, I don't really care) to my I love you with a clear "YOU."

Morgan learning to sit through the entire sped class without whining or crying.
Morgan learning to carry his own backpack, removing his own shoes and putting it on the shoe rack at school.
Morgan happily imitating the actions of his teachers during circle time. "Sit down, sit down, we're rocking the boat..."
Morgan mastering the shapes of his mickey mouse form board.
Morgan learning to play with water in his mouth, gargle and spit (motor planning skills)
Morgan saying, "Go" for when he wants to go home or go out to play in the garden.
Morgan, while waiting for his papa to pick us up from school saying, "An-doo" (for his papa Andro)
Morgan calling my name "Bea (Bee-ya)" when I wasn't around as if looking for me, asking where I was.
Morgan pouting his lips for a kiss or puffing his cheek when I ask him for a kiss.
Morgan calling me "momma" in beautifully rare moments.

The list does not stop here. Miracles happen everyday. As my two boys have taught me this one poignant truth among many, I in turn am grateful for all the little things, everyday miracles that make up my world, that create my life, that beautifully design our life.

While autism is a clear and everyday reality for our family, we've finally learned that one important thing that will allow us to live out the greatest gratitude of all to the heavens, more than poetry, prose or blog post, it is this lesson, this decision that we've come to make, this life perspective-- we cannot let our fear of the future for our boys,the challenges that we face everyday overshadow the amazing miracles that happen day by single day. Rhonda Byrne said and I quote, "Life does not happen to you, it responds to you." The quality of our life is not a result of fate or circumstance. It is a result of our attitude towards life, it is the consequence of our everyday decision to accept whatever there is to accept about autism, do what we can about it, help our boys the best way we can for them to survive in this world and carry on with life with awe and wonder and a joyful and grateful heart.

So as I have challenged Autism many times before with a bullheaded, angry pride, I say this now with a more calm and discerning tone and disposition, "Is that all you've got, Autism? Because THIS is what we got. So why don't you bring it on? :-)" (Yes, complete with a smiley face.)

Some of my readers commented how they were always in tears reading my posts, probably because they were feeling the pain I wanted to express while experiencing one of the dark days of autism, especially those days where nothing really made sense. Well, now, I think I can say, every once in a while even through the thickest and gloomiest of clouds, the sun breaks through. I can't say I've come or my family and I have come full circle because there is still more to life. We are still young. And we still have numerous lessons to learn. But I think I can say we've taken the first step, breaking the shell of our pride and human wisdom and entering into this world of wonder, joy and gratitude-- the beautiful world of our two beautiful boys, our two royalties little Prince Garret and our feisty king Morgan.

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding...And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy." -Kahlil Gibran-

My prayer for today-- Thank you God for everyday miracles. I am in awe. My heart is filled with joy. I am and will eternally be grateful.