Tuesday, October 28, 2014


"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -Samuel Beckett

         Twice this month, my dear Garret had a meltdown. Both big ones. In school. Suffice it to say we were both exhausted afterwards. 45 minutes after. In the middle of the meltdown, I found myself just holding his hands and arms tight, my head bowed down, weeping, asking "Why?". To whoever was listening. The Universe preferably.

          I  failed him those two days. I failed as a parent. 

         Parenting is difficult. That much is true. There is no manual. There is no grad school for that. Autism or Special Needs parenting, all the more. Everything is trial and error. With errors aplenty. But no matter. We try again. We try new strategies on how to deal with tantrums. Meltdowns. Rigidity to routine. We take on different perspectives, different attitudes. Some days they work. Some days they don't. Some days the load becomes too heavy we know of no other way but to break down, fall on our knees and ask "Why?". 

       But each time this happens, we learn. We learn something we haven't learned before-- the limits of our patience, the self-control it took for our child not to break down minutes before. We learn to ask, "Wait, what went on right there? What did we just do or not do?" We may have failed and fallen yet again. But we know we have learned crucial lessons each time.

     A former student of mine recently told me how she was going to share my blog to a friend of hers whose son was recently diagnosed with autism. She thought my stories were inspiring to many especially special needs parents. Maybe my story could uplift her friend.

     Here's what I think: I am by no means perfect. Far from it. I am a mess when it comes to parenting. I fail many many times. If there ever was an award for failure, I'd be first in line to get it.  More than half the time, I am scared shit about what is to come. But here's what I do: I stand back up. I dust off my knees, my hands, whatever part of my body that was smeared with the dirt of missteps and failures. I hold my heart in my hands, not just on on my sleeve. I put it on the scarred palms of hands for all the world to see. I weep. I scream. I rant. I ask "why?". And then I close my eyes and breathe. I breathe and remember what is important. My boys.  My gifts from the Universe. The Universe whom I have thrown the question "Why" countless times. I open my eyes and see the beauty that is them. In that beauty is the truth that they reveal to me and generously teach me-- Courage. My two boys are courage come alive. Their truth has become mine and that is why I am able to get back up, reset, try again. 

     No matter that I am afraid. I still tell myself, "Today is done. Tomorrow is a new day. I'll do better. I will be better. I am even better today than I was yesterday." 

     This is the beauty of parenting. Of Autism parenting. Of special needs parenting. The journey is unpredictable, unknowable and sometimes all we can see are the possibilities of failure. But out of those possibilities are opportunities to become better parents, become better human beings and discover our own personal truths.

     Along with the question of "Why?" is the question of whether if I had the power to change things, would I? And if I would, what would it be?

     I would be a hypocrite to I say I would not change a thing. If it means it would make my boys' lives a less difficult and less challenging, then I would change many things.

     But at the back of my mind is a nagging thought--  what if the very purpose the Universe chose to give me the gift of Autism in the persons of my two boys is so that I, as their mother, as a parent, as a woman, as a human being can go to the edge of failure, become the very epitome of fear, fail again and again and in the process become a better person, become braver, become a more fearless human being? And in this beautiful process, make the world around me become better? Make this life better?

     Courage. Strength in the face of pain or grief. To do things that frightens one. To do better, to be better, to fail better requires courage. Parenting my two boys. Loving them, raising them requires courage. Everyday I am afraid. This is why everyday I have the capacity to be brave.
     There is no manual or grad school for parenting, for any kind of parenting. There is only one requirement: To not be afraid of failure. To try and try again. To fail better. To strive to be better. To be better. Every single day.