There are days when, no matter what, that missed 1.5 hours of sleep in the night affects my whole day. It’s not Grunt’s fault – his relationship with sleep has been tenuous since birth. And though I could lie blame at the feet of Autism and be perfectly justified, it seems like a waste. I can’t spend my life blaming something that I can’t control. So when I say I am tired, I am just that: tired.
We have gotten the official diagnosis now, and MiniSir and I have worked through a lot of what that will mean for our family. Blissfully, Grunt is unaware of the shift in our thinking, and if anything, is thriving as we begin to implement strategies from his school in our home.
Yes, he is attending school. He was accepted in the Pre-K program for Speech Language Therapy initially, with everyone involved knowing that the Autism diagnosis would be forthcoming. Now that we have it, he’s been approved for a one-to-one aide at his daycare in the afternoons and additional programming funding for specific family-based learning. We’ve sought out community groups to help us integrate into this strange new world as a family. And we’ve started to ask questions about what all of this means for us financially.
What it means right now is that my workplace is accommodating the demanding schedule of the autism-specific programming through the school. It means that, though my career is important for me and my family, it would actually be easier to be a special needs parent if I wasn’t working. It means some services expect to be accessed Monday through Friday, 8-4, and as a military spouse and Government of Canada employee, that is nearly impossible.
Thankfully, I have compassionate supervisors. Thankfully, there is precedence to getting the time off I need to make this happen for Grunt. Thankfully, I am working in the exact right place at the exact right time. But what if I wasn’t? How many families have to make the difficult decision to have one stay-at-home parent, sacrificing their potential income and their sense of worth to focus on being a special needs parent? It astounds me to think that, in order to do what’s best for their child, they need to do something detrimental to themselves. I realize there are some parents that would rather stay home, would rather explore other employment options or home-schooling or max out their government benefits, but that’s not me. That’s not my family. And it hurts to be punished for trying to do the right thing by my child.
Just like being up between 0230 and 0400 on a weeknight, that alarm clock going off at 0515, and that bowl of oatmeal choked down on a queasy stomach does. All of that hurts because I’m tired.
Being a fighter is hard. No matter how much I hurt, I will never stop striving to provide the best for Grunt and our family. His well-being drives our family. We have had some great successes this year; most recently, we had an amazing family trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. I’ve also learned a lot about my son: his likes (drums), dislikes (revolving doors), and fears (public washrooms). I wouldn’t know these things without spending time with him, even if some of that time is in the wee hours of the day.
So you see, I can’t hate the “A” word. It’s made me a better parent. It’s made our family more cohesive. It’s made Grunt more Grunt. Even though I could use it as a crutch, just like I could use my PTSD, my physical health, or my status as a #milspouse, I can’t see it that way. Using any of these as a crutch would lessen us.
All of these things – ALL OF THEM – make us who we are. It’s why we practice resiliency. It’s why we persevere. It’s why we choose love over hate. Hate gets us nowhere.
Love at least gets us a tired cup of coffee and a second breakfast at McDonalds. Maybe later, it’ll get me some toddler cuddles in front of the fire too. I’ll take those over misplaced anger any day.