When Life Isn’t Perfect

My smiley boy at 5 months.I had been 20 for a month when I married my high school sweetheart.

I was 24 when our first child was born. A beautiful 8 pound baby boy.We were thrilled!

Just like any other new mom, I began to imagine what life would be like now for our little family and I had big dreams for our sweet boy.

Our beautiful daughter was born three years later.

A boy and a girl. Our family was complete.

Life was perfect.

Or was it?

After our son was born, I quit my job as a hospital social worker to be a stay at home wife and mom. It was what I had always wanted to be—what I felt I had been born to do. In fact, I used to say as a teen, that when I grew up, I wanted to be a “baby factory” with a house full of kids.

  • That was before I knew about the reality of childbirth. <wink>
  • That was before I knew that having children is like walking around with your heart outside your body all the time.
  • That was before Asperger’s.

Watching our son grow and discover his surroundings was a thrill for me. I saw how bright he was. As an avid book lover, I reveled in his love for books and words. By the time he was 14 months old and putting 3 word sentences together, I was convinced we had a genius on our hands!

Not only was he a genius, but he was also easily frustrated. He had a terrible time getting to sleep (Thanks for nothing, Dr. Ferber!), and when he got old enough to take off his clothes without my help, he did. All of them. And often. And at places like playgroup. Yes, I know he was 3, but none of the other kids were doing it.

I just thought he was precocious. And as a first time mom, I had no frame of reference for anything different.

When our son was three and our daughter was 3 months old, we moved from our home in North Carolina, to the wilderness of Texas, where it was 100 degrees every day and where we knew no one. I felt so completely alone for the hours that my husband was at work. This was not his fault, but nevertheless, I struggled with feeling isolated.

Something happened after we moved. The precocious genius boy became more than easily frustrated; he became inconsolable when things did not go his way. He was angry. He would fall down in the middle of the Wal-Mart, boneless, screaming. He would bite. He became fixated on the digestive system of the human body. He would take his shoes off at preschool and refuse to put them back on. He kicked the teacher. He would completely meltdown whenever his baby sister would start to cry—hysterically, sometimes—while screaming, “Mommy!! Make her stop!!”

I blamed it on his constant ear infections or the fact that he was tired because he would fight naps and bedtime.

Many days, there we would be, all three of us crying. We would cry what seemed to be endless puddles of tears.

I was convinced that I was a bad mother.

I felt I could barely give our daughter the attention she needed because I was constantly needed to soothe and reassure our son. It was my fault because I was depressed after our move,  and our son was feeding off my terrible emotional state. I would pray, begging God to help me be a better mother.

Some days, when my husband would come home from work, I would simply hand off the kids and retreat to the bathroom where I would sit comatose in the bathtub and cry. I would then feel guilty because my husband had worked all day only to arrive home to crazy chaos, a messy house, kids in tears, and a wife who was an emotional wreck. (My husband is an amazing guy.)

On bended knees by my bedside, I would weep. And pray. And I would give my worries to God only to take them back.

To say it was a difficult time in the life of our family would be a gross understatement.

We were in survival mode.

Recently, I was asked how I have dealt with having a child with Asperger’s. Based on what I’ve just shared, sometimes not so well.

Here’s how: But God.

2 Chronicles 20:15
…This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Psalm 9:18
But Godwill never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

Psalm 66:19

…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Acts 2:24
But Godraised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,  because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Acts 7:9
“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him…

Acts 26:22
But Godhas helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 7:5-7

5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn —conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast,comforted us by the coming of Titus…

But God. God is perfect.

God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, carried us through that early time. He carries us today and He will continue to carry us, and our son. Always.

We walked through the diagnosis process at age 5, and I mourned the loss of the dreams I had when I saw our son for the first time. We navigated special education and IEPs, worried about the lack of social skills and friendships, wrestled with treatment choices for our son, major sensory issues, and ultimately chose to homeschool our son starting in 9th grade.

Along the way, God has sent us many wonderful people to encourage us, to help us and to help our son navigate through this world, which, to the person with Asperger’s can be like navigating through a mine field.

We’ve worried and wept and prayed. We’ve clung to God’s Word and His promises. We know that God, who created our sweet boy, loves him more that we ever could.

“For I know the plans I have for you…” (God’s plans, not mine. His ways, not mine. His dreams, not mine.) “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

We have been given an amazing child to love! A young man who is funny and very bright. Sensitive and kind. We have celebrated so many victories and we have watched our son grow and learn and work around many of his challenges. I cannot imagine a more wonderful son than the one God has given us, a son who brings us so much joy.

We put our hope in God’s plan. We realize that our life will never be perfect—no one’s ever will. It will never look like the lives of families who do not live with autism. And that is okay. It is not supposed to.

So, what do you do when you realize life isn’t perfect?

  • You reach up and reach out.
  • Accept help. Look for help and learn to ask for it—an incredibly difficult thing to do and a huge lesson in humility.
  • Accept that you are not in control and trust that God, your loving Father, is. Trust in His plan.
  • Love.
  • Find joy.
  • Weep. Laugh.
  • Pray. Meditate on God’s Word.
  • Learn.
  • Hope.
  • Dream.

Yes, dream.

I still have dreams for my sweet boy. They just look different.

Just like my wonderfully imperfect life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

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13 Comments

Filed under Autism Days, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Lessons, Parenting

13 responses to “When Life Isn’t Perfect

  1. Winston Blackard

    New findings published in Pediatrics (Epub ahead of print) by the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders reveal that 70 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who have a history of severe language delay, achieved phrase or fluent speech by age eight. This suggests that more children presenting with ASD and severe language delay at age four can be expected to make notable language gains than was previously thought. Abnormalities in communication and language are a defining feature of ASD, yet prior research into the factors predicting the age and quality of speech attainment has been limited. ”

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  2. Cori Hanks

    Autism is still a mystery to doctors since they cant exactly pinpoin the main cause of it. –

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  4. Going for the tissue now. Your son is blessed to have a mom (and dad) like you. I think God has a perfect plan for all of you. That’s why He chose you to live in family. Love to you.

  5. Victor Kriese

    My best friend has an autistic kid and his kid is doing fine right now. thanks to a very good and supportive family. ;”.*’

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. Motherhood has so many rough moments anyway. Shedding light on autism helps others not fear it and helps us reach out in support. When parents understand it, they raise kids who understand it. Only good can come from that.

  7. This is a beautiful article, thank you for sharing such great wisdom Joell.

I always love hearing from you! :-)

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