To the fellow #parents of autistic children for whom the school Nativity is painful. We had ours today, he stood out amongst the sheep, wisemen, shepherds and camels; a star with ear defenders and ipad sat at the back on a TA’s knee.
He was the one who stayed sitting as his classmates stood up to sing. He was seemingly oblivious to the script and the songs the cuteness of Joseph and Mary. He didn’t sing, he didn’t have a part. He had an iPad and ear defenders.
Yet he lit up when he noticed us. He waved and grinned after his eyes scanned the faces and saw the three that adore him. I almost burst into tears right then, a single one escaped my eye and ran to my cheekbone.
Some days the differences in our kids are harder to spot. Some days they blow our minds as they show intelligence and kindness that seems beyond their years. Then there are days when they seem so far from their peers; so different and so out of place.
If you’ve been to the nativity or the Christmas show and you’ve felt that mix of pain and pure love for your son or daughter who navigates the world differently, then this is just to say, you’re not alone. I see you and I feel it too.
It’s okay to feel sad that your child stood out as different. It’s okay to feel angry that their amazing qualities weren’t on display and that days like this magnify their difference. It’s okay to worry that everyone sees them out of place and thinks less of them.
It’s okay to want to tell the well meaning person with their head-tilted look of sympathy to get lost. It’s okay to internally scream shut up at the stranger who tells you you are doing a great job as if your child is a trial to be survived.
A heart in the right place doesn’t make it easier to hear or to muster up a polite smile.
I see you. I feel it too. It’s hard as hell on days like today. I feel the sadness and the anger and the subsequent self-critical guilt for feeling sad and angry. What a mess these things can make in our minds.
On too many days I discover that I am still mourning the loss of something that never was; processing disappointment that my idea of how his life would pan out isn’t going happen. As if that was my right.
Apparently, that is normal in this situation. It’s okay to feel that way, it doesn’t mean we love our kids less. Today was hard. Tomorrow we go again. Happy Christmas.🎅🏼🤶🏻