Most of you know, my guy (I can't say little any more....he is 9 and a BEAST) has nonverbal autism. Affectionately known to many as "The Captain", Eli is an awesome kid who basically runs this house, as well as my calendar. This is not what I imagined parenting to be like. I thought I would be running to basketball games and friends' houses, not hustling from one therapy to the next. Much of what I thought parenting would be like didn't turn out how I envisioned, but God knew exactly who and what I needed.
I won't sugar coat it; parenting a child with nonverbal autism, aggressive behaviors, and not QUITE toilet trained (we are getting there) is hard. It is hard and I feel like a failure more than I don't. My type A personality and pension for goal setting and achieving butts up roughly to the unpredictable ups and downs of life at The CrabbShack. Any fellow enneagram type 3's will feel me.
But God. God knew I needed some edges softened and to learn some hard lessons. I needed to loosen some reigns, stop looking ahead and be in the present, and learn to celebrate the small and unexpected victories. I needed to learn how to function differently. And much like the tattoo on my foot with a puzzle piece says, different is not less.
In fact, different can be the door to so much more.
One way I look at things differently is through communication. Years ago, the thought occured to me that I tell this kid I love him a million times a day, but I don't know if he knows what that means. So, I started telling him. And I kept telling him. And I still tell him to this day. It goes a little something like this,
"I love you. Do you know what 'I love you' means? It means I think you're good, I think you're awesome, I can't imagine my life without you, and I would do anything for you. That is what 'I love you' means and I love you very much."
I have said that paragraph out loud so many times, you would think I was the one scripting (little nod to my fellow ASD parents out there ;) )
One day not long ago, that still small voice nudged me and said it back to me.
"Daughter, do you know what 'I love you' means?
It means I think you are good
Gen 1:31 NASB
God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
It means I think you are awesome
Psalm 18:19 ESV
He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
It means I can't imagine my life without you
Eph 2:14-18 NASB
For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, [thus] establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
It means I would do anything for you
Jhn 3:16 NASB
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
God's word over and over tells us what "I love you" means, and friends, He loves us very much.
I cannot adequately express in words how much I love my son. On the hardest of days when I want to scream and cry in frustration, my love for him does not drop one bit. When he makes even the smallest step forward, I nearly explode with pride. When he says, "momma" my heart feels like it will burst. I don't know what the future will hold, but I know that with all my might I will be standing right next to him, come what may. I love this child with all of my being.
And God loves him more than I do.
God loves ME more than that.
God loves YOU in ways you can never quite imagine.