I’ve had a thought on my mind the past week, and I really felt the need to share it if only for cathartic purposes.
My two-year old daughter is autistic, and this has led to a host of new and frightening challenges for my wife and I over the last six months. I know it sounds tragically elitist, but it’s so true that only families with autistic children understand what families with autistic children go through. It’s such a foreign world, and a time-consuming one at that.
One of the many adaptations we’ve had to make is with bedtime, as MarLeah simply refuses to stay down for an entire night. Before we learned about keeping a steady, unflinching routine as a way of emotional management for her it was much worse. Nowadays it’s generally a once-a-night situation. Even then it follows a routine. She awakes, cries, I pick her up, change her diaper, give her a drink of water, snuggle for a few minutes, and then tuck her tightly back into bed.
At this juncture I’d also like to point out the communication barriers that come with autistic territory. She’s rudimentary at best in her exchanges with us, and that’s where I found myself one fateful night.
I walked into her bedroom, groggy, just like every other night. Same routine, diaper changed, drink of water, and then…..
I was startled. Then it happened again.
My heart began to swell as I realized what was happening. Elated, I encouraged her to drink as much as she wanted.
“Here you go sweetheart, have as much as you like!”
She finished, we snuggled, and I tucked her back into bed.
As I sat in the dark reflecting on what had just happened, a beautiful thought swelled over me. You see, I honestly believe that in the eyes of God, and through our brokenness, we all have a little spiritual autism. My communication with my father is stymied from my end. The joy I felt when my daughter communicated with me in such simple terms is surely a microcosm of the joy my father feels when I do the same.
It’s moments like this that help keep in perspective how my worth isn’t performance based. If I give what I’m capable of in my broken state, it’s more than enough.
Sometimes more is less, and that’s okay.