Friday, April 9, 2010

With it being autism awareness month, I thought I'd share one of the personal struggles I face being a mom to a child with autism. It's a struggle thousands of moms like me face everyday.

Who will take care and love Clee when I'm gone or no longer able to? Who can love and nurture him the way I do? Who will know all the hundreds of quirky things he does and how to handle them? These are questions I ask myself many times during the day. They're questions I lose sleep over as many times as Clee has restless nights.

I sometimes think it would be easier to die together. We're only 21 years apart, it could happen. I know. I'm horrible. Here's an open window for judgment, no? I feel like a bad mother whenever I think this, but I feel comfort in knowing I'm not the only mother to a child with autism who does think about it. After all, there's not a soul in the world who can love our children as much as we do.

Emme has been telling me since the young age of 4 that she is going to have a home big enough for Clee to have his own room in when she grows up. Clee is going to work in her NYC art studio. She has it all planned out. Even though she came up with this plan all on her own, I've always secretly assumed she and Andrew will take care of him decades from now when it becomes too hard for me and Fiel to. Is that fair of me to put that kind of responsibility on my other two children who will have families of their own to take care of with the possibility of one them having their own child with autism? That's another question I struggle with. I want to tell Emme and Andrew that they don't have to take on that responsibility if they choose not to, but I'm selfish and afraid that they might say no, so I fear I might not ever give them the choice.
Even if it would be a struggle for Emme I think she'd take the responsibility with open arms. She'd be the one person that would love him almost if not as much as I do.

One thing is for sure: I thank Heavenly Father everyday for sending me Emme. No one could take the place of her. She has the outlook on life that I want to follow. I know how hard it must be to have a sibling with autism. To overhear rude comments about the brother she loves by her classmates. To have to hide all of her special toys, and drawings because her brother will destroy or eat them. To worry about him enough to want be around him instead of being with peers during school functions. She endures all of this with a smile. She knows as well as I do that this is the life God has chosen for us, and we agreed to it with love in our hearts. God hand picked her to be Clee's sister- that fills my heart with joy.

Even Andrew has stepped up to the plate and pitches in with the care of Clee. He doesn't do it because I ask him to or the example of his big sister. He does it because he genuinely wants to. His eyes light up when Clee engages in play with him. It rarely happens so he soaks up the moment whenever he gets a chance to. He treats Clee like the little brother, he always has. In some ways Clee is. I think it's too cute when Andrew pats Clee on the back for eating spaghetti with the family, or buckling Clee in and making sure we know he does it because he "loves Clemon". It's been such a relief to see Andrew trying with Clee. There's been times when I think he has given up having a brotherly relationship with him. I should never doubt Andrew's willingness. I thank Heavenly Father for him everyday, too.

I also thank Heavenly Father for sending me Clee. He has taught me so much about life, and love. He makes a bad day bright with his to-swoon-over-smile. He's taught his siblings the importance of being who you are and not what others want you to be. I think because of Clee, Emme and Andrew have the wisdom not to judge a book by it's cover. Whether they know it or not, Clee teaches them everyday.

At the end of the day, when I think about the topics above and tell myself Clee will be cared for, Clee will be loved, I still can't help but to worry about his future. I think it's the only natural way to be when you're so in love with someone.


Meg said...

Sweetness! Clee will be taken care of, I am sure of it. He is a little miracle that will not be forgot when you are gone. He was blessed with wonderful siblings that love him dearly....and we all know that family is something you are stuck can't change it and I can see that your kids embrace that fact, they don't fear it. Take a deep breath and rest asure that things will be ok in one way or another.

Grandma Gerri said...

You are such an amazing mother with wonderful children. Don't fear Heavenly father will make sure someone watches over Clee of this I have no doubt. And if I'm able I will make sure of it after I'm gone.

Tice said...

Garth Brooks said it best, you know. I guess God knows what he's doing after all. Emme and Andrew couldn't be better siblings for Clemon. You and Fuel couldn't be better parents for him. And I personally believe my boyfriend, Clemon, couldn't be cuter if he tried. Kiss him for me.

Kim & Stace said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post, Natalie. You have a beautiful heart and I love reading the thoughts and words that come from it. You are an amazing mom with some pretty amazing chitlins. I love y'all. :)

sorichfamily said...

Had a hard time reading through the tears!! What a wonderful family you have! Amazing! And that her!!