November 13, 2012
As I reflect on the qualities I most admire in my daughter there are so many stories that make me proud to be her mom. One stands out and shows the one quality I am most thankful for in her... I am on her last nerve. Unfazed, I continue my questioning. Mothering a teenager, annoyance is my job. I ask again who this mystery friend is and get a deep sigh because I should know these things, of course. She is in my third hour, we were office assistants together and she is really nice and smiles a lot. You saw her at orientation, Mom. She wears pink all the time. Because I forgot my crystal ball, her description leaves me with nothing. I give up and continue our drive to the first birthday party she has been invited to since beginning high school. Whether I know the birthday girl or not, we are going. Birthday invitations are few and far between when you have autism. As we enter the party, my extremely excited daughter pulls me to the birthday girl and my heart overflows right there in the center of bowling lane 12. Because most people would have said that her friend was the one who could not walk, whose lips formed sounds instead of words, and who travels with a nurse to adjust her feeding tube and oxygen settings. But my daughter doesn’t see any of that. She sees a friend who invited her to a birthday party, who gushes over her presents and sparkles with a smile in her eyes. There are many things about autism that make life a struggle but this part… the ability to see people for who they are and love them where they are at, this part is perfect. I think about this girl’s mother and I know, with certainty, this is what she wants most for her teenage daughter. To be loved for who she is and not defined by a disability. I know this, because this is all I could ever want for my own.
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