One of the most challenging, gut wrenching, growth inducing things about raising Isaac is how many unknowns there are. Isaac had always been way behind his peer group in many areas of development…and although that is challenging in itself, predicting the future is downright impossible. I think unknowns are universal in parenting. No parent knows where their child will end up…but parenting special needs kids…with delays like Isaac’s…brings those unknowns to a whole new level.
I hear of autistic adults, that didn’t talk at 3…but then eventually went on to become leaders in their fields of work. But…as people would remind me of that…I would think of the autistic adults whose stories didn’t unfold that way. That’s not a given. Not every autistic child grows up to shipped off to MIT. I don’t want to bank on that. I want it to be absolutely okay if that’s not my kids’ stories.
But being open to that…facing the unknowns…is very scary. I took these photos of Isaac playing in the leaves last fall. They are adorable…but as I was shooting them I was feeling a lot of anxiety. Isaac was picking up the leaves and reaching them up to the trees, as high as he could. He wanted the leaves back on the trees. He didn’t like that they had fallen off. And I could feel the frustration rising in him. He didn’t understand it…and it was beyond what I was able to explain to him.
I was worried about him melting down over the fallen leaves. But, I also wondered when he would understand this. When will he know that leaves fall off of trees and new ones grow in the Spring? There’s no timeline for this kind of thing when it comes to kids like Isaac. Isaac jumped off that development timeline years ago and is setting his own pace. And that is beautiful and wonderful (really!)…but it does make for a lot of unknowns. That day in the park, I faced the idea that he may not understand this for a long time… and although unlikely, I considered that he may never really understand this. I made room for that and decided that if that is the case, that is absolutely okay. That doesn’t mean I am giving up on him. That doesn’t mean I am obsessing over worst case scenarios. That just means that I am open to whoever he is and whoever he is going to be.
Turns out, I didn’t need to wait too long for Isaac to understand this idea. Now when we are out walking, he points to leaves that have fallen. “Leaves fall from TREES in the FALL.” he tells me. Then…as if to brag…he adds “and the SNOW is coming!”
He’s come SO FAR in this last year. It’s been wonderful to see. He’s still very much his own little guy with his own little timeline. Our future is still wide open with unknowns. But the work I’ve put in (and it’s DEFINITELY work) in facing the unknowns and finding peace with them has been intense and life-changing.
Isaac, you have changed me SO MUCH. And I would never, ever go back.