Looking to the Future

I woke up to an interesting email that allowed me to start my day in a contemplative mood, and I'd like to share my answer.

I understand how scary the future can be, how fear can twist one's belly into knots. My oldest is 21; we were told when he was five a whole string of negatives, of things he'd never do, and it was pretty bleak. At nine he had a stroke, and it got bleaker. At 12 we were told to give up hope he'd ever read.

And all of that could have sunk me into despair and sometimes did. But it also galvanized me, pushed me towards action. We had to get guardianship when Bobby was 18. It was rough to accept. He got SSI at 19, when we finally admitted he needed to have that if he wasn't going to work.

But we still haven't given up working with him on building new skill sets, in pushing out past his comfort zones. He volunteers at the animal shelter, and he's grown more confident and capable of talking to strangers. He helps grocery shop and now navigates the store with a list he made out, and he checks out and gets the groceries to the car while I work on my list. He cooks half the meals now, too, digging laboriously through the recipe books and working hard, because this is his dream job: he'd like to be a cook. And we've had some mistakes and missteps, but he continues to grow and build new skills and learn from those mistakes.

And each new skill he masters, even though it takes a while, even though we have to really break it down into the constituent parts and work on it, brings me hope for him. He's not done; his story isn't over, and in the end, he will determine how far he goes. I have to believe in him, in his ability to continue to grow, to show me that he can shine. 

He cannot have hope, he cannot build on those mistakes, if I lose my way, if I quit on him. I know it can be hard and sometimes we have to give ourselves a break. We need to acknowledge our emotions, where we are, accept those emotions, so that if they are holding us back we can move past them.

Our children, even when we think they aren't paying attention, do pick up on our emotional states; they read our despair, our bitterness, our fears, and our worries. They may not know what to do with it, how to react to it, but it resonates through their cores, just as it resonates through us, and I think it's one of the biggest stumbling blocks we face in moving forward.

In the end I have no real answers, no crystal ball on what will become of my children when my husband and I are no longer here; all I can do is arm them with the tools they need to navigate the world, the trust in each other that together they are stronger and more capable than they are alone, and work to make the world a more accepting place so that their lives will be easier, so that their community will be supportive. I cannot control outcomes, and I must relinquish the belief that I can and instead put in place a solid foundation for my three so that they will have plenty to build on. And in that preparation of the foundation, I find my hope, I find my peace, at least briefly. Sometimes that's all we get, and we must learn to live in those moments so that they carry us through darker times and back into the light.

Ultimately it becomes a situation like the bear hunt. We can't go under it, we can't go over it, we can't go around it: we must simply go through it, even though it leaves us shaking and exhausted.


Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Well said. Makes me wonder what the email said? :-)


You do great by your kids, and Bobby is making GREAT strides. Keep up the good work!

kathleen said...

Yes...simply yes. Everything you said. ((()))

farmwifetwo said...

I have one that at 2.5yrs of age we were told would always need care and not to have any big expectations for the future. He's 11.5, verbal, independant, A's and B's in school and will not need that care they talked about. Biggest issues right now are social skills and claustrophobia.

I have another that at 3 we were told it was even bleaker. The same child reads at gr 4, spells at gr 4, still doesn't like to have BM's without being nagged, can figure out how something works at a glance, knows more about the computer than I do, and who's speech level is that of a 2/3yr old.

As I told Dh last night, I'm not only shocked at what he knows, but at those things he doesn't that I think he should.

To quote a tutor we had "they grow, they learn..." Our goal for #2 is to catch up with Bobby. I don't expect him to catch up to his older bro... but he will be given the opportunties to do so. He will go into some form of care as an adult... what that care looks like depends on what happens over the next 10yrs.

That's the way it is and I no longer lose sleep over it. Legally I have crossed all my t's and dotted all my i's. Education... done the same. I'm proud of all of us.

Eric said...

Sometimes you are the light.

KWombles said...

Thank you, guys.

farmwifetwo; you should be proud. You've worked hard and so have your boys.

And they do make progress, some startling leaps that leave me sniffling and tears streaming down my face with the wonder of it all. It's usually coupled with the kick in the shins that there are those more fundamental and basic of understandings that we assume they've got that they demonstrate they don't. And that also leaves me sniffling and tears streaming.

Thank the heavens that around all that is belly laughter at the wondrous and unexpected things they say and do!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. Your attitude is inspirational, and your insights and understanding are both helpful and beautiful.

bbsmum said...

Thank you.

Diane said...

Love what you have to say here. You have a great approach with your kids. Some days it's really hard, but we owe it to them and to ourselves to keep moving forward and to keep reaching higher. We don't get to know or decide the outcome, but we're always enriched by continuing to make the effort and to believe that more is possible.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your sharing this. I was really struck by the mention of how our emotional state affects others. I often wonder how much of my son's difficulties come from the emotional problems I have had in my life. I actually feel quite guilty about that, but I know that all I do is be more aware in the future of how I am impacting him and others around me.

KWombles said...

Thank you, all.

Aspergirl Maybe, I think that we have to give ourselves a break over the past and places where we now realize we could have done differently. We do the best we can; if we knew better, we would do better, and when we figure out how to do things better, we generally do.

The best things we can teach our children is that it's okay to make mistakes, it's okay to admit those mistakes and to learn from them and that the best gift we can give ourselves is the gift of forgiveness. If they see us continually beating ourselves up over things we can't do anything about, they'll take that to heart and do the same. We have to, especially with our kids who have a tendency to fixate, show them that it's okay to move on, to let things go, after we've figured out how to do it differently in the future.