“Thankful,” as cliche as it is with the upcoming of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow is something I am feeling so strongly every day.
Our days have been harder, more stressful, emotional and most of the time I just don’t understand. I sit back in the evenings, once Haidyn has taken the time to wind down and I scroll through Facebook, looking at everyone’s families, children and life events. It is hard to see dear friends and family getting together for regular play dates that aren’t so simple for us anymore. It is also hard to see people in a stage of life that you hope and dream so deeply to be in. You see, we have this routine, that we do try to break at times to help Haidyn cope but other days it is just not worth breaking, for her sanity and mine.
Therapies, school, doctor appointments and every day struggles/anxieties can become consuming and my brain and heart feel like they may drown from the pressure. We are always tired, here. Every day is a new day with an unforeseen future of if it will go as planned. I am so happy to see all of my friend’s children growing and thriving just as they should. Why do they have to grow up SO FAST? They are not babies anymore and it’s extremely bittersweet. I love watching your journeys but I would be lying if I said I didn’t ever feel a little sad or even envious that we aren’t on the same path. Although Haidyn is almost five, mentally she is still about where a two year old may be.
She isn’t potty trained, even the smallest transition can throw off her entire day and speech, understanding and expression of feelings are difficult. Then throw all of the other autism and sensory processing disorder characteristics curveball in there and it gets wild!
Even though I find myself wishing it were easier at times and trying to trust God’s plan for our life, I am completely overwhelmed with a thankfulness and humbleness that I’m not sure I was capable of until she changed our lives. Don’t get me wrong, Autism is not beautiful, it sucks and it is crippling in many ways but it does have it’s beauty and sunshine too.
When Haidyn says a new, multi-syllable word we are so proud. When she puts three or more words together into a complete sentence, even if it’s demanding, my face gleams with the biggest smile. When she plays on a new playground without fear or explosive poop from nerves, I am thrilled. When she participates in therapy activities willingly and shows progress, I am in awe. When she walks with her heels down for the majority of the day and finds even the tiniest bit of focus, my heart is amazed. When she finds little ways to express to me that she is hurting or doesn’t like something, I feel relief. When we walk into Walmart, shop at Walmart, check out at Walmart and make it back to the car without a single meltdown or change in behavior, I feel peace. When I see her face light up to see her daddy, her grandparents, her sissy and her puppies, it justifies that she does have a beautiful heart that loves so deeply even when it’s hard. When she sleeps through the night and wakes up happy, I know we have a great chance at having a really good day.
I am always watching my families interaction and love for her. She has the BEST big sister that is my saving grace most days. I couldn’t do it without her. She plays with Haidyn, helps keep an eye on her (because if we leave her alone for one second she could burn the entire house down) when I need to do a couple of things around the house, and she is accepting and understanding of her special needs. To watch Braelynne’s excitement for Haidyn’s small achievements and successes makes me feel as if I’m doing something right. Braelynne has always had the biggest heart for others and I love seeing it grow even bigger with the things her sister is teaching all of us. She also continues to amaze me with her love for school, her determination in any goal she reaches for and the fact that she is obviously way smarter than her mama.
I am incredibly thankful for my husband, Caleb. I don’t say it enough but I pray every single day that our marriage continues to grow and only strengthen throughout our life time because not only is he the best daddy to our girls but he is the best husband and partner I could’ve ever dreamed of having. He helps pick up my slack when I’m struggling and he is always understanding to his girls needs. He shows me the definition of unconditional love at all times and even on my ugliest days. He is selfless in more ways than one and will do anything for anyone he loves without question. I watch him tire himself out just to ensure all those that need help are taken care of and don’t have to do more than absolutely necessary without his help. He may have a grumpy face most of the time but his heart shows otherwise.
I am thankful for our families. We have more support than we deserve and we could never repay or give enough to show our gratitude. We couldn’t do it without y’all and we love y’all. Caleb and I both come from parents with beautiful marriages and so much love to give to their children and grandchildren. I hope to be even half of the beautiful parents/grandparents that they are and if I am, I’ll say I’m doing okay in this life.
Through all of Haidyn’s struggles and hardest days I continue to find it shining a brighter light on even the smallest positives and progress we see with time. I’ve found myself empathizing with others and their lives more so than ever before. I no longer feel the need to judge another if I’ve never been in their shoes. Almost everyone has a reason behind the way that they are – yes, even the ugliest of people. I suffer with anxiety and depression and most would never know if you ran into me in public. My daughter has severe autism and yet so many people that are around her on her best days or in her “safe places,” will never see the true struggles that lie underneath the surface of her skin.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and spending time at therapy, meeting other moms and learning about their children with all kinds of different disabilities and struggles has brought me an abundance of humbleness and gratitude. It could ALWAYS be worse. Life isn’t fair to any of us but we all have the ability to embrace our hardships and find the beauty in them. The whole “glass half full” perspective has a brand new meaning to me and as we continue to feel lost in our daughter’s diagnosis, we will continue to be incredibly thankful, honest and pure to others about our lives, hopes and dreams.
Life isn’t what I pictured in my head but it never has been. I’ve always struggled with leaving MY PLANS in God’s hands and trusting His plans for my life. I believe He has a funny way of teaching us that His plans are so much greater than ours and I’m okay with that. We have everything we need and beautiful friends and family beside us to walk along this journey of life.
No matter what life continues to throw at us with a force, I will continue to cry when I need to, pray through it all and at the end of every night find thankfulness and the shining light at the end of the tunnel for right where we are in this moment. Life is beautiful if you choose the light instead of the darkness. 💡
A mama/wife of one super-smart, big-hearted, gifted, neuro-typical daughter and another baby girl, with autism and more affection than she knows how to give in any other form than extreme, and an amazing, supportive husband that is my very, best friend.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families and I hope that through the darkness you see the grace God continues to shine upon your life. ✨