This photo was taken over the Scioto River in broad daylight, but thanks to filters it looks like a cross section between day and night. When sleep is elusive for our children with autism and days roll into nights roll that into days… that sultry blanket doesn’t seem quite as enchanted and that line between light and dark not nearly as defined. I’m not certain that A2 has ever slept through the night in his life. For the first several years of his life he was up every 90 minutes or so. I was told to let him cry it out. So I did. And then abandoned the wholehearted attempts after 11 weeks. We have it easier than many. A2’s nighttime visits do not include damaging the house, self harm or escaping, but is instead marked with fitful wandering, bed hopping, laundry for diaper leaks and sometimes a sneaky visit with The Wiggles on the DVR. We wonder if his slow cognitive development and behavioral issues are exacerbated by exhaustion and we try to have patience in our own exhaustion recognizing that if he could sleep, he would. There is no simple answer for the underlying etiology of lack of sleep for kids with autism and hope that my guy doesn’t feel tortured by sleep being just a visitor passing through. In the still of darkness I wonder if I am the only one awake in the world. Shadows turn into demons of an uncertain future and the quiet becomes a deafening blare of anxiety that the hustle and pace of the day drowns out. Perhaps even if A2 could have restful sleep, I am fairly certain that I still would not.
In the month of our 15 year anniversary, I can confidently say we have embarked on a journey neither of us could have expected.
In some ways I wonder if our trek is easier than others since we never had musings of what our unborn children would be like or what kind of parents we would be.
…or if we would be parents at all….
I believe in a judicious balance between predestination and free will. Sort of like walking into a movie complex. You can pick the movie you will see, but once you choose it, the plot and ending remain the same. It is up to you if you decide to leave the theater to get popcorn or simply decide that movie is not for you and you should have never listened to Siskel and Ebert’s reviews to begin with.
All marriages require a gentle balance between cohesiveness and independence….and especially with families like ours. Stress is a constant, sleep deprivation a given, and child rearing? Well, throw out everything you ever thought you knew about that. Not everyone can do that. Usually, the stronger is left holding the bag on their own. I know too many families like that and watch in awe as the parent left behind carries the weight of her world.
Through thick and thin we give each other the space we need, recognizing we are in for the long haul. Our children are who they are supposed to be. We make the same mistakes as every other parent in every other union, but with the knowledge we must be united as forever parents, even long after we are gone. And for that, perhaps we are luckier than most.