When she was young the reminders were right in front of me…

children talking in full sentences, baby book pages I was unable to complete, the furrowed brow of our hundredth specialist.

The weight of her diagnosis, the uncertainty of her future,coping with reminders hunched my shoulders and exhausted me while giving me energy all at once.

I shrugged off that weight until I stood taller, more certain of who she was, a tiny bit comfortable with an unknown future.

And then the future was now.

We are here, heading to adulthood and I know. I am certain that we don’t need the college financial aid application that just came in the mail. We will not be making plans for driver’s education after school and I can delete every email reminder for ACT prep.

I also know that I should be okay with all of this. My daughter is a happy, confident teenager who has made amazing progress. I tell myself this every time I am given a reminder of what isn’t.

But sometimes I am surprised at that familiar sting, how quickly it can return. I drop the college information flyer into the trash just as swiftly as the preschool roundup advertisement that mistakenly arrived 15 years ago.

We are still headed in our own direction, they have the wrong address once again. The sound of ripping another unnecessary reminder is just as satisfying as it has always been.

I head upstairs and stop my daughter’s chair as she spins, her head tilted as she smiles. I hug her because she will let me and I need what only she can give…

a reminder that life is fine just as it is.

About Jessica

Jessica is a 30-something mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. On any given day you will find her taxi-ing a teenager, mopping up the latest "art project" and trying to remember when she turned the crock pot on… all the while, looking for the closest Starbucks drive thru. Jessica Watson can also be found at her personal blog Four Plus an Angel, on twitter (@jessbwatson) and on Pinterest.

16 thoughts on “Reminders

  1. I love this so much. I can’t even begin to tell you. Life is not always perfect, it’s not what we thought it would be, and sometimes it’s super hard to say that.

    But it needs to be said that even when life isn’t perfect, it can still be fine.

    Beautiful work, Jessica.

    • It’s funny to still be caught off guard by things that sting even when your kids are older but it does happen. I’ve noticed it so much more as we near the end of high school. Too many emails about financial aid and college.

    • Thanks so much Jo. There are things that get better but then there are those things that can always bring you right back to the beginning and I think they always will.

  2. Great post Jessica! The reminders are there at every stage. The one that stung the most is when I attempted to throw Lily a “typical” birthday party last year and no one responded. I was crushed and defeated. I vowed not to give up…we threw her a party but it was in Lily style…”non-typical”

    • Oh that makes my heart hurt just reading it. It is hard enough to put ourselves out there but when we do and it doesn’t work the way we planned it’s that much worse.

  3. Oh wow, talk about an article hitting home for me as I’m bawling in my cubicle trying to finish out my work day!

    It was about a year ago this time during preschool parent teacher conferences that I asked, “I’ve been working so hard at his speech. Do you think it’s more than just a developmental delay?” and I heard the reply that would change my life, “Well, it could be autism, but don’t worry about it now.”

    It’s been a year since I started my “Mother of Autism” journey. The IEPs, the diagnosis, the therapy sessions, the books, the OVERLOAD! There has been hard work. There have been meltdowns. There has been worrysome days and sleepless nights. I have hope that life can be some-what normal, but I also have realistic expectations that it probably wont.

    Thank you for reminding me that life is just fine the way it is.

    • Truly Megan you will get to a day where this life IS normal and you won’t remember it any other way. For all the challenges, I wouldn’t change it. I have learned so much from my daughter and I promise it gets easier as the years go on.

  4. A beautiful post. I’m not in the “it’s different, but it’s fine” place yet. When does that happen? The girls were diagnosed last year, although we’ve known something was up since they were 1 year to 15 months or so. At this point, I feel like I’m still trying to figure out how to maximize the early intervention years as much as possible. And, unfortunately, still mourning the loss of the typical. So, when does that change?

    • Honestly I think it takes quite a while. I spent a very long time comparing where we were to where other kids were and it was just painful. It finally hit me one day that that wasn’t getting either of us anywhere and I slowly moved forward from there. Overtime I learned to appreciate a whole different set of gifts that parenting brings when you have a child with autism and you will too :).

  5. Wow, this is well written. Perfect. And it really hit home. I had all kinds of expectations of what my kids would do and so far, like you, we have traveled a slightly different road. Instead of soccer, we have OT. Instead of Little League, we have LEGO Club. But, my son is happy, so it’s me who has to let go of those old expectations. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Exactly Patty, although some times I think we need to give ourselves a second to deal with the feelings instead of being too hard on ourselves and insisting we must appreciate every bit of it. Sometimes it’s just tough, no matter where you are at in the journey.

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