Posts Tagged ‘fathers’

Feeling Thankful, Part One

November 23, 2008

Ok, so I really have not been a prolific blogger as of late. I guess I could throw out some legitimate excuses…no one will blame a busy father of a 3-year-old with autism for not taking the time to write in his blog on a regular basis. Some days I do actually have a free moment or two, but just don’t feel like writing. Or other days the only things I can thing to write about are very depressing. Not that expressing some raw emotion is a bad thing, but I like to write some posts that at least have a measure of hope.

It’s so easy for me to get down in the dumps and start thinking that everything in my life is going down the tubes. People will say ‘You have so much to be thankful for!’ and depending on my mood I may be inclined to just roll my eyes. But you know, it is true. Even though every day brings some sort of unexpected challenge, I do have a lot to be thankful for.

Being that Thanksgiving is just a few days away, this seems like a good week to write some posts on what I am thankful for at the moment. I don’t know if Oprah is a faithful reader of this blog but she’d be happy to see that this week my blog will turn into an ‘attitude of gratitude’ journal or whatever she calls it.

Right now I am so thankful for the renewed interest my son has in me lately. Like most little guys his age (autism or typical) he has always favored his mommy. I know he loves me, but when push comes to shove, I’m usually the one that gets shoved out of the way. I would try to force my way in there to be part of his little world, and he’d let me be close by, but most days I could go somewhat ignored, especially if my wife is anywhere in the vicinity.

But for some reason these last couple of weeks, Josiah has taken quite a shine to me. Even with my wife in the same room, he’s coming up to me, grabbing my hand, and taking me on all his little adventures. It started innocently enough one day when I saw an exercise ball nearby and I picked him up and started bouncing him on it. He got such a big kick out of that and pretty much everyday he brings me down to the basement to play ‘bouncy’ as he calls it. I just love the look of sheer delight he gets on his face when we play together and for once I feel like I’m playing ‘correctly’ with him. He asks for something, I deliver. We both have fun. It seems so simple yet it has brought me new life.

Even more amazing than the bouncing is that Josiah now will also request for me to come into his room to sit on my lap in the rocking chair and sing some songs with him. Now this might not sound like a huge deal, but in our home this is pretty big stuff. His world pretty much revolves around songs, so if you get to be the singer it’s pretty huge. He’s always loved doing this with my wife but I can only remember a couple of times that I got the coveted position in the rocking chair and it was always when she wasn’t home for an evening.

I love the way he snuggles up to me on the chair and wiggles with delight when I sing his favorite songs. Right now the Christmas songs are pretty popular. I feel like a DJ spinning some tunes at a club. I start with a little ‘Jingle Bells’, or as Josiah calls it ‘Jingul Bulls’ and then move to a little ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas,’ ‘Deck the Halls,’ and maybe a little ‘Rudolph’ if time permits.

So for this holiday week I first give thanks for my son’s new fondness for me. I pray that it lasts because it has done my heart so much good. And it’s the most use that exercise ball has ever had in our house!

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Best Birthday Gift

July 17, 2008

I’m sure all of you have this marked and circled on your calendars, but my birthday is quickly approaching. I’m getting to the age where I’m finding there’s not much I need for my birthday anymore. Although if you were planning on buying me an iPhone or something, feel free to proceed as planned. Long gone are the days where I had a huge list of things I wanted for presents and you eventually hit a certain age where you can pretty much eat anywhere you want anytime you want, so it’s not as big a deal to go to a certain restaurant for your special day. I would love to go to the Bump ‘n Tilt though. That’s a North Dakota reference for those scratching their heads right now. It was THE place to have your birthday party when I was a lad. All the videogames and bumper cars you could play for one price all afternoon plus frozen Cokes.

Anyway….as I age, I find I value the little things more. For a day like my birthday, just getting to spend some extra time with my family or share some laughs at work is enough.

Yesterday something happened that I believe is the best early birthday present a guy could ask for.

When I went to pick up my son from his therapy center yesterday they were excited to tell me a story. They said a few minutes after I dropped Josiah off earlier that day, he started to get sad. They figured he wanted a certain toy or maybe was hungry or something. So they asked him what he wanted. He said, ‘Dad.’

For many of you reading this that might just sound like a cute story but nothing overly remarkable. But for the parent of a child with autism, that’s pure gold. We are so fortunate that our little guy is verbal, but calling us by the names ‘Dad’ or ‘Mom’ is something that really doesn’t ever happen. He did use those words a bit before he was 18 months when we noticed him regress into autism, but ever since it’s been few and far between.

Most days it doesn’t even dawn on me that I don’t get called ‘Dad.’ I’m just happy we’re making the progress we are and that he does use a lot of words. But I’ll have to admit I see other kids running up to their parents and saying ‘Daddy!’ and I start hurting inside a bit. 

It was the perfect day for this to happen too (and not just because my birthday is approaching). I had kind of a crappy day yesterday before I picked him up. Nothing too serious…just tired and feeling a bit down. But to get the news I did sure gave me a huge boost.

So when my birthday comes around next week, I really don’t need anything else (although if you already bought me something you might as well still give it to me and I will happily accept it!). Just knowing that my little guy said my name and also was missing me is present enough.

What, me worry?

April 30, 2008

I’ve always been something of a professional worrier.

When I was little I was always worried about dying. All it would take was having a simple stomache and I would ask my parents, “Am I going to die?” “Am I going to be ok?” As I got older I graduated to more common worries that I suppose most people have like school, relationships, jobs, etc.

When my wife and I first got married, I actually wasn’t that worried about being a husband. It didn’t seem like rocket science to me. I knew it would take work, but I also knew that by doing the things that made us such a great couple before we were married (communication, prayer, etc.) that we would have an awesome marriage. And we have all these years.

But the thought of being a parent was definitely something that gave me cause for worry. I could wrap my head around being married, but being a parent? Now that was something I just couldn’t comprehend or even imagine that I’d be very good at.

When we found out my wife was pregnant, I was naturally thrilled…and also racked with worry! I had what I guess would be the typical first-time father worries, but also the nagging suspicion that somehow things wouldn’t work out for me like they do for most people.

In addition to the lifetime battle with worry, I’ve also had my share of esteem issues all these years. Where this comes from I haven’t a clue. I’ve always had an incredibly supportive family, teachers, friends, etc. and for the most part I’ve avoided any colossal failures throughout my life. But for some reason I always am convinced that I won’t be able to live the life that I imagine other people do.

This way of thinking has affected me throughout college, jobs, etc. I even remember being convinced that I would be one of the only people in the world who wouldn’t be able to figure out how to drive a car.

Anyway…back to the point I was trying to make. I was so worried and convinced that I would be a horrible parent or that something would be wrong with my child. So it was a great relief to me the day our son was born. I didn’t pass out in the delivery room. I was actually somewhat helpful and supportive in there too if I do say so myself. (This should have come as a surprise. During one of our pre-birth classes, we watched a video of a birth and when the baby’s head starting coming out, I leaned over to my wife and said, “What the heck is that?!”)

I was so relieved to see that my son had 10 fingers and 10 toes and that he didn’t seem to have any kind of birth defects. This doesn’t mean I still wasn’t a total wreck (I almost barfed/crapped my pants when it came time to leave the hospital) but I was gaining a little confidence.

In the weeks/months that followed, I still had my share of worries/anxieties about everything in life, but I felt like I was learning this Dad job pretty well. I was changing poopy diapers, getting him to eat, having a blast playing with him, etc.

For some reason, I did have this nagging suspicion that something wasn’t quite right, but everyone always told me that boys developed slower so I tried not to dwell on it too much. But of course, the good times didn’t last and we soon learned of our son’s autism diagnosis. While it seemed to me that everyone else I know gets to have this awesome parenting experience, my path suddenly would be much different.

So what’s the point of my rambling today? Well, if you’re a worrier/hypochondriac like me, then having to deal with autism really is not fun. Now on top of the autism, we’re dealing with all the toxic buildup my son has. It’s starting to really wear me down. In the past on a good day, I felt lucky to make it through without having a nervous breakdown. Now, this worrier gets to think about all things autism, toxins, getting toxins out of the house, getting my son to eat, etc.

This is probably the worst possible scenario I can imagine for the perpetual worrier/hypochondriac. Everywhere I look now I’m convinced something is poisoning my son. Even if we’re able to do the chelation effectively and get this crap out of his body, who knows how much junk is floating around out there that can still get in.

Fortunately for the world, I’m not a person with very destructive tendencies. When dealing with something like this, I can see where some people go off the deep end and do things to try to escape. I guess my only real vice for me so far has been a bit of eating stuff I probably shouldn’t. But unless I gain 200 pounds, I guess there could be worse things.

Sorry for writing a mini-novel today. You may be thinking that I shouldn’t ‘worry my pretty little head off.’ That might be sound advice, but unfortunately I’m bald.

A Letter To My Son

April 24, 2008

I don’t know where the time has gone.
It seems like only yesterday that we were planning for your arrival.
I worried so much about my abilities to take care of you.
Could I change a diaper? Could I hold you correctly? Could I calm you when you were sad?
It’s as if I’ve blinked and now you’re a beautiful little boy.
Curlyhaired, dimpled cheeks, the bluest of blue eyes.
A two-and-a-half year old free spirit who has captured my heart.
I feel like I’ve failed you.
I told you I would protect you and keep you safe.
But even with all my best efforts, you were diagnosed with autism.
How did this happen?
Was it the vaccines?
I had a sinking feeling every time you were immunized that this could be a mistake.
I may not have done the best job of protecting you then, but I will give every last ounce I have to helping you heal and recover.
I certainly do not love you any less because of your autism, but because I love you so much, I will fight for you.
Therapy, biomedical treatments…whatever it takes.
The world may tell me to cope with autism, but I will instead hope for a better life for you.
I will not let autism define your life.
You will choose your own path in life.
Autism will not choose it for you.
Whatever job you desire, relationships you seek, will be your choice, not the choice of autism.
I have never loved anyone in this world the way I love you and because of that it is my duty and honor to do all I can for you.
From the moment you were born I knew our little family was destined for greatness together.
Let our journey to your recovery be our finest hour.
We will show the world that we will not let autism take over our lives.
Someday you won’t always be so little.
But you’ll always be my beautiful son.

Love,
Dad