It is so easy to become consumed by all the things that my children are not able to do, because of their autism. I’m constantly reminded by social media, doctors, teachers, and simply meeting typical children that Max and Dempsey are different. Unfortunately for me, this has been the source of immense despair, anxiety, and depression. There are days, and have been weeks, when I cannot bring myself to leave the house. I am paralyzed with fear and uncertainty not just about their long-term futures, but even about day-to-day tasks requiring me to take them in public. I feel an immense amount of pressure sometimes, that I am the only one who can understand them. My own body tried to protect me the only way it knew how and I gained 20 pounds. Part of me knows that all of these emotions are irrational, but anyone who has experienced this dark, advesarial power knows it is very real. The irony is that Max and Dempsey are oblivious. They are innocent. They have no awareness whatsoever of the attitudes, judgements, or lonliness that swirls about them. I have no doubt that they are protected.
In the midst of this darkness, there is so much love. The steady devotion of a loving spouse. Friends who followed promptings to text or call me to come out. Family who quietly served me and my children. I began reading the Book of Mormon and heard the voice of the Lord speaking to me that I was not alone in the darkness. I recieved Preisthood blessings that offered peace and guidance. I went to the Holy Temple and felt for the first time in months that the darkness was subsiding.
Nothing about my circumstances has changed. It’s still hard. I still don’t know what the future will hold. But as I do those things that I know keep the darkness at bay, there are more happy days than hard days. I am able to see my children as the Lord sees them and not as the world sees them.
Everyday Max is becoming more and more my little man. He is a such a good-hearted soul. He tries so hard to understand and listen when I am giving him instructions. He has an immense fascination with phonics and loves to over-emphasize the sounds of letters and words. He is not conversational and does not call me Mom or address anyone by name, however, he loves to do funny voices. He is our little parrot and Adam and I get the biggest kick out of making him imitate funny lines from shows and movies. He just laughs at us trying so hard to get him to do it. He LOVES hats. He sees one he has to put it on, then have Adam put it on and go back and forth over and over. He likes to look in the mirror at himself with different hairstyles and hats on and listen to himself talk. Lately his has become very emotional. It’s all appropriate responses to situations, yet it breaks my heart, because I know there is so much unnecessary frustration because he doesn’t have the words tell me what he needs and wants. He is generally happy and loves to tease and laugh. He loves when Dad comes home from work everyday and chases him around the house. He repeats what Adam says to him “Imma-catchoo”(I’m gonna get you) so that Adam will chase him. We love Maximus so much!
Dempsey is living up to her namesake of being a fighter(have I mentioned this before?). At any rate, she is a very determined little spirit. There were about 3 weeks in January where there was no living with her. Nothing we could do would make her happy. Tantrums consumed most of her awake time. It was exhausting mentally and emotionally on all of us. Lately though, she seems to have turned a bit of a corner. She appears to be understanding a little bit more language. She is not so quick to fly off the handle if I say no, or if she isn’t being understood immediately. She doesn’t use language to communicate at all, but she has learned that she can lead us by the hand and help us understand. She has these moments during the day when she can sit on my lap for a whole five minutes and just engage with me. You don’t know how special that is to me. She’ll touch my face, giggle, want to play little teasing games, she LOVES when I mimic sounds that she is making. It’s almost like I get to go into her world for a brief moment…but then just like someone shuts off a light, she’s done, gone, and I wait for the next time she lets me in. We have begun to hear her little voice. She has started to memorize some songs and the alphabet and sometimes singing is our only way of talking to her. Love that little spitfire, I could burst!
I love how they both put their blankets over their heads when they go to sleep. I love how they both still need their baby blankets even though they are 3 & 4. I love(& don’t love) how Dempsey drags the bar stool all over the house so she can reach things. I love Max’s wicked dance moves when he hears some music he loves. I love how Dempsey always has to have something in each hand…two toys, two snacks, two crayons. I love that even though they have never called me Mommy, they still cry when I leave them, miss me when I’m gone, and are happy when they see me again. I love being their mom.