When I was little I dreamed of getting married, raising 3 kids and having tons of hustle and bustle at our house that would always be filled with the kid’s friends. Obviously, God had a different plan for me.
I am so happy with my life. I literally fall in love with my husband more every day, and I have two beautiful children that fill my heart and soul. Yet from time to time I still battle the feelings of wanting more kids. Now that’s complicated for a few reasons…. 1) I’m considered high risk for breast & ovarian cancer, so had my ovaries removed as a precautionary measure, 2) I’m probably too “old” to have another baby and 3) there were about 5 years that kicked our butt and left us feeling so exhausted and so unsure of the future and what “autism” would mean for our family that we decided not to have any more kids.
And so I find myself longingly looking at pregnant women and new moms being a little green with envy. I want to relive the feeling of a baby miraculously growing inside me, and experience that joy of watching them grow into young adults…..
And then the ugly side of my envy comes out…. I feel that many of those younger years for Eric were SO hard for me as a mom. He had extreme meltdowns, performed houdini escapes from many places, had countless hours of unexplained crying, battled stomach issues, all with very limited language. I’ve cried countless hours feeling like a failure as a mom because I couldn’t find anything that would make my son “HAPPY.” Isn’t that like a job requirement for a mom? I frequently felt (and sometimes still feel) inadequate.
So I find myself judging the perfect little family with 6 cherubs quietly sitting in church when I still have a hard time getting Eric to make it through an entire mass. I envy the families that get to go on family vacations wherever they want without having to consider if it’s “autism” friendly; I hate that I feel guilty needing so much help from others with babysitting over the years since there are so many places that I know Eric just can’t handle going. I look at pregnant moms and often wonder if will they go through these same emotions some day (knowing the very high rate of autism diagnosis). I struggle a lot with seeing children younger than Eric achieve things that he cannot yet accomplish. Simple things…riding a bike, having a sleepover, joining a club or team, and the biggie…. having friends.
But the #1 thing I struggle the most with, is worrying about Eric’s older sister. I wish she could have a different relationship with Eric. Trust me – they have a very special connection; but in many ways it is very one-sided. It is what it is. Anna has conceded a lot to Eric’s needs and wants; and has missed out on a lot of family time because we have always had to divide and conquer. There are benefits and silver linings to that – as she has gotten some special 1:1 time with each parent that she might not have gotten otherwise. But when I see other siblings together, it just stings my heart a little. Whether they are bickering or laughing, I feel like there is a part of family life that she is never going to experience with Eric. I actually find myself hoping and praying (a lot) that she marries someone someday that has a ton of siblings. And that’s when I always wish I had that 3rd baby! LOL…. I wish that she had someone to conspire with against us, and wish that she had someone who could possibly help her to care for Eric someday should he need extra help. Although I will never expect her to take care of him if he needs it, I already see it…she will. She loves him inside out!
I realize all too often that this is truly MY problem to battle…it’s MY preconceived notion of what I imagined life to be for me and my family. I find that as each year passes I have different emotions that I experience as there are new milestones that go unachieved, or are achieved much much later than peers.
And well, sometimes it also just helps to let it out! So after experiencing a few of these feelings recently, I felt compelled to write about it. I can’t be the only one who has experienced these same feelings. I’m have appreciated being able to read some articles and blogs over the years that have helped me feel less alone. The honest up’s and down’s that someone else has experienced and allowed me to give a virtual hug during a tough day, or hi-5 when their child achieves the unexpected. And in some small way, I hope that my Motherhood Confessional could help some other mom or dad out there who is struggling with some of these same emotions.
Life isn’t what I expected; but it’s been a helluva amazing journey! It’s put a laser focus on what is important in life; and allowed me to be a part of a community that is filled with some pretty amazing people, including my Super Eric. Our journey has been filled with lots of tears and lots of smiles; but mostly it’s been filled with endless hope. I know when I’m old and gray… “These are the days that I’m gonna remember most..…”
(originally posted on Aug 5, 2016 on Bacon and Juice Boxes)