On why I’m NOT sorry about being the mother of a child with autism. And you shouldn’t be either.

Jess from Diary of a Mom posted this this morning along with a picture of her pregnant with Brooke and Katie kissing her stomach:

The other day, I heard a mom say something that I haven’t been able to shake. While talking about her autistic son struggling in school, she said, “I didn’t sign up for this.” 

I want to be clear that what I’m about to say is not judgement. It’s disagreement, but it’s not judgement. I don’t (and can’t) judge her because if I’m being honest with you (and myself), I’m fairly certain there’s been a time when I’ve felt, if not said, the exact same thing. 

But I did sign up for this. We all, upon deciding to become parents, signed up to parent whomever our children turned out to be. Whether we understood it at the time or not, we said, “Yes, I take full and absolute responsibility for the human being that I am about to create – lumps, bumps, joys, challenges, heartache, pride, doubt and all. Every last bit of it, for the rest of my life. I am going to have a child.”

I’m not going to lie and say being Shelby’s mom is great and perfect 100% of the time. No, there are days when it’s a lot of crap both literally and figuratively. But let me let you in on a little secret: it’s like that with my boys too.

I’ve said before that in addition to not finding out the sex of the baby when I was pregnant with Shelby, we did not pray for a healthy baby, but the baby God intended us to have. That’s not an easy prayer. And we knew it opened up endless possibilities. I very openly acknowledged that this entirely opened us up to the possibility of a child who may not live long or who was a genius. Did I “sign up” for having a child with autism more than someone who prayed for a “healthy child?” Absolutely not. But I did sign up for the ultimate trust in God’s wisdom and plan. And I went in with my eyes open. Did it make it easier for me when Shelby was ultimately diagnosed? I don’t know. I know plenty of people who did not think they were capable of raising a child with autism who were relieved and even encouraged once the diagnosis came.

The one thing I cannot say enough though, is don’t be sorry for me. Because I’m not sorry for me. I got EXACTLY what I asked for and I am happy for it. Thrilled for it. My life would not be nearly as wonderful as it is now without Shelby and without autism. Shelby + Autism has brought me people I never would have had the joy of knowing otherwise. Shelby + Autism has made me a more patient, kinder and more understanding person. Shelby + Autism has made me stronger and more outspoken.

I am not sorry to be Shelby’s mom. I’m honored to be. I’m honored God chose me to guide her precious soul and the souls of her brothers in this lifetime. I’m honored Shelby is here to teach me how to grow and be better. How to be the person God intended me to be. I’m blessed to know Shelby has taught her brothers to be kinder, more compassionate and more accepting human beings. They don’t think twice about sitting in her lap when she needs deep pressure or holding her hand in a parking lot or crowded area to make sure she doesn’t get distracted and wander away.

I’m not sure why the reaction is so often, “I’m sorry,” when people hear a child has autism. Nor do I fully comprehend believing you were cheated out of a certain child when autism was diagnosed. I can tell you one thing, God doesn’t make junk and He NEVER makes mistakes. So, maybe this isn’t quite the life you or I or anyone else imagined, but it is the life we signed up for. And I am not sorry, I am thankful.

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