I often have to explain to people my son’s disability. Not to be a ‘busybody’ but to educate and explain to them about his special circumstances. Even now, with information easily accessible with a click of a button, I am still awed and quite stunned (for lack of better term) on how uneducated or uninformed some people could be. To be brutally honest, I am not asking for understanding because if it were that then we wouldn’t have a discussion in the first place. But what I do ask for is compassion. Kindness. And let’s face it with today’s society it is easier to be more compassionate and to be kind to someone if you are aware of their circumstances or situation.
Most of the time when people see us, especially during my son’s low moments, people often think that our hardest struggle is his disability. No, it isn’t. Yes, his autism could be challenging but it could be managed and we are managing it, as best as we can. I often hear comments like ‘what a huge sacrifice…’ or ‘how selfless a mother’s love could be…’ and I know people mean well when they say it but I can’t help feel a bit pained when I hear those type of comments, almost the same way I get hurt when I hear someone slander my son. Truthfully, I never thought of it that way. It’s off putting to call what I do for my son ‘sacrifice’ because in the first place I didn’t give up anything. I actually gained something, a lot of things. I could call it selfishness or self-interest on my part because what I do for him is something I do for myself as well. Seeing him progress and accomplish things that I never thought would and could be possible for him is my greatest happiness, if not my highest achievement. If that kind of thought process doesn’t label me as egotistic then I don’t know what will.
As a parent, I consider it my responsibility to give my children every opportunity for growth and development. It is my job to exhaust every possible resource to ensure that my children could and would be the best versions of themselves.
As a special needs parent, I have been fortunate to have access to treatments and therapies that could benefit my child and I have been privileged to have the resources to support and fund such necessities. These treatments and therapies are severely needed and are essential to his growth. The brutal truth is not every special needs parent could afford therapies or not everyone has access to proper treatments. Let me just state that we are not rich but we make do. That is why I am very thankful that I could have these, all of it, for my son.
Speaking of sacrifice and selfless love let me give you a glimpse of what real sacrifice is and show you what selflessness really looks like. It’s what I see every single day for the past one year, seven months and seventeen days (give or take) when I get off the car in the parking lot, after I enter the clinic and take my son to the classroom. It’s embodied on the people who dedicate their time and their lives to make sure that people like me have something to feel good about. Let me just state that these are strangers, whose life and circumstances are unknown to me, but day-by-day they showcase kindness and compassion by taking the children with a smile and aim to teach them skills that would help prepare them for independence and the future.
Note that these are young men and women, barely out of their teens, who should be coddled and spoiled but spoils instead.
They could be partying; wasting their time on nonsensical things that people their age like doing but instead they provide knowledge, give free tips and advices, and are always available to answer questions no matter how packed their schedules are. Take into consideration that these are individuals who could have chosen a different profession, who could have a less stressful job, but chose to follow their passion. They chose to cater to the needs of others instead of themselves and some pursue to further better themselves through study in order to provide more sufficient and effective aid and assistance. These are people who never talk back when nagged at; who feels personally responsible if a child under their care does not improve or develop.
These are young people who think about children, who in essence are not theirs, 24/7. Who constantly worries and doesn’t stop devising ways, thinking of possibilities and solutions in order to help.
I could go on. I could probably write a full-length book about the amount of sacrifice these people do and how much selfless love they display every single day without asking for recognition or gratitude. But words are not enough. Words pale in comparison to their dedication, devotion, perseverance and keenness.
I am an ungrateful person, I admit. It’s not that I am not thankful it’s just that I do not know how to properly express my gratitude. If I have been remiss, I sincerely apologize.
You know who you are and I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate you. You probably have no idea how much you have saved me, not just once or twice but countless of times. You gave me hope. You gave me strength. You gave me purpose. You are a role model and will forever be my hero. Without you, we would still be lost. Without you, we would still be ignorant and uninformed.
Being on a team whose goal is one and the same is exceptional. You gave me that and more. It’s been a privilege to know you and to have you in our lives. Now, I know I am not worthy but if you ever think or have any doubt of your self-worth, let me just tell you that you are enough, you have done enough. But since you are a great person and a wonderful individual you will strive harder and you could and would do better. And for that I am grateful for you.