Today I rushed out of work at lunch and did some errands before our latest snow festival begins tomorrow. While out, I remembered Valentine’s Day is Friday, and I had picked up nothing for my husband yet, so I bought him a small gift.
February 14, 2014 · 4:30 am
Anyway, I scurry back to work and later proudly told a colleague that I just barely remembered to get a Valentine’s Day gift for my husband. She then asked what I got for my son, and I realized, huh, nothing.
He had completely slipped my mind. Initially, I felt awful about this, but then I realized I could make him Valentine’s Day brownies or something else, and he would never know I got a gift for my husband and not him. And the fact that I slipped and forgot my son and not my husband is huge in our family, and here’s why.
In the 3.5 years since my son has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, my husband has very often been forgotten. Not with gifts per se, but forgotten all the same. Or put behind my son. He didn’t need me as much you see. And some of that is appropriate–children do need their parents more after all, and when your child has special needs, he or she needs more help than your average child.
When my son was diagnosed, I was frightened. I didn’t know what the future held for him, and I spent my early days reading information that was frankly, scary. I wondered if he would one day be self-sufficient or if he would need some care the rest of his life. I wondered if he would be able to hold a job. Have a family. Or make a few friends. And I wanted a better future for him than what I was reading about, so I jumped on the therapy/reading/school/playdates/see a specialist/more therapy/more reading/more playdates/more therapy/see another specialist/not doing enough/more therapy/more activities/more reading bandwagon and searched for the magic combination of activities/treatments that would help my son. And I did this until I realized not everything about him needed to change. He needed more help learning to do certain things, but many things about him were and are fine.
Anyway, with all of this searching for answers, my relationship with my husband took a backseat. There was no time left in the day for him (well not much), I had no energy for him, and he did not share my mania for “fixing” our son. He liked him pretty well the way he is, and spent his free moments playing with him. Just playing, which annoyed me at the time, but I now see was so important for our son. But our relationship drifted and limped along. It took a health scare for me last summer to remember how much this man meant to me. That while I love our son with an intensity I’ve never felt before, I love my husband deeply as well. This was the man who I had chosen to be my spouse, to create a life together, and in the process of helping my son, I had created a life for my son and myself, not much time for the other guy in my life. And at that point, our son was doing pretty well, and had learned to do things I wasn’t sure he would at the beginning–learned to speak, write, function in a class setting, and made a couple friends. So over the last few months, I have been making an effort to spend more time with my husband. Also, more time to rediscover my old interests.
So at this point, love came before fear. My fear of all the what-ifs surrounding my son’s diagnosis is no longer obscuring the other people and delights in life. My son is doing pretty well, and there can and should be room for other people and things in my life again. Because an autism diagnosis doesn’t mean your entire existence must involve seeking a fix for someone who isn’t broken. There is room for other things and other people.
Like my husband. Happy Valentine’s Day!