Leo's passed the eleven and a half years mark. I feel like I'm finally hitting my stride as an autism parent, in terms of accepting Leo on his own terms, and not giving a damn about the imaginary "easier" alternate reality society thinks I'm supposed to pine after. This means I think a lot about the information and attitudes I'd have wanted to jack, Neuromancer-style, straight into my brain eight years ago so I could instantly be the parent Leo needed me to be.
And that's silly -- neural enhancements aside -- because instant downloads do not equal instant attitude adjustments. There's often no substitute for experience constructed out of progressive, natural epiphanies. Still, that experience can be altered dramatically by external factors, like consistent exposure to positive attitudes and helpful perspectives; they shape our final outlook as parents and as people. So I'm going to dole out some perspective, and attitude.
I think a lot about gratitude. Appreciating what I have -- and I have a lot, as does autism parent Marie Myung-Ok Lee. Appreciating Leo and his sisters for who they are. Thinking about what we do have, what we get to do (see local hike photos below), and recognizing the poisonous futility of dwelling on what we don't.
|Leo does love benches along the trail|
|Early evening summer hike|
|Poison oak can be beautiful, too|
|Found structures along the trail|
I wish I'd known how important gratitude is, earlier. I wish I'd had someone shake me by the shoulders and to tell me to focus on my giggly, sweet Leo and what he can do, on helping him do more, on putting my energies into on helping him build his best possible present and future. On searching out role models in both the parenting (what it's like to be Leo's mom) and autistic (what it's like to be Leo himself) communities, all of whom understand which parts of our lives are genuinely challenging, and which parts are a matter of what Leo's godfather Michael calls "attitude recalibration."
|210° panorama from the hike's hilltop. Embiggening encouraged.|