Your belly bulges. Out there, for all the world to see, comment on, pat and ask questions.
“What’s your due date?” “Will you work outside the home?” “Do you want a boy or a girl?” Many answer that last question this way: “Boy or girl. Just healthy.”
But what about when our children aren’t born healthy? Our culture celebrates the perfect child, but many children are born with differences that don’t match the societal standard of perfection.
I belong to a secret and elite society of parents. Our children don’t meet the golden standards of precious and perfect. My child went to a lot of special programs and didn’t graduate on time with her peers or head off to college. But I, like many others in this special club, know that our journey is not a dead end. It just looks different. Very different.
For me, the wonder of my journey with my daughter, who has autism, is that I get to experience a miracle. It’s about how something that seems imperfect is actually perfect in its own way, a unique gift presented in different packaging. Many cannot see the beauty in this miracle right in front of them.
My miracle is seeing the beauty and joy in a life that’s different from the one I imagined. Indeed, all of us go through things in life that don’t meet our expectations. The trick for me was to release those expectations and see, before me, the miracle of my child just the way she is.
To me, the miracle lies in the lessons my daughter, now a young adult, has taught me. She is the teacher, not I.
She has shown me that I need to raise the bar, not lower it, to help her dream and live the vision of her north star. And let me tell you, that star shines brighter than I could have imagined when my expectations crashed into autism. Grace, my daughter, taught me to dream with her and to fly.
I love miracles. I love my daughter. I love the miraculous way she was meant to be in this perfection-obssessed culture that can’t see the miracles before our very eyes.
Leisa A. Hammett is finishing her second book about the miracles of everyday life with autism and the lessons she’s learned from her daughter. You can read about some of those lessons on her blog www.LeisaHammett.com.