Some days I scroll through my news feed on Facebook and see countless photos of my smiling friends and their cheerful, well-adjusted, successful children. (Of course, appearances may be deceiving, but still, it all looks good in the photo.) I click “like” or make a comment (or sometimes both). I’m happy for them. I am. Truly.
Most days that’s it. I leave the computer or iPad feeling grateful that my friends shared a bit of their lives with me. I’m glad to see their children growing and thriving.
Every so often, however, all these photos and posts start to gnaw at me. I see the son departing for college or the daughter winning an award and I feel a little depressed because it’s unlikely I’ll ever make a post like that. I see the 20-year wedding anniversary photo and feel a shiver of regret. My unplanned life veered so far off course that these milestones I once took for granted as an integral part of my life story are now unattainable. Or close to it. As the very least, I cannot begin to take them for granted.
Perhaps that’s the point. My unplanned life is now one in which nothing—not the college-attending child or the emotionally healthy marriage—is taken for granted. Every milestone, every achievement, is celebrated as the accomplishment—and in all likelihood, the struggle—that it was (and is).
Is that the point?
Because on these darker, bleaker days I need to find meaning in the ongoing struggle I face as a single mother of a barely verbal autistic child. I mean, if I had to adopt a child with special needs, why couldn’t I have a healthy twenty-plus-year marriage to the love of my life? Or be a single mom with a typically functioning child? Why did I have to hit the jackpot in the life disaster lotto?
Really, why me?
I will probably never know the answer to those questions. And on my better days, I’d say, why not me? Because my life is pretty darn good just the way it is: autistic child, wonderful boyfriend, furry dog, and goofball cat. Sure, there are things I’d like to change, but overall, my life is not that bad.
I’m grateful for what I’ve got, and most of all, for my amazing, beautiful, funny, talented daughter. No, she might not ever fly off one late summer day to an East Coast university. But you know what? I’m okay with that, regardless of the type of day I’m having.
And today is a good one….
Until next time,