The Future of Autism

As mothers, we all wonder (and sometimes worry) about our children’s futures.  Will they have a job they love?  Will they be world changers?  Who will they marry and when?  Will they have children?  Will they make the same parenting mistakes I have made?

It can be fun to speculate.  It can be concerning as we see their personalities develop and we realize how much they are like us.  How do we help them avoid the pitfalls we have fallen into?

As an autism mother, however, nothing angries up my blood quite like the people who assume that my son will not have a future.  That he will not be capable of an education.  Will not be eligible for employment.  Will have no meaningful relationships outside of our family.

Like you, I would love to have a crystal ball to give me a glimpse into what lies ahead for my children.  I’d love to see my oldest use her intuitive and compassionate heart to help the hurting.  To see my youngest use her big personality to speak out for those who can’t speak out for themselves.

I’d love to see my son show the world that life on the spectrum does not condemn him to a “Rain Man” existence.

I get asked, from time to time, what my expectations are for his future.

I don’t know.  I can make guesses.  I can tell you what my hopes are.  I can also tell you what my deep dark fears are – but I won’t.  I’ve already given fear enough of my time in the depths of depression.  I’ve torn down my camp there and refuse to linger any longer.

Mama’s, we have those worst-case scenarios that float through our imaginations, but I implore you not to give them you time and energy.  Even if those situations are actually what come to pass, dwelling there now would do nothing but rob us of today’s joy.

Not long ago, I was discussing the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) we have set up for the kids when I was asked, “You mean, for the girls?  You’re not setting one up for your son, are you?”.

The words that came out of my mouth were, “Of course we have an RESP for him too.”

The words that floated through my mind were significantly less, ladylike.  Who on earth was she to assume that my son had no educational future?

The fact is that I don’t know when, where, if he will obtain a post-secondary education.  But the same is true for my girls.  I don’t know what their futures hold.

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have a big God.

God knows the future for all three of my kids, because He holds their futures.

So what’s a mama to do?  Pray.  Trust.  Pray.  Do everything in my power to point my kids toward Jesus.  Pray.  Trust.  Repeat.

 

Leaps and Bounds

A beautiful thing happened last night.  A dream that I had long given up on came true; my son said, “I love you, mama.” to me completely on his own!

He’s said it before with prompting, or copying his sisters, but never on his own.

I was laying down with him, trying to help him sleep, gave him a kiss on the forehead and he said it.

“I love you, mama.”

His bed may have been cramped, what with sharing it with every stuffy in the room, and crazy hot (he sleeps with a heavy sleeping bag AND a weighted denim blanket) but in that moment, there was no where in the world I would have rather been.

Nowhere!

I can remember the first time my girls uttered the same phrase, and it was heartwarming and special and one of those moments that I treasured in my heart.  I’m not trying to downplay their accomplishments, but I knew the moments would come with them, it was just a matter of “when”.  With my boy, it has always been an “if”.

Two weeks ago was another leap.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of where my son is on the spectrum, is his inability to communicate pain and sickness.  Again, the girls can tell me if it’s a tummy ache or a scraped knee.  With him, however, if I can’t actually see the incident it’s little more than a guessing game.  This particular day, he was upset about a “boo-boo” – not uncommon.  I asked, as I always do if I can’t see it, where the boo-boo was.  I expected him to simply restate that he was suffering from a boo-boo when he surprised me again.

“On my arm.”

Wait. What?

This ability to explain his pain has just opened up a whole new world to our family.  No more guesses (well, not as many), no more frustration.  He can say it and I can help him!

Your child’s stumbling block may not be words.  Perhaps it’s trying a new food, sitting in a waiting room and NOT needing the iPad, tolerating a public event without headphones on.  Whatever it may be, celebrate each tiny victory as though your child has just won Olympic gold.  Quite likely, he/she has worked harder to reach this milestone than many medalists!

In a month from now, when the memory has faded and this new step is part of everyday life, remember it when your child seems to be reverting.  Those days when you’re exhausted from the fight.  When your already shattered heart sustains more damage because it’s just not fair that someone so wonderful should have to work so very hard to do the things everyone else takes for granted.  On those hard days, remember the good.  Don’t just remember what he achieved that day, remember his smile because he KNEW what a breakthrough he’d made.  Remember that for that moment, your heart was whole and soaring.

Remember that moment and start looking ahead to the next one.  Never stop dreaming big, big dreams for your kids.

Remember that the victories you’ve already had, you probably never expected.  The one you’re not expecting in the future will happen.

It’s coming, mama.

Confessions of a Lazy Mom

I was the perfect wife and mother…until I got married and had kids!

If you read my original post, My Unexpected Journey, you’ll see that I had big plans about how life would go.  I also had plans about my plans and back up plans for all these plans.  Every eventuality was covered.

It must be understood that these plans hinged on the fact that my children would be perfect angels…because I would be the perfect mother.  This I failed to have a back up plan for, since there was just no scenario I could dream up that would include normal kids.

Eight years into marriage and six and a half of those being a mother tell a different story.  It must be understood that much of my current state of being is hinged on the fact that I’m tired!

By the time my first baby started sleeping through the night, I was one month away from baby number two so my nights were constantly being interrupted by third trimester pregnancy stuff.  By the time he started sleeping through the night I was well on my way to baby number three.  Baby number three has only recently started sleeping through the night – just in time for number two to have not infrequent interruptions to his sleep.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me, just making excuses,  stating a fact.

So here’s how my standards for perfection have taken an unexpected twist.

  1. Fifteen Minutes per Week

That’s how long my house is clean to the standard that I’d allow my mom in with her white gloves.  In a previous post, Meaningful Minimalism, I mentioned that I have one day set aside for full house cleaning.  I find that on a good week I have roughly a 15 minute window to survey all I see and be impressed with myself.

The ever so important lesson I have learned in this is that for the other 10065 minutes that my house is, uh, less than stellar, it’s okay.  That doesn’t mean that I like the way it looks most days – but that I have come to understand that a messy house doesn’t make me a bad person.

2.  Quiet Time – It’s not just for babies anymore

I am an introvert.  I need time by myself to recharge.  This is not easily accomplished with a husband, 3 children and a part-time job.  Did I mention that I home school?  So said children are never “off at school”.

My older 2 children get some quiet time in the afternoon while the youngest naps.  This is also my quiet time.  I either read, watch a “mommy show” on Netflix or call/message friends – guilt free of any household task.  I have learned that my oldest also benefits from this time on her own and it makes for a much smoother afternoon for all of us.

3. So I Saw This Thing on Pinterest

So many of my organizational ideas have come from Pinterest!  Crafts or activities for the kids, home school ideas, recipes and “Life Hacks” that I use originate here as well.

4. Kids are washable

This is a lesson that my husband has had to teach me, and continues to remind me of.  I don’t need to hover over the children constantly to keep them in pristine condition.  The grime they get on themselves will come off.  Although, my youngest is learning that the grease from daddy’s tractor often takes a harder scrubbing or an extra day or two!

5.  I don’t reinvent the wheel

Many wives and mothers have gone before me and I love to glean from their knowledge and experience!

I adore mentorship and make a point to partake of these types of relationships whenever possible.  I have had official mentors in my life – the kind where I ask her if she is willing to take on a project as complex as me, and I have had relationships with women who I just learn from.

I listen to their stories with intent of learning and applying wisdom to my own situation and admire them for being real with me.

As I struggled to potty train my son, I would think back to a story I was told roughly 15 years ago by a mother who had struggled in a similar way with one of her sons.

As I delve into year 2 of homeschooling, I seek out every homeschooling mother I know (or simply know of) to pepper with questions.  The list could go on and on.

The mentoring relationship isn’t always advice based, however.  There are women whom I trust that I learn all types of life lessons from.  A dear friend and I were having coffee awhile ago and I took the opportunity to invite her to speak into my life.  To offer loving correction when she sees me mess up and to tough love me when I may be feeling a little sorry for myself.

If you have never thought of being mentored, I urge you to consider it!  Find someone who you respect, have similar values to and are able to spend time with on a somewhat regular basis.  Then be really brave and tell this person that they are allowed to point you in the right direction when your compass may be a little off.  I can promise you that you will be better for it!  And perhaps someday you can be that person to someone else.

 

So offering myself grace has made a world of difference to my whole family.  When mama’s relaxed, the whole family is relaxed!  Of course there are times when things just need to get done and fun has to fall by the wayside, but my goal is to make those times the exception rather than the rule.

What has life taught you?

Wendy

How a Puppy Almost Ruined Us

The whole process really started a few years ago when the kids began bugging us for a dog.  Back then the answer was easy… “I’m NOT potty training a dog until all my kids are potty trained.”.  I still had one in diapers and one on the way so this seemed like a safe statement to me.

Unfortunately, what I saw as a good excuse my children took as a promise.  This spring/summer marked a glorious new, diaper free chapter in our lives and I lived in blissful contentment…and then the begging started.

The “NO” came easily enough at first.  I’ve had dogs, I know how much work they are.  I’m not ready to deal with another creature’s poo yet.

Then I’d have days where my heart was a little softer but my husband would give the firm NO.  Or he’d have a soft-hearted day but I was firm.  Then both of our hearts started to soften at the same time.

We’d go into the city and see the pet stores or the pet supply aisles and sigh a little.  Then we’d wander in a little and just look around.

You can imagine what happened next.  Yep – we went to the SPCA and met the sweetest, cutest, cuddliest little pup!  He snuggled up into my neck and I was jelly.  I caught myself rocking and bouncing him like a tiny baby.  We paid the deposit but had to wait two more weeks to take him home as he needed another vaccine and to be neutered.

Those weeks were spent puppy proofing the house, teaching the kids that they couldn’t leave all their tiny toys laying around.  We bought a bed, a kennel, some toys, food and treats.  We told everyone we saw about our exciting news.  We.  Were. Pumped.

As the X’s on the calendar began to consume the blank spaces, moments of “what are we thinking” began to worm their way into my head, though, I gave them no heed.  I simply chalked it up to the fact that I was just being realistic about what my next long while will be like with training and not romanticizing the experience.

Then FINALLY Monday came.  We all woke up excited and happy.  The plan was to pick the kids up at daycare after work, drive to the SPCA and live happily ever after.

I got a call asking me to come two hours later than I had planned and I found myself oddly relieved.

3:00 came and I piled the kids in the van and off we went.  We spent the whole drive trying to agree on a name, to no avail.  We walked into the building and the kids all started calling him Rusty as I filled out the remaining paperwork and paid the balance.

The drive home was bliss as everything that Rusty did brought sheer joy to my children.

Rusty was just as sweet as we expected him to be.  He didn’t bark unless he needed to go outside.  He already knew to do his business outside!  He was well behaved and loved to cuddle and play.

I felt uncomfortable emotions rising up in me and I quickly stuffed them deep, deep down.

My husband came home from work and commented, “Yep, it smells like dog in here.”  and I was instantly upset with him. How dare he disrespect our new little bundle of joy?!

The evening went on and the emotions kept creeping up my spine.  We played, we trained, we oohed and we ahhed.  Then – my oldest daughter said the one sentence that brought me crashing down.

“So, mom, what do we do if Rusty gets sick?”

It was an innocent and thoughtful question – and it sent my emotions spiralling out of control.

“We take him to the vet.” I answered.

My husband looked at me and recognized the fear in my eyes and my inner struggle to hold myself together.  It’s a look he hadn’t seen since I’d been able to get all the depression and anxiety under control.

The worst part was that neither of us knew why.

The evening went on and the kids went to bed.  Rusty continued to be an ideal little pup.  He slept through the night.  I didn’t.

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What little sleep I had was fitful and troubled.  For some reason I was afraid of this puppy.  But more than that, I was terrified of the fear.

Morning came far too quickly and my husband got up for work.  He took Rusty outside, fed him and bonded.  When he left, Rusty gave the slightest of whimpers.  I got out of bed and spent time playing and cuddling with Rusty.

Okay, he’s still a sweet little thing.  Just focus on the positive.

I was determined to keep my self-talk positive and grounded in reality.  I did okay…for a while.  The children awoke and doted on Rusty.  We played outside, we played inside.  We took him for a walk to the town office to get a dog licence.

Rusty continued to be perfect.  I continued to lose my mind.

I was texting with my mom and sisters, who I’m so grateful for!  I love that in these times I can be honest with them without fear of judgement.

I tried all the grounding exercises.  I tried to enjoy watching my kids love on this little mutt.  The anxiety just kept building.

I called my mom.  I think it was about an hour long conversation.  My mom loves me and advised me to take Rusty back to the SPCA for the sake of my sanity.

I called my little sister who has a dog and could understand my feelings.  My sister loves me (and sometimes she likes me, too) and she advised me to just give it a little longer and maybe Rusty would prove to be a great asset to our family.

I called my big sister who can talk me down from pretty much anything.  She loves me too and advised me to put my emotional well-being ahead of my guilt.

I called a very dear friend who always makes time for me and my family and is like family to us.  This friend loves me and advised me to give it a few more days and do my best to restore my bond with Rusty.

 

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Rusty loving my oldest daughter

I texted my husband to ask how his allergies were.  I’ll admit that I was angry that he wasn’t sick from having a dog in the house.  I wanted him to say that it was unbearable and we had to get rid of Rusty.  That’s an easy and logical decision.

Throughout this day and these phone calls I became more and more of a wreck.  I couldn’t hold in the tears any longer.  I found myself trying to hide from Rusty.  Rusty kept finding me and giving me this look that begged me to love him.

I even called my husband at work and I NEVER call him at work.

I had to be on the phone.  I had to be talking to people because left alone with my thoughts was NOT a good place to be.

On top of all this irrational and so very unexpected anxiety was a load of guilt too heavy to bear.  I went from Best Mom Ever to Worst Mom Ever in less than 24 hours.

I did this.  I said yes to getting a dog. And now I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to say no.  I got my kids’ hopes up and now I was going to dash them against some very jagged rocks.  I was being mean and selfish.

In the fog of guilt, however, was the lighthouse of truth.  My kids would get over it.  Both my husband and I had dogs growing up and both dogs met untimely deaths.  We both coped and moved on.  My kids would too.

By the time my husband had come home from work I had resolved in my heart that Rusty needed a better home than I could give him.  I was perking up.  As an added twist to the saga, my eyes began swelling shut and hurting in a way I had never experienced. Apparently now I’m allergic to dogs too.

This story has a happy ending.  Rusty now goes by a new name and has the perfect home with my daughter’s best friend.  He has some four legged friends there too and my kids get to visit him regularly.  There were tears and questions, but within two days my children had basically forgotten that they even had a pet and I have had no anxiety since the new family told me they were keeping him.

I’ve had many theories as to why I reacted the way I did to Rusty, but the truth is that I just don’t know.  God doesn’t always answer the question, “why”, but that’s okay.  I trust Him anyway.

The Beauty of Belonging

Have you ever been in a room with total strangers and still felt more relaxed and comfortable than with people you know?

It happened to me on Thursday.  I took my son to his therapy session at the center and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot there was just a peace that came over both of us.

As we entered the building I didn’t have to hastily grab his hand so he couldn’t run back out the door.  He talked to and counted the fishies in the tank as I checked in at reception.  The nice lady told us to follow the green feet to our waiting area and my son took her at her word.  His head was down as he bounced from footprint to footprint, almost crashing into people a few times…but here’s where a good morning turned great.

Those people he almost crashed into?  They smiled at him…and me!

They didn’t frown at him with a “careful there, kid” actually aimed at me.  They didn’t cast judgmental glances at either of us.  They didn’t offer me advice on how to discipline my son.  They just smiled and said, “Good morning.”

In the waiting area were two other mothers with their sons.  We exchanged greetings and smiles and turned our attention back to our boys. It seems pretty normal, maybe even a bit rude to not engage in a bit of small talk; but it was wonderfully freeing.

My son loves to bolt away on me and those who know me well know that if we’re out and about I will maintain a conversation with them to the best of my ability, but I will constantly be scanning to make sure he is still nearby and safe.

The situation was the same on Thursday, but I didn’t have to explain myself.  One of the other moms was sticking very close to her boy to make sure he didn’t end up on top of a toy about to jump off.  Mom number 3 was watching her much younger son pull himself up on the furniture and take a few steps.  Her hands were constantly ready to shield his head from bumps with his very frequent falls.

None of us demanded explanations.  None of us shot the glance that told each other to lighten up.  None of us asked, “So what’s wrong with your kid?” (yes, people do that).

As the littlest boy hung on to the big round coffee table for dear life, my boy walked around it tracing the edge with his finger.  As he got close to the little one his mom looked at me before I could even tell my boy to be careful or go the other way and said, “It’s okay, they can just work around each other.”

And they did.

It was that exact moment that my heart soared as I realized that this is our tribe.  These people with similar circumstances asked nothing of us by way of explanation.  We all just got each other.

If you have a child with special needs, you know how beautiful these moments are.  Moments where they can be themselves and not a label or diagnosis.

I had coffee with a friend this morning.  This particular friend has been one of my son’s favourite people since day one and continues to be so.

She is another one who just allows him to be who he is and she embraces his uniqueness without trying to “fix” him.  She also doesn’t let him get away with bad behaviour on her watch because she knows that he knows better (just like every other kid out there who tests boundaries).

These beautiful moments pop up from time to time and I thank God for each and every one of them!

On Valentine’s Day I dropped all 3 kids off at the free babysitting night that a church in town put on as a gift to parents.  When I went to pick up the kids, I had a brief conversation with one of the supervisors who also knows my kids from daycare.  She mentioned that during the movie my son was walking back and forth under the screen but she made sure that none of the other supervisors tried to pull him down as that was just his way.  He wasn’t being loud or disruptive, he was just doing his own thing.

In our church, basically every Sunday, most of the people will keep a subconscious eye out for my son.  They do this because they know that he is a runner and chances are that at any given moment me or my husband will come looking for him.  Without us saying a word, we often get a, “He went that way.”.

These moments make my heart smile.  These moments sustain me through the more difficult moments.  These moments remind me that God is good and that He cares about us and that my son will be okay.

These moments are a gift and I cherish each and every one.

 

Wendy

My Unexpected Journey

It was a typical school assignment for a typical class.  It went something like this:

Dear future me,

Hi, how are you?  I know you’re good because you have it all figured out.  You’ll be 26 years old when you get this.  You’ll be married and have 2 or 3 kids by now.  You’ll be a stay-at-home mom, but have your accounting degree.  Your husband will be awesome.  Probably athletic.

It went on like this for probably a good full page or 2.  I don’t remember exactly because the teacher who vowed to send us our letters in 10 years never did.  My 20th high school reunion is coming up this year…I’m not holding my breath.

This was the life I expected.  The life I planned.  I saw absolutely NO reason this wouldn’t come to pass.

Where did all MY plans get me?  Well, for the record, I aced all of my high school accounting courses!  I enrolled in a local-ish college Business Administration program with a major in Accounting.  After year 1, the major switched to Marketing (I loved and excelled in these classes).  I always was a creative type and although the basic bookkeeping end of accounting was fun, I needed to let my creative juices flow freely.

Fast forward through a few years selling insurance, then being an office manager/bookkeeper (see, I did get to use some of my education) for 4 years.  Still no sporty husband, still no 2 or 3 kids.

The year I was 25, I had it all (less the hubby and kids).  I really did enjoy my job, and I was good at it.  I had a great group of friends, owned my own place (roommate free!) and lived in the same town as all my immediate family.  I was happy.

Then, God starting doing something in me.  It was time to move on.  Now I have never been afraid of change – if anything, I crave it – but why would I want to give up a perfectly comfortable life?

Over the next year, the feeling got stronger and stronger but God just kept telling me, “Not yet”.  Then, in September of 2004, within a 2 week span I had a new job, trained my replacement at the old job, sold my home and secured an apartment in a new town.

Three years went by there.  Career wise, things were good.  Promotions, travel for work, a dear friend nearby.  Still no husband or kids.  The memory of that letter haunted me from time to time.  Most of my friends were married, and had or were having kids.  I had nieces and nephews that I loved dearly but I longed for my own family.

Late 2006 I did that thing I was never going to do; I set up an EHarmony profile.  It took some time, but eventually I connected with this farm boy (who would rather play with a tractor than a hockey stick) from a tiny Prairie town.  We talked, we met, we dated and in 2008 we married.  I was 30 years old by now.  Things were a little behind schedule, but coming along nicely.

Two years later we welcomed our first child.  A sweet baby girl who filled me with so much love at times, and so much frustration at others.  She was borderline colicky and my husband worked at a job that only allowed him to be home on weekends.  At this point I was 1500KM away from my family and didn’t really know anyone well enough to reach out to here.

My Princess grew and learned…and talked and talked and talked.  By 11 months she was saying short sentences and being an all around genius (at least in my eyes).

Sixteen months after becoming a mommy for the first time, we did it again.  A boy this time.  Other than some feeding issues early on, he was one of the most laid back little kids I’d ever seen.  The exception was hunger.  I’m good, I’m good, I’m hungry NOW!!!

My little champ couldn’t really care less about playing peek-a-boo, or reading countless stories like his sister.  Just keep him fed and dry, let him watch the front load washer do a load or two and life was good.  He was a much earlier walker than his sister, but not so much with the talking.

We thought we were done.  We sold most of the baby gear and I tried to convince my heart that I was okay with these two dears.  Hubby got a job with a much, MUCH better schedule, benefits and better pay.  No more being sent out.  No more being the married single mom anymore.

Through the early years, we had our issues.  Big issues.  With God’s help and a handful of close, trusted and Godly friends, we overcame these issues and in January of 2013 decided we wanted just one more baby.  This time it didn’t happen as easily as the first two.  While trying no to worry about not concieving, I was also trying to deny the signs I was seeing in my son.  He was two years old and still not overly concerned with talking or interacting.  He’s just a little behind.  He just has his own interests.  Who cares if all he wants to do is recite the alphabet and line up his toys over and over.

Around the same time that we started seeing a local Speech Pathologist, I found out I was finally pregnant!  The emotions that accompanied me during my pregnancy were heightened as I struggled to come to terms with the fact that it was more than a little delay with my son.  We were referred to a center that deals with special needs children in a nearby city and we have put on many miles going back and forth to appointments.  Each and every one worthwhile.

Our third child, another girl, was born a little before our son turned 3.  The “A” word was getting brought up more and more to me.  I pleaded with God on more than one occasion for that not to be his future.  Please don’t punish our sweet, innocent boy for things that aren’t his fault.

The birth of our daughter was a blessing, but for me brought a level of postpartum depression and anxiety I was not prepared for.  I sought professional counselling, I tried every trick in the book.  I called out to God more times than I could count to take this crippling anxiety from me so that I could be the wife and mother my family needed me to be.  I fought and fought and that winter was the hardest of my life.  My kids were constantly sick.  I could barely function and if one more person offered well-meaning but unsolicited advice I was going to snap.  At 10 months old, my daughter was still being nursed.  Then she got sick…again.  I was done.  I weaned her and went on anti-anxiety meds.  I knew I needed medication but was holding off because I hoped to nurse for a full year.  To be clear, this was what I felt was right for me.  Other moms who wean sooner or use nursing friendly meds – I applaud you for doing what was right for you!

I started to feel human again, but depression and anxiety weren’t supposed to be part of my journey.  I did NOT write those things in The Letter!

Our son was getting older and the “delays” were becoming more and more obvious and six months ago it became official.  He is on the Autism Spectrum.  My boy is Autistic.  My boy is going to have to fight for every little victory in his life.  Things that my girls take for granted, having a conversation, telling me that they don’t feel good, or what they want to play (or don’t want to), these are things my little champ is going to have to work at.  And work hard!  And he does!  He’s still my happy little laid back buddy.  He’s a mama’s boy which is fine because my husband has two daddies girls!

More about the diagnoses process another time.

Along with the diagnoses came another BIG decision.  One that I have wrestled with since my first pregnancy – schooling.  I had felt called to home school for a long time, but it’s intimidating, it’s unpopular in most circles.  It’s time-consuming. It’s the right thing to do for my family.  My boy is smart!  Crazy smart.  Like most autistic kids, my son possesses certain skills way beyond his peer group and our local school, I feel, does not have a program that will benefit him.  I refuse to let my boy fall through cracks!  So right around the time Autism became part of our family identity, so did Home schooling.  Another detail that was not in The Letter!

And did I mention that I also work part-time.  At one point this winter it was four simultaneous part-time jobs.  That also wasn’t in The Letter.  There was nothing in there about being a family on a budget.

So Future Me and Real Me don’t quite have our stories straight.  Remember “You’ll be married and have 2 or 3 kids by now.  You’ll be a stay-at-home mom, but have your accounting degree.  Your husband will be awesome.  Probably athletic.”?  Yeah, real life reads more like:

You have 3 kids, one of them is Autistic and will require a level of parenting you never knew you were capable of.  Your husband is great, but he’s an imperfect creation just like you (gasp!).  Your girls are strong-willed and will challenge you in new ways in everyday.  You will not be one of those moms who has coffee with her friends while the kids are in school because you’ll be in school with them.  You’ll be working too.  Even though good moms don’t do that (I was an idiot back then).

But here’s where God’s plans prove SO much better than mine.  His letter to me would read something like this:

You will learn patience because what you want you’ll have to wait for, with no guarantee that you’ll ever get it.  What you think you want won’t take you where I want you to be.  That husband who isn’t quite who you expected him to be, he’s the best match for you because you two will compliment each other.  That son that some people call “disabled”, I gave him abilities that other people could only dream of.  And he’s going to give you the ability to become the mom that I made you to be.  He’s going to make you patient and compassionate and fierce.  Those girls with the determination and stubbornness, those girls who are just. like. you? Teach them to use their determination well.  Teach them to use those traits for My glory and not for their own devices.  So here’s the part of your Unexpected Journey that I have revealed to you this far.  Just wait to see what’s next!

I’m waiting!

Wendy