“…There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again…”
Every mom hears of how their child’s youth will slip through their fingers in no time. They are often told of how they are to cherish every moment with their babes because those days will soon be but a memory. A wrinkle in time.
A Different Child
Because I am a mother to a child with special needs, many blanket cliches about mothering often miss the mark of understanding; not all children want to be held or can be held.
My son has autism.
When he was little, there were days that went by when I had zero cuddle time with my baby. There were times when my mothering heart ached for just a touch. All I wanted was to hold my baby. But, my baby didn’t want to be held.
It was in these times that I was severely reminded through echoed parenting remarks, that this time was fleeting. I needed to soak in every second of my child. I needed to cling to the memories of those times when all I would do was sit and rock my bundle of joy.
It just wasn’t possible and I had to accept that. My little guy has now grown into an oversized toddler of four years. He is so big! Even when he was still manageable on my child-bearing hips, he never seemed to take to the idea of mom toting him around. He wanted down and he wanted to run. He was an independent little guy. It broke my heart to admit such a fact to the mamas whose children were standing there with outstretched arms; begging for someone to hold them.
I had to look away. I even pretended that I didn’t notice. But I did.
I grew impatient from the longing for that type of reception from my own child.
Mothers of very special children learn to accept a lot of nevers.
I had to look away. I even pretended that I didn’t notice. But I did. All I wanted was to hold my baby. But, my baby didn’t want to be held.
My faith was being tested and oftentimes my flesh overcame. Autism pulled the rug out from under my mothering as hard as I tried to overcome on my own. I lost sight of the glory of God in all things. I wasn’t myself, but I knew I was being transformed into the mother that my son needed. A once timid and reserved mama emerged, courageous and bold. I grieved my old self and wondered how others would perceive this new special needs mama. Then, I realized I didn’t care. I had to do and be and go for my son. God had brought me to a place where I could finally stand firm and look up and confidently pray from my new position.
As I prayed, God opened my eyes and my heart to the many blessings that autism has given to us. God started using my son to mold and shape my fragile heart. My son, Miles, has taught me more about unconditional love in four short years than most people gather in a lifetime. He has broken barriers that I never imagined possible and has inspired my own type of bravery. Through my son, God has poured out His grace. Autism is a gift I never knew I needed, but was so lovingly and mercifully given.
Eventually, I was able to look past my hurt and praise Him for what He has given to so many other moms—not what it appeared He had taken away from me. My once broken heart was healed by tears of joy once I realized the magnitude of God’s sovereignty. Not many mothers can claim that they truly care for the least of these. They are given precious souls for which to attend and therein lies the wonder; the love of my heavenly Father.
The Last Time
I decided that even though my son may not always willingly let me hold him, I can still rejoice in his progression from afar.
The more time that passed, the better in tune I became with him. I was able to quickly sense a “good day” and that’s when I would hug him and kiss him as much as he would allow. These small acts of love became my worship. With every caress of his head, I would praise God in my heart.
I decided that a cliche of normal child rearing would not get the best of me. Even though my son was way too heavy to be lugging around anywhere, one day, for fun, I picked him up.
I held him and he laughed. I kissed his head and smelled his hair.
Then, he wanted down to run.
I sat him down for the last time.
He was gone but my heart was full.
God opened my eyes and my heart to the many blessings that autism has given to us. God started using my son to mold and shape my fragile heart. Autism is a gift I never knew I needed, but was so lovingly and mercifully given.
You’ll also like What My Beautiful, Imperfect Baby Boy Taught Me About Perfection, 15 Ways to Care for Yourself When You Have a Child with Special Needs, Applying Grace and Understanding in the World of Autism, 10 Ways to Advocate for Your Special Needs Child, Kids With Anxiety—They Need You on Their Team and One Mother’s Story of Down Syndrome and Joy.