Sometimes your autistic child amazes you, surpassing your expectations. Sometimes he (or she) makes you weep (in a good way). And sometimes, just like any other child, they make you do both.
A few days ago I was home alone in the evening with Max (age 8 and autistic) and Sam (age 6 and neurotypical). My husband Joel was out for a well-deserved swim, as it was my night to put the boys to bed. As I herded them up the stairs, I suddenly felt lightheaded and realized I was going to faint. Not an "Oh, dear, I feel dizzy and should sit", kind of feeling, but a complete fall into black. And so I did, thankfully only landing on the stairs, versus tumbling to the wooden floor below.
Both boys became instantly alarmed, and when I groaned that I felt sick, my youngest raced to get a bowl. I crawled up the rest of the stairs and made it to the washroom, only to faint again. At this point the boys began to get scared. I crawled back to the hallway, where I proceeded to become extremely ill. At that point, I began to cry, feeling like I might pass out again and that I had no other adult to watch my two vulnerable little ones.
Between my tears, I kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry", over and over again. I don't recall how many times I said this, but Sam has confirmed that it was "a lot".
In that moment I thought something terrible was going to happen, as I was suddenly so ill. I couldn't think rationally about what to do and was too weak to move an inch. It was at that moment, while Sam began singing a lullaby to his sobbing Mommy, that Maxwell took charge.
"Sam," he said, "We have to do something. We have to get Daddy!"
And with that, he raced downstairs and grabbed a phone. When it became clear that I couldn't remember my husband's number (too out of it at this point), he ran back downstairs, found the number on the wall, then used the phone the way I had once taught him, when practicing 911.
When his father answered, Max said authoritatively, "Daddy. Mommy is sick. You must come home at once!"
While we were waiting for my husband, Max ran back downstairs and made me a card, while Sam kept singing.
That night, I was too ill to read what the card said, but in the morning, still weak, I did.
"Dear Mom you are the best mom a kid could have. NO MORE SORRYS PLEASE. We love you so much for being our mom."
No more sorrys. As a person who says "sorry" like a nervous tic, I think that Max's words may be the wisest ones anyone has ever said to me. No more sorrys please. We love you so much.
Yes, my brave, so wise little boy. Yes.