We're coming up on the two year anniversary of my son's autism diagnosis.
Not that I'm keeping track or anything.
December 22nd is our diagnosis day for my son Howie. And even though I can't remember if I showered or brushed my teeth today, I do remember the two hour appointment when our whole world changed.
Not for the better, not for worse. Just...changed.
I've been thinking about it a lot lately - it's hard not to - but mostly after a friend sent out a signal for help. She was having concerns about her child. Already a special needs mom, she was worried. Not just about her child. She was doubting her abilities as a parent to do this all again.
"You're more cut out than anyone. You know this road. When Lewis got his diagnosis, I thought it was the end of me as a parent. I thought there was no way I could parent two kids (Howie and Lewis) with special needs, and add in Gerry's "stuff" and I wanted to walk away and leave them with better parents. But I am the better parent because of them. Every day they show me amazing things and teach me things about myself that I would have never known. I reach the end of my rope almost daily with this crew. But every day that rope gets longer and I can handle more. You can do this. You will get help and answers and support and you can do this."
I wrote the words I wished someone had said to me two years ago after Howie's diagnosis. Words that were said to me in August after Lewis' diagnosis. Words that I will remember in January after my oldest has his developmental evaluation.
If we can be honest, there isn't a day that goes by that I question my abilities as a parent. I yell more than I want to, lose my cool more than I want to, and worry more than I ever thought I could.
As our two year diagnosis day closes in, I have to remember that I am stronger than I ever thought I would be. I have a voice that I never knew existed. I have learned to pick my battles and fight like hell to help my kids in any and every way.
But I have also learned to open myself up to help and support from the incredible people on this journey with me. And they remind me daily to let it out, let it go, and "let it be".
December 22nd, 2011 will come and go. As will December 22nd, 2012 and 2013 and 2014...
For my son, it's just another day in his life.
For me, I will take a deep breath and face that day, reminding myself that "You Can Do This".
"I know my heart will never be the same
But I'm telling myself I'll be okay
Even on my weakest days
I get a little bit stronger" - A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans
Alysia Butler is a stay-at-home mom to three boys. Her two youngest both have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. When she isn't trying to remember if she showered or brushed her teeth, she's writing about the boys at Try Defying Gravity, and tweeting about important stuff at @trydefyinggrav.