I’m sitting on a plane heading to Indianapolis for a family graduation and my boys are sound asleep. Could it be because we woke up at 530am, or possibly because I slipped a little dose of melatonin in their juice…can’t be sure (tongue and cheek moment), but I am calm for the first time since I woke up this morning.
Traveling with children, in general, is pretty overwhelming, but when you have a precocious toddler and one with autism the stress levels increase dramatically.
I was always so worried to fly with Nico. Wasn’t sure how he’d do in unfamiliar environments, or if they would allow all of his juice through security. Since he only drinks one kind of juice, I have to pack it and pray that TSA wont give me a hard time. I did learn today that because it’s technically for medical reasons, it can be scanned and passed through. That has lessened my anxiety tremendously.
But, as I sit here drinking my mimosa (thank you, SW Drink Coupons) with my husband in the adjacent aisle sipping on a Jack and Coke…no judgments…it’s been a morning…I couldn’t help but tear up when the song, “Landslide” began to play on my Apple Music playlist.
This song has become so symbolic for me over these last few years raising Nico. He has grown and progressed in so many ways that I feel my whole perspective on his autism journey has changed. I used to live in absolute gripping fear that my son would never speak, never assimilate into a mainstream school…never live a life without struggle and meltdowns. But, as I think back to the morning and how he handled every bit of our travel experience at the airport—-waiting in a TSA line for 40 minutes, sitting at the gate for 25 minutes, and being surrounded by a million strangers and unfamiliar sounds—-I am in a state of total awe and amazement.
Nico managed every bit of our hectic morning like a champ. Never once did he melt down, whine, cry, get anxious, or become difficult. He managed everything as if he had no sensory or social or auditory struggles. I was more stressed out over his 3.5 year old brother who is definitely testing every strand of my patience with his tantrums and refusals to listen. Please let this just be a toddler phase!
So as I listened to The Chicks’ rendition of “Landslide” (which I absolutely love and not just because I am a Texan now), I had such peace in my heart. I actually envisioned dancing to this song with Nico at his wedding. Just the thought of it, and seeing the words written out, floods me with the most overwhelming feelings of hope and pride and excitement.
To look at him right now, sleeping ever so soundly, I feel such pride. I am so beyond proud of him for all he has triumphed through. The way he was helping me calm his brother down during our taxi to the runway by placing his hands ever so gently on his back and patting him like I do with both of them when they start to get worked up. I just feel this almost euphoric state of happiness.
Nico has always been my number one priority; I feel like my life has been built around him. I didn’t know who I was other than a mom of a child with autism once we received his diagnosis. So afraid to change course or let my guard down.
But, I feel like for the first time in 8.5 years I can loosen my grip on this idea that I am just an autism mom, protecting and advocating for my son because he is in need of daily support. I can now shift my attention to building a life for Nico that includes new milestones independent of my hovering support. The thought of Nico meeting someone special who will accept him for who he is and love him for who he is just tickles me pink.
I actually feel like I am in a landslide right now at this moment, sliding down from this intense state of being where all I did was worry, stress, and pray endlessly for my son to have a healthy, happy, inclusive childhood.
Nico is thriving and growing in ways I only ever imagined. With the immense support of his incredible school, Nico is making amazing strides.
And, although I do have anxiety about his middle and high school years, I feel like I am so much more mentally and emotionally prepared. I am looking forward to the prospect of new friendships and teacher bonds as Nico traverses into secondary grades.
So as I play “Landslide” on repeat for the remainder of the trip, and quietly wipe away my tears, I am giddy at the thought that this song will be played as my son and I dance together on his wedding day.
And as he gets older, I will share this song with him, and it’s significance, so he knows how music impacts his mother just as much as it impacts him. And so that he knows this WILL be the song we dance too. Hah!
I know autism has many negative connotations attached to it, and I am not saying raising a child with autism is an easy feat, but it is NOT nearly as permanent and “terminal” as I was lead to believe.
Take it day by day, celebrate the milestones no matter how small, work through the difficult times, cry when you need to, keep an optimistic mindset as much as possible, and find others who are willing to join the journey with you in raising your special needs children to be happy, healthy and self-reliant.
The future is bright for our kiddos!
2 thoughts on “Landslide”
Sent from my iPad
You are the best mom, I just love how you can put your feelings on paper and make it sound amazing, Justin has triplets and both the boys have autism, it’s a roller coaster of emotions, love you ,