You work extremely hard every day, no matter the cost. There is no break, no rest period, no pause moments. You see, having a child with autism is a constant adventure, one that you cannot plan or envision. Would we change it, not for anything. Carter is unique, ingenious, gentle hearted, and has more spirit than most Marines I know. Carter had not one, not two, but three different brain surgeries at the age of two, and diagnosed with autism at five.
I have been told that I have a rough and harsh exterior. I have been shot twice, been through war five different times, and been through more explosions than I can remember. All of that, and Carter still has me beat. This kid amazes me daily, and he has come from so much. You see, my challenges have healed, and can be stored away until the appropriate time. Carter wears his scars in the open, loud and proud with no concern of what others see.
Unfortunately, we as parents are harder on ourselves than we let on. Carter does fine, I think I have already proven he is a pretty tough kid. We just continue to push as much as possible to give him every chance he deserves. That, however, comes with a price. Over 22 hours a week, Carter has therapies. ABA, OT, PT, ST, and also was having social group until they closed down. Someone has to ensure he gets to all of this, and that happens to be his mother. Not to mention we also have Kinley, who does school, dance, and play dates. Oh yea, Carter is also homeschooled.
Being a military spouse is already hard, especially married to an infantry Marine who deploys and trains constantly. Add the needs of your children on top, it can be overwhelming. The answer though, is not to take away from your kids. So, we made the choice for me to retire, and head home close to family and friends.
There is no reason one should not take care of themselves, as you need to be self centered and ready for action. Feeling guilty for wanting to get closer to family and getting just a little bit of help is taking a step closure to maturity, and advancing care. Imagine how much better life can be for everyone if there is more people to assist in the overall care and responsibilities. A date night would be tremendous. We live over 500 miles away from family, and have had maybe 5 dates nights in 12 years of marriage. Now I am getting excited!
Some things to be excited about, how about taking a walk. Watch a sunset in the Smokey Mountains, or take a nap. Drink wine with no fear of maybe rushing to the hospital. Or just spend time loving each other, and remember why there is a “together” and not an “apart”.
Do not feel guilty for wanting to take care of yourself just a little bit. you give your kids everything, but there can be nothing to give if there is nothing left. The judgmental people out there will call us bad parents. Haters are always going to hate, and until they stand in your exact shoes for just a moment, they will never understand. Every family is different, and each have their own challenges. My challenge for YOU;
Cut Yourself Some Slack, It’s Good For Everyone
Now take some time, great your spouses hand, and go take a long walk.