Today, my son taught me an important lesson on value and how we place it.
My son is a really special little guy. He has Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified on the Autism Spectrum. So, a lot of little things that would be be considered typical in other children are really significant for him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a parent tell their four year old to shut up because the chatter became overbearingly annoying. I always feel that twinge of sadness, fearing that my son may never speak enough for me to become aggravated at all. Those moments are significant for me, too.
But, then there are those moments that are significant in an enlightening way.
I was sitting at the dining room table this morning with my wallet and what we call “The petty cash box”. I was mindlessly dumping change into it when my son approached me. When he speaks, I listen with all of my might to make out what he is saying. It might be the only thing I ever put my full attention into. He said, “Mommy, money!” I was thrilled that he took an interest in what I was doing, and I allowed him to put the money in the box while supervised.
He happily put the money in, and presented me with a quarter saying, “Mommy, want quarter?” I was delighted that he could identify it. Suddenly, he grabbed the box and started to walk away. I was about to chase him down just when he put it on the end table. He turned to me excitedly and shouted, “Look, Mommy! Treasure!”
He started to prattle on about being a pirate when my heart just melted. It was a brilliant observation. The little box kind of resembled a treasure chest, brimming with different colored coins. And that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t just about the likeness. It was about the whole interaction. And the whole thing had taken on an entirely different value.
I started to think about the things that I value. What do I cherish?
The realization hit me. Lately, I’ve been dwelling on the things that I want, but don’t have. My focus had been shifted onto the seemingly hopeless pursuit of these things. And I realized that those things are intangible idealizations that may never even have the possibility of becoming a reality. Those things had gained all of the value over the things I truly cherished and clouded my mind.
What do I value then?
Little, daily victories for my son. A few engaged words here and snippets of hopeful conversation there. His new discoveries and interests. And each beautiful little smile and giggle. All of those shining moments that give me hope for his development through Autism Spectrum Disorder.
But even more for him, I value him. Him, as he is. My 4 foot tall, 55lb, brown haired, green eyed little Beast.
I value my husband’s caresses. This morning, he unexpectedly turned over and actually spooned me. It was more than welcome. It was soothing, comforting, and all spontaneous. It was one of those rare, intuitive moments he had. I cherish those.
But, I value even more than those fleeting moments. It is bigger than that. I see what I have missed all along. Every action is an intuitive, invested action. Whether I know it or not, he’s taking care of my needs that I don’t even think about anymore. I was overlooking what was right there in front of me because I was too involved with what I considered to be neglected needs.
Finally, my eyes started to open up.
When I really thought about it, I found value in myself today. I have been so fixated on what I am not, and the things I thought I had lost, I lost sight of who I am and all of the things I have gained. I am a mother. I am a wife. I have been those things for longer than I have been anything else. I am those things above all else. And I don’t know how I came to value anything else.
I lack certain qualities, but that does not make me devoid of myself. There is plenty of me. I am not stable, but I am spirited. I am not entirely well right now, but I cannot expect to be well all of the time. I have Bipolar Disorder. I am not Bipolar. I am more than my illness and more than my symptoms.
Today, I connected with my husband without trying or wanting. I connected with a son I thought I was losing to Autism Spectrum Disorder. But more so, he connected with me. He reached out and connected me with the world again. And that was what made all of the difference.