Monday, 14 February 2011
I equate talking about autism to talking about Navy life a lot. You hear the same responses in both situations. When I reveal to someone that my daughter has autism, I often hear "Oh, I'm so sorry." Sorry? Sorry for what? That she's a bit different? I didn't just tell you that she has cancer. Would you say "Oh, I'm so sorry" if someone told you that their child has ADHD? I would imagine no. This also is coming from someone who has a child who is on the moderate to low end of the spectrum, whose child still at nearly age 5, has limited vocabulary (no more than 20 words).
Likewise, talking about the military lifestyle in which I live with those who know nothing about it is very interesting. "Oh, my husband is deployed for a short while" is usually met with sympathetic looks and "I'm so sorry, that must be terrible." Well, no, it's not. I realize that it's much different for me who has a husband who is on a submarine and so far has been gone at most 5 months at a time. I realize that it would be different if my husband was in the infantry and gone for 15 months at a time. I realize there are differences between the branches, and I generally try to give the public a break. I miss my husband, yes, but I am an adult who is capable of handling her household with or without her husband. No one has to hold my hand, really.
I know that both aspects of our lives have challenges. My daughter will likely be in some sort of therapy for a very long time, possibly the rest of her life. She may not speak any more than she does already, and if she does, it will probably be a little more awkward than her "typical" peers. Despite all this, however, I realize that she is incredibly smart. She has known for about a month how to spell her own name. She's FOUR. She recognizes words both by letters and pictures. She has excellent eye contact and many traits of autistic kids just don't exist in her. She likes to spin and tear paper when she feels overwhelmed and frustrated. She still wears a pull-up to bed at age 4, because she hasn't figured out how to "hold it" overnight yet. Then again, there are some "neurotypical" kids who don't overnight potty train 100% until 5 or 6 or sometimes even older, so this isn't something I'm overly worried about.
The military life on the other hand is challenging, but not terrible either. Yes, there are long separations, but they are bearable. I read about some wives worrying when they don't hear from their husband every day or every week. When my husband was deployed last winter, I heard from him about 4 times via phone total, and intermittently via email (when the boat got close enough to the surface to be able to send/receive emails). I don't feel like I'm extra special or better because I can handle that, but it is what it is. What sense is there in worrying when you can't control a situation? You just deal. People often say things like "I don't know how you do it". Well, that's our life. We just DO. It's one foot in front of the other. We don't change our regular routine (with the exception of more trips out of the house, because otherwise we'd all go stir-crazy) - we're just short a person.
In short, I love my life and as much as I miss my extended family, I wouldn't change my life for anything.