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When I Noticed My Wife Crying Behind Her Sunglasses

We were at the beach last week. My wife and I were standing ankle deep in the water watching our son, Eric, having a ball swimming and jumping over the waves. A group of three other kids ran up and started playing, splashing and chasing each other in the water. Eric gave them a passing glance and went about his business.

I saw it happen, as I’ve seen it happen countless times in the past. My wife has gotten skilled at crying behind her sunglasses so others can’t obviously see her pain. But I saw it. I have learned that there are times when there is nothing I can say or do. I just have to let the moment happen and dissipate naturally. That’s what I did. It took a few minutes. Then the moment lifted, and we went back to our quiet family swim in the ocean.

I think these moments are easier for me than for her because I am not a social butterfly. She is. Her greatest pleasures in life have come from gatherings with friends and social experiences with family. My greatest pleasures have come from quiet solitude and peaceful reflection by myself or with my wife. She sees my son’s lack of interest in his peers as him missing out on pleasure. I understand how she can see it that way. But I see it as simply taking my own introversion a step further. I want her to know that while he obviously needs to learn social skills and to be nudged out of his comfort zone into interacting with his peers, he is not necessarily deprived of pleasure from his lack of interest in these relationships.

I often joke that I could do a 10-year prison sentence with ease. I would be just fine stranded on a desert island for a while. For me, social interactions are work. It’s different for her. Her love for her son is one of God’s wonders. I want her to understand that he will be OK. I want her to trust that smile on his face when he is doing his own thing and not to feel sorry for him because he isn’t interested in chasing and throwing sand at his cousins. I want her to understand that, in so many ways, he is me… and look at the happiness I have found… with her.

The author hugging his wife after participating in a race

This post originally appeared on Bacon & Juice Boxes: Our Life With Autism.