Why I Wave Goodbye to My Daughters With Autism Each Time They Leave for School
As I walked out the door of my triplets’ bedroom, my daughter, who I call “Sunshine,” did her typical end-of-the-day statements.
Sunshine: “Goodnight, Mommy”
Sunshine: “Happy Dream”
Me: “Happy Dream”
Sunshine repeats these closing statements again and again as you walk out the door. We think it’s partially because she has to have the last word in everything. It’s a ritual she began a few months ago. And, every night I still hold my breath, waiting and hoping.
You see, once, out of the blue, as I was saying good night and only expecting a response back from Sunshine, I heard a second “Happy Dream” from my other daughter, who I call “Princess.” My mostly nonverbal child was wishing me a happy night just like her sister. Of course, I rushed back into the room, kissed Princess all over again and insisted she too have a happy dream of her own.
Every school day I stand by the bus as Princess and my third, “Angel,” get buckled into their seats. I wait and I wave. When Grandma is there she watches me and says something like, “Do they see you?” or “I don’t think they care about waving today” and I never answer those statements. I wave goodbye every day until the bus turns left, and they can’t see me waving.
Today’s post is my gift to all mothers of children with milestone delays or delayed development. We strive every day to teach our children, to presume competence, to hold our expectations high enough, to embrace our child’s differences and yet carefully recognize the fact that it could take up to 2,000 repetitions for our child with special needs to learn something that a typical child will likely learn in 200 repetitions. We balance expectations every day — not too low, not too high and realize that in addition to being Mom, we get to play therapist to our special children. Sometimes there are those days when we’d give almost anything to just be a parent, a simple, run-of-the-mill parent with “typical” expectations. Then without warning, we get a moment. A “Happy Dream” moment, a “wave bye-bye” moment, and all of a sudden nothing else matters but that moment. That moment when you absolutely, positively know how lucky you are to have this special child who shows you what life and love and joy really are.
This post originally appeared on The Tripped Up Life.