Sunday, August 22, 2010

Returning to Routines

In June, I decided that one of my summer projects would be to start writing about Alex and some of the ways that autism has impacted our lives. While I had thought about doing this for a while, I never made the time to dedicate myself to this task. Creating a blog, I thought, would discipline me to write on a regular basis and would afford me the opportunity to gain feedback from others about what I had written. Initially, I had intended for this to be a way for Alex to remember his childhood, perhaps as atonement for abandoning writing in his baby book once I suspected he had autism, as I explained in the blog entry “Milestones.” Then, I realized the writing has helped me come to terms with various events in Alex’s life. Some of the bittersweet memories are no longer bitter since we’ve learned to find the humor in situations that didn’t seem funny at the time. In addition, we’ve been able to share some of our lives with family and friends who knew parts of the story but not all of the details. In telling our experiences, I also hoped that other parents of children with autism might find our stories helpful, especially since we have weathered storms and are now enjoying sunshine most of the time.

When I first started writing the blog entries, I thought that only my parents and Ed would faithfully read them. My mom has always been my biggest fan and my favorite brainstorming partner, and she has fulfilled both roles regarding this blog. Providing encouragement, constructive criticism, and ideas for writing, she, as always, has been loving and supportive as my mother and Alex’s grandmother. Ed, who has written a very successful blog of his own, “One Poet’s Notes,” for several years, has not only given me frequent reassurance that I can do this, but he has also patiently taught me how to attach photos and links, given me advice about layout and writing, and promoted my blog by mentioning it in his own. Moreover, he’s a terrific father to Alex; I couldn’t have raised this child successfully without his unselfish love for both Alex and me. Of course, Alex, the inspiration for these writings, continues to bless us with his unique outlook on life, his humor, and the joy he finds in unexpected places. Writing the blog has opened up a new line of conversation between the two of us as he reminds me of the details I’ve forgotten. To watch his reactions—often his shudders of delight—as he reads what I’ve written about him is more reward than I could ever ask for. The unexpected blessing in writing this blog has been the outpouring of encouragement from Ed’s family and my friends. In my entry “Support,” I wrote about how fortunate I have been to have very caring friends, and I have been reminded this summer that God has surrounded us with such loving and compassionate people. After a little over two months and thirty blog entries, my writing has been read nearly two thousand times, which boggles my mind. Although I don’t know who has read my entries, other than those who have told me or written to me, my site meter shows that my blog has been read on five continents and in twenty-five countries around the world, which I never would have expected. However, more than ever, I am motivated to tell Alex’s story and share a hopeful message that life with autism does get better over time.

This week, Ed will resume teaching his three college English courses in the afternoons and evenings, Alex will start his senior year of home school lessons (mornings with Ed, afternoons with me), and I will begin my school year of teaching three seventh grade English classes in the mornings. While I am sad to see the summer end, especially since the three of us have thoroughly enjoyed our time together, we anticipate a good year as we return to routines. Ed and I are fortunate to have jobs that we enjoy and that allow us to be with Alex more than most jobs do. Alex, who likes routines, eagerly looks forward to a new school year because he has never lost his curiosity about the world and his love of learning. As much as I have liked structuring the blog in threes with three entries per week of three paragraphs each (perhaps representing the three of us), I know that the responsibilities of teaching Alex and my seventh grade students will limit my time to reflect and write. Consequently, I will combine my Tuesday and Thursday blog entries into one on Wednesday, but will continue the Sunday entries as we return to our school schedules. While I’m pleased that I’ve been able to accomplish what I set out to do in June, I have a notebook filled with jottings I want to develop into entries that I hope people will want to read. The encouragement I’ve received from family, friends, and followers, along with God’s faithful support, has made me believe that writing should now be part of my routine, and I hope that those who read it will be as blessed as I have been by their kindness.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13


Fred Haeberle said...

Hi Pam,

I just wanted to respond with some "feedback." I look forward to each new entry as they are interesting, educational, and easy to read. I like the addition of the graphic at the top of the entry. Keep up this great blog at what ever frequency you can handle, family comes first.


Pam Byrne said...

Hi Fred,
Thanks so much for faithfully reading my blog and for all the encouragement you have given me. I'm still a novice at the graphics, but it's fun looking for images that fit with the text. As I tell my students, writing gets easier with practice, so I think I can balance the twice weekly entries with my teaching. I'm just pleased that you and others enjoy reading my blog; that motivates me to keep at it! :)
Take care,