Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father and Son

An old Jewish proverb states, “God couldn’t be everywhere, so He created mothers.” As an addendum to that saying, I would add that because mothers can’t be everywhere, God created fathers. Like all other moms, and especially those who have children with special needs, my role involves juggling various responsibilities to make sure Alex gets what he needs. However, without Ed’s support, encouragement, and steady presence, I would never be able to manage all those tasks required of me. Just this past week in a variety of situations, I was reminded how well we complement each other as parents, both working toward helping make Alex’s life the best it can be.

On Monday, we took Alex to his psychiatric nurse practitioner for his regular six-month appointment to monitor his health and progress. When we go for medical appointments, my primary responsibility is to act as Alex’s health care advocate, speaking the medical lingo with the professionals, and Ed’s primary role is to keep Alex calm and entertained as we wait. As Ed chatted with Alex about the Beatles, I rattled off the prescription medications he is taking, the dosages, and the times of day he takes them. When we met with his nurse practitioner, I gave a brief summary of his progress and behavior as well as answered her questions. While I try to be objective, Ed takes the opportunity to highlight Alex’s accomplishments, making no secret how proud he is of his son. Of course, both of us were pleased that not only were Alex’s blood tests and vitals excellent, but also that he handled himself well, answering her questions pleasantly and politely.

On Wednesday, I went out to dinner with some friends for a Girls’ Night Out, leaving Alex and Ed to enjoy one of their “Boys’ Suppers.” This means that Ed cooks seafood, which they both love and I despise, and they look forward to these opportunities to eat their favorite food together. When I came home, I found Alex in his favorite spot, stretched out on the loveseat with his long legs hanging over the end, and Ed stretched out on the couch, both of them contentedly watching baseball on television. Knowing that Ed takes good care of Alex and that Alex enjoys time alone with his dad allows me to enjoy some time with my friends and gives me a break from the autism mom routine.

This week, I wondered aloud how much Alex’s therapies were benefitting him, not being critical of his terrific therapists, but just questioning how much of his progress simply comes with time and maturation. Ed immediately listed all the positive aspects of Alex’s therapy, reminding me how valuable those sessions are to Alex. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of our marriage and partnership as parents is that when one of us is flagging in energy and enthusiasm, the other points out all the good to lift the spirits and encourage moving forward toward our goal of making Alex better.

Yesterday, we took Alex for a Saturday Social monthly event at an agency that provides services for adults with disabilities. A couple of months ago, we had taken him for the first time to this program; that time the activity was crafts, which are not among Alex’s favorite things to do. However, he apparently had a good time because he pestered me to call them to find out what the activity was for this month. When he found out the planned activity was Bingo, he was delighted because the combination of letters and numbers in the game are right up his alley. Since Alex did so well the last time we took him, I had told Ed that he didn’t have to go and that I could take him myself. Nonetheless, Ed decided to go along with us, even though he was the only male there other than Alex. Even though I know he hates situations where he has to make small talk, he pleasantly chatted with people and cheered on Alex, who won four prizes. Besides being there for Alex, I know he was there to support me, to make me feel more comfortable in a relatively new situation.

As we celebrate Father’s Day today, I am thankful that God blessed my son with such a loving and caring father. Even though life with autism has meant that our life is much different than those families who have typical children, Ed makes the best of our situation, focusing on Alex’s strengths and not his weaknesses. In times of crisis, he provided the strength I needed to get through the situation, and in the day-to-day routine, he offers his opinions but trusts my judgment. While Alex can’t fully express his feelings, I know that he adores his father and thinks he’s the smartest and funniest guy he knows, and he knows Ed feels the same way about him. Through all the obstacles, their love has grown stronger, and I am so proud of both of them for the men they have become. Happy Father’s Day!

“For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12


Marjorie said...

Happy Father's Day to Ed, and warm thoughts for you!

Bright Side of Life said...

What a lovely post. Happy Father's Day to Ed.

Babs said...

Alex is so fortunate to have such a wonderful, loving, caring Dad and Mom! Enjoy your Father's Day.

Pam Byrne said...

Thanks, Marjorie, Bright Side, and Babs, for your sweet notes--I really appreciate your kindness. As always, it's great to hear from you all. :)