A parent’s love is a special love. It is not about approval or accomplishment. It is about unconditional support and concern. It’s a love born in joy, nurtured during adversity and reconfirmed on a daily and hourly basis.
It’s a love bound up in anxiety and expectation. Often worry and concern can creep in as an adjunct to this deepest of emotions.
I get to observe these phenomenal emotional moments play out in a very special way. I have a grandson who has autism. He is not defined by this, but it is part of the emotional and functional process that goes on in our daily life. I get to see the successes and the failures, the triumphs and the challenges.
Importantly I get to observe special people dealing with special circumstances. I get to see commitment and creativity at every turn. I see teachers and therapists whose special skills come not from books or manuals, but from hearts and minds. These are not people doing a job. These are people answering a calling.
The most amazing things I get to observe are the things I see in parents. The effort and commitment of his parents and their love is the love that matters the most. But I must confess that one parent means the most and makes the most difference for my grandson. Every day from morning until night, from wake up to bedtime, they must give of themselves.
While I appreciate the efforts of my son in law, I have to admit that it’s my own daughter that I hear from and see the most. I am very unashamedly biased in this regard. I see her go through the routines of preparing meals, getting kids ready for school, doing laundry, and running errands. Her energy and drive are driven by love.
It can be a superhuman effort sometimes. I know she is tired. I know she is stressed. I know that decisions and analysis are more of a challenge than what I faced as a parent. Don’t get me wrong; she and her brother were a handful.
Thankfully they had a Mom who was a much more skilled parent that I could ever be. But the essential element that she can offer in a way no one else can is…Love. And that’s Love with a capital “L.” That’s what fuels the care and concern. That is what makes the potential outcome for a child on the autism spectrum a good deal better. I can tell my grandson loves his Mom and I sure can tell that she loves him.
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The unexpected realization is how much my love and respect for her is magnified in the concentrated prismatic light of autism. This narrow beam of neurological intrigue makes everything brighter and more sparking. I can see her love and understand better that it lights a hopeful path. I can sense it. My grandson can sense it. If autism is a sensory challenge, it can be met most significantly by abundant love and care. Observing the loving relationship in this special circumstance is much more illuminating than in so many other routine places and situations.
Oftentimes we speak of “the power of love.” We see it as an answer to many things. When dealing with autism is it can make a real difference. It can soften the hard edges; it can help answer the unanswered questions; it can comfort and calm.
Well, you might have figured out by now that what I’m really caught up in here is my love for my daughter. It is the love that has been deepened and enriched as I’ve aged, observed and matured. As she has grown up, I’ve grown up as well. I’ve gotten all the answers to all the questions I ever had about what kind of person and parent she would be.
I loved her from the moment she was born. I loved her as a toddler and yes…even as a teenager. But, I have never understood the real depth of that love until we started to understand that our grandson had some special needs. It seems like his sensory issues have helped me to understand and see so much more.
He has opened up a rich treasure of the love that a maturing generation can have for the next generation. He has moved me to a place of better understanding. He has added many layers of love and affection between my daughter and me and between all of us as a family.
I value the love that my grandson receives from his parents. I understand its significance for him. Who would have thought that through some understanding of this that I would end up learning the deeper meaning for me of a parent’s love.
When next I see my grandson, I must remember to thank him for helping me truly appreciate that a parent never stops loving. I must tell him that he has made our entire family closer and more loving. But what is of equal or greater importance is that I must tell my daughter that I love her and that I hope she understands the importance of that to me…and maybe to her.
This article was featured in Issue 89 – Solutions for Today and Tomorrow with ASD