Can I just start by saying, I love motherhood? I mean, it’s hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s had some huge rewards that money could never buy. I love all four of my kids equally, and each of them have qualities different from each other that I love, too. It’s such a weird thing to explain, really but if you’re a Mom to multiple children, I know you understand. Today, I want to spotlight just one of my boys—and share the news we’ve been given, and the new road we’re taking as a family that has lots of changes, potentially even my time as a writer.
A few weeks ago, our four-year-old son, Jase was “officially” diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, confirming our speculations. We had believed he could be for about a year. He has been evaluated umpteen times, and we’ve seen several specialists.
It’s always just kind of been a puzzle for us, because there are a few characteristics of Jase that raise big autism flags, while other things make us believe it’s just his personality. As a mother, you really hope to walk into that doctor’s office and explain your concerns, while the doctor just responds, “I don’t think that’s it…” Then, you sigh of relief and move forward.
This time, though, that is not what happened. I showed the Doctor how Jase flaps his arms in excitement, and that often his eyes will uncontrollably skim the room. Or, how Jase prefers to play alone, rather than with others. With all his evaluation results, I showed him how Jase is developmentally delayed in every area on a scale at four years old, and that he is still not fully potty trained.
He watched Jase play for a moment, and almost instantly, he said “He’s definitely on the Spectrum.” My heart sank, and I was crying on the inside. I was really disappointed. Not with Jase, because Jase is the same little boy I’ve always known, but I was hoping the doctor would ease my concerns…not confirm them. Why? I know, that seems unreasonable, but I have spent weeks fighting this, as if I can prove him wrong or we can overcome it especially after negative reactions from our family when we shared the news.
I finally reached that harsh reality that that’s not how ASD works. This could be forever, but it could not. This could be a disability, or it could show exceptional abilities. Being what they call “On the Spectrum” is a huge gray area of maybes and maybe-nots. We simply don’t know. The doctor tried to re-assure me that with this diagnosis that we have a massive support system for his special needs but it still didn’t make me feel any better.
Forcing myself to think positive, there is an upside; one beautiful reality is that my Jase is exactly who God created him to be and that is not just “good enough,” but it’s more… it is full of purpose. Another beauty is that for reasons I do not know, God felt like I should be his Mama. I always consider Jase my surprise, because learning of my pregnancy just 10 weeks after I had given birth to my 2nd son, we were in shock to find out we would be bringing another child into the world.
When I think about it, I feel like God decided Jase was someone I needed in my life, at that very moment regardless of anything else; even my thoughts on the matter. (because let’s be honest. If I’d given thought to having 2 kids in a year, I never would have done it.)
Amid my little tantrum, I heard a voice say, “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.” It made me think of the Apostle Paul asking God to take away his flaws. He called it his “thorn in the flesh,” and though we don’t know exactly what that was, each time he begged, God said, “My grace is all you need, my power works best in weakness.”
It did not matter to God that Paul had his thorn. God was after Paul’s heart, and what a beautiful soul we get to read about today because Paul finally stopped asking to be healed, accepted who God created him to be, and potentially changed the world. Have you ever maybe wondered why, of all the things God wanted in Scripture of Paul’s life, that Paul’s thorn in the flesh made the top of the list? Perhaps it’s because God did not want Paul to hide that side of him.
In fact, if you look at Paul’s story as a whole, the thorn was never an issue anyway.
Interesting. Could it be that I’ve been stressing about this, and God’s saying, “It’s not an issue, anyway.”
As a mom, I find myself questioning if I’ve failed my child. Could I have caused this? Should I have done anything differently? And I just feel this peace over me, assuring me that this diagnosis does not define Jase or our family. It’s just confirming what we already knew – That Jase is special. Jase is extraordinary. Jase is an awesome kid, and we’re incredibly blessed. Jase is beautiful and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
As a mother, I know there are many moms that share my concerns, and I’m committed to becoming a beacon to other Moms raising kids with exceptional abilities. Our stories are far from over. I’m starting to feel really led to write more of our story and our progress as we take on some new obstacles. Though it has felt like a wrench being thrown into any plans we had, it is the next step into the journey we were created for.
Press on, Mamas.