- To accept the unimaginable
- To love without condition
- To believe that it's okay to be different
- To be flexible when he can't
- To say "yes, you can" when he says "no, I can't"
- To believe he will achieve more than they said he would, because he always does
- To say to the experts, "You don't know it all."
- To be amazed at empathy in other children
- To educate the uneducated
- To never believe that autism is defined as "less than"
- To comfort my son when he is hurt or confused
- To cheer his successes and encourage him to work through his weaknesses
- To take a break sometimes and try again tomorrow
- To let go when it's time to let go
- To allow fear and pride to co-exist
- To laugh when life is silly
- To cry when life is hard
- To rejoice in every step forward and goal achieved
I have learned more about what it means to be a mother since having Joey than I learned with my older two children combined. There is more instructing, more involvement, more mothering, more everything. And I really like that. Having Joey gave me one more chance to do this mothering thing right. And, as a bonus, his older brothers have more empathy for people others see as different (in a bad way) than children who were not raised with an autistic sibling. My older sons are also Joey's protectors and that makes me think I have done something right.
But, mostly what Joey has taught me more than anything is that Joey is just Joey. And "just Joey" is absolutely perfect.