No Expectations Allows Me To Be A Better Parent

And here I sit again, in my car, crying.

This seems to be the place I cry the most.

After IEP meetings.

After doctor’s appointments.

After birthday parties.

I usually know when I’m going to end up crying.

You see, I’m always prepared.

I don’t usually have a choice in that matter.

I call it prepared grief. I can see it coming weeks in advance.

We have done enough IEP meetings, doctor’s evaluations, and birthday parties that just don’t go the way we planned.

This still doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when his teacher tells you he isn’t progressing as well in school as you thought.

Or after a doctor’s evaluation, when you don’t realize how far behind your son with autism is compared to typical peers.

Or when this is the millionth birthday party we have attended as a family one or all of us have to leave, because our son has become sensory overloaded.

Today, I wasn’t prepared to cry. I didn’t see this event being something that would effect me.

I didn’t know grief would suddenly creep into my soul and rob me of this day.

You see, today is Landon’s end of the year preschool show.

Landon is my youngest child, three and a half years old, and what society calls neurotypical.

I had never been to a preschool show, or Pre-K graduation for my children.

This is just as big of a milestone for Landon, as it is for me as a parent.

We are all excited!

Even his five year old brother, Zachary, who has non-verbal autism, is ready to get in the car and go.

We are at a high school auditorium, and there are so many kids.

Kids that are the same ages as my two boys.

And very verbal kids.

Then it strikes me…

Right in the heart…

Grief.

As I watched Landon on stage with his peers I couldn’t help but think about Zachary.

Zachary would be in the Pre-K class in the same school with Landon.

He would be graduating today.

We never had a preschool graduation for him.

And he won’t be going into a typical kindergarten class either this year.

This overwhelming sadness came over me in such a different way than any other time.

Birthday’s that don’t go the way I envisioned…

Okay, maybe next time will be different.

Zachary doesn’t understand Halloween…

Okay, maybe next year will be different.

He doesn’t care about Santa…

Okay, maybe next year will be different.

No preschool graduation…

There is no next year.

Starting Kindergarten…

There is no next year.

I have finally missed pivotal milestones in my son’s life that we will never get back.

He will never be four years old again, walking on stage with his peers, and singing songs for all the parents to hear.

I know it sounds trivial, but these are the moments as parents that we have thought about, dreamt about, and expect.

I sat in the audience beaming with pride for my one son, Landon, and my heart literally breaking into pieces knowing I will never have this moment with Zachary.

I truly felt robbed.

This grief was different, but similar to when we got our son’s diagnosis.

All of my expectations of life with a child had changed from the moment I left that doctor’s office with the diagnosis of autism for my son.

My expectations had changed again after leaving a preschool graduation.

Now, I have learned no expectations allows me to be a better parent.

I’m extremely privileged to be watching both my sons grow into whatever makes them happy in life.

If hoarding and stimming on books makes Zachary happy, I’m here to support it.

If my other son Landon, wants to change majors five different times in college, I’m here to support it.

Their happiness and my happiness are separate and different. As they should be.

Looking back at that moment, I wish I experienced all the happiness within our family that day.

I should have been really proud of both my children.

Zachary was able to attend a preschool graduation with his family.

He sat in the audience the whole time.

He was quiet and attentive.

There were no meltdowns, sensory overload, and our family was together the whole time.

These made up expectations in what I perceived would make my family happy, and comparing us to other families was the thief of our joy.

Not a preschool graduation.

Written by, Melissa Owsiany 

I’m a nurse, wife and mom to two wonderful boys Zachary, who has autism, and Landon.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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