Most, if not all of you reading this, will know that my baby boy, Max, has autism. Well, I say baby... he's three years, seven months, and two days old now, so not really much of a baby - more like an insanely cute toddler! Technically he's a preschooler, but he's still, in essence, at the toddler stage.
You know, the age where he's soaking up almost everything he sees? Where he still doesn't understand why he shouldn't do something, but will (most of the time) listen to me if I tell him to wait/stop/come give mummy cuddles.
The thing is, before I became aware of Max's autism, I didn't know a damn thing about it.
I knew that it was to do with behavioural issues, and that was about it.
In only a year I've learned more than I possibly could have, had I not had Max here to show me the way.
I was your typical parent who would avert my eyes to a child having a major meltdown in the supermarket.
It didn't concern me, I was blissfully ignorant to what was really going on there, and in so many other situations that I just put down to bad parenting.
I was judgemental, impatient, and took everything Zack did for granted.
Just like those who don't have a child with delays, or special needs, I had no need to really *see* what was going on.
Now though. NOW I see the whole world differently.
I see a 13 month old starting to shape her words, and am delighted and so heart-warmed to see how wonderfully she's doing. Her mum looks at me slightly bemused as I comment on what a wonderful speaker she's turning into!
I see a 4 year old who'll go on the Big Swings and do it "BY MYSELF MUMMY", and am just filled with happiness to see the independence of another little soul growing up in our world.
I see the Primary 7's at lunch time, all chatting and being sarcastic to each other, and using their language more eloquently than I'm sure I did when I was that age!
And I just revel in the sparkly awesomeness of it all!
EVERY tiny little thing our children accomplish is amazing!
Your child has finally mastered the potty at nearly four... "that's so late" you say, "but he got it eventually". WELL DONE! He's on his way to independence! You're doing a GREAT job!!
That 5 year old who's struggling with their reading? It will come! Look at her! She's so sure of herself, of her own decisions, and how they may affect others. Look at the compassion she has for others if they get upset! She is beautiful! The reading will come as she realises more about the world, it will open up for her!
The wee lad who's splashing in puddles as his mum drags him away, telling him off... do you know, Max has only just dared go near a puddle a couple of months ago? So yes, his wee feet might get a bit wet, but he's ENJOYING it! It makes him giggle! This is a HUGE step! Like... I can't even put into words how *HUGE* this is, considering he wouldn't even leave the house without screaming in terror the whole time if it was raining!
I guess the thing is, I've learned to be the person I am, the person I've always wanted to be, by being a mum.
Not *just* a mum though.
A mum to a scarily intelligent nearly-6-year-old and an adorably beautiful 3.5 year old who has autism.
Having a child with special needs has totally changed my outlook on the world, on everyone around me.
I'm no longer that prejudiced person who secretly looks down her nose at those who "can't control their children".
I see, I mean I really SEE the worried looks on my fellow mamabears, when their little one doesn't seem to pay attention to anything around them.
I feel the sadness of the little ones who's parents just tell them to be quiet and are talked over all the time.
I SEE how amazing every single child, every single person in this world, really is.
You are ALL amazing!
You are ALL different!
You are all completely and utterly uniquely YOU!
Celebrate the flaws and the imperfections that make you, YOU!
Never look down on anyone.
You have no right to do that.
We are ALL part of this beautiful place we call Earth, and we're all connected by being human. By our compassion, and our empathy towards others, by our struggles and our triumphs.
So open up your eyes!
Don't use the blinkers that are so much easier have on than off.
Let yourself SEE and FEEL all the magic around you!
I can guarantee, you will be filled with awe!