Sometimes Giancarlo reaches for my hand and intertwines his fingers around mine, like a boyfriend would do, and I think to myself, “will he ever hold another person’s hand this way in the future? will he ever date?” but then I bring myself back to the present moment and try to be grateful for his affectionate gesture, and I am. I am grateful for all the little things.
Every time I refuse one of his demands, and instead of going apeshit, he reformulates it into a more complete and polite request, I am reminded of a time when we wondered if his severe speech delay would ever improve enough to make him understood by anyone other than me, and I am grateful.
Every time he dips his finger into a new food and licks it, regardless of the reaction that follows, I am reminded of how, for the past 9 years, his diet has been so rigidly restrictive, and I am grateful.
Every time he leans in and kisses his sister’s forehead or takes her hand and places around his round belly, I am reminded of all the other children I know on the spectrum who refuse to be touched – whose parents ache for hugs and kisses, and I am grateful.
Every time he drops something by accident, and I notice him pick it up without being prompted, as he mutters “aw sheet” under his breath, I realize how aware he has become of his surroundings and I am so, so grateful.
I am grateful for these little things, because a few years ago, when he was diagnosed, I literally never allowed myself to imagine him doing those things because I was too afraid of the very real possibility that it would never be. My husband was the optimistic one, but although I never gave up on my son, I was hanging on too thin of a thread to be able to handle the crashing down of false hopes. So instead I have focused on pushing him just outside his comfort level, without an end goal in mind. My only objective has been constant progress – and boy, has there been!
So, if I complain about how hard some days are, or when my depression clouds my perception, it is not for a lack of gratitude. I am grateful every day for every little thing, and I always, always will be.