I write this with all you mothers who have children with special challenges in mind. As a mother of two boys on the autism spectrum, I find the holidays are a time of rejoicing and many challenges: routines change with many new faces, places, and unfamiliar circumstances. All of these circumstances can easily set my boys off. Sometimes when I see my boys struggling, I wish that the “normal” rules of parenthood applied to me, too, and that my boys would not always struggle in the midst of what could be considered a normal situation.
When I watch my boys, I wonder: Lord why me? Surely there is a more patient, knowledgeable woman out there who could be a better mother to them. I like things to be predictable. I have many days when my fuse is short, and I actually knew nothing about autism spectrum disorder before my oldest son turned three. In the midst of my anxiety, frustration, and questioning, I return to the words of Our Lord:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Mt 11: 28-30).
It is easy to feel burdened—to feel weak. I see my two-year-old having a panic attack, and there is nothing I can do to make him feel better. I feel helpless when my five-year-old is throwing an irrational temper tantrum and I cannot do or say anything to make it stop. These are the moments when Christ is drawing me closer to him. He is using those moments of sadness and frustration to reach out his hand and to let me know that he is right there with me and my sons. No work or effort required on my part—just reach out and take his hand. If I did not have these challenging moments in my life, then what reason would there be for me to accept his help? I believe that our crosses are tailor-made for each of us. Again and again, I have to go to my knees and accept that this is the cross my family must bear, but especially my sons and myself. My prayer is that I can see this cross as an opportunity for Jesus to pick me up, encourage me, and guide me into becoming the best mother I can be.