Well, I started this post so I might as well finish it even if I don't know what to call it because three is kind of a big deal. Maybe not in the blogosphere world, but, in the world in general, the number three is big. Think about it, there were Three Muskateers, Three Little Pigs and Three Blind Mice. If there had only been two, the pigs may not have ever survived the big bad wolf, the mice may not have outrun the farmer's wife and with one muskateer missing, the other two may have never made it to Paris alive.
Time is divided into three parts, past, present, and future. You get three strikes in baseball before you are out. Even in writing there is something called the "rule of three" or "power of three" which is a writing principle that suggest listing things in threes is better, funnier and more satisfying to the reader, just like I did when listing the Three Muskateers, the Three Little Pigs and Three Blind Mice. Remember when you were living throught your child's terrible twos and couldn't wait for three? Three was like a magical, mystical number you never thought you would see.
Three may be some magical, mystical number in the world of toddlerdom, writing, measuring time and stories (unless of course you were the big, bad wolf and wound up in the third little pig's stew on an empty stomach), but, for me three is a wonderful number that reminds me how much I have learned in three (literal) years.
Three years of AWEnesty has taught me many, many things, but, here are twelve (a multiple of three) that stand out the most:
1. I blocked out a lot of ugly sh**. Writing brings back tons of memories that clearly I tried so hard to repress. Memories that I would have rather left buried in the graveyard of my mind filed under "Ugly Sh** Not To Be Dug Up and Relived Again". However, if I wouldn't have dug up those memories, I would not have had the honor and the privilege of being reminded how far Ryan has come, how far I have come.
2. There are a lot of people who feel as lonely and lost as I did when I first heard The A Word. Those same people say I have helped them feel less alone, but, little do they know, how lonely I was, until they let me in.
3. People want to be reassured that their child will be ok, but, they also want to know that the tough moments, the moments that scare the hell out of them, the moments they aren't proud of, happen to other parents as well. They want to be part of the "Damn We Try Our Best, But, Some Days We Suck" club. There is always an opening and room on the club's roster for more because all club members know that even on the sucky days, the days are still filled with love.
4. "Different, not less" is true. However, wishing from time to time that different was easier for you child and for you, is not something to be ashamed of. You know your child is perfect in your eyes and that you love them just as they are, but, worrying about "different", crying over "different" does not make YOU less.
5. Ryan's voice is louder and more powerful than any words I could ever type, speak or shout which is why if you want to understand what it's like to parent a child with autism, you can ask me, but, if you REALLY want to know what it's like to live with autism, then ask an autistic individual, not a blogger, a mom, a dad or an "expert". We don't know, but, they do.
6. There are many proud autistic people that don't want you to spend all your money racing for a cure for autism or a treatment alternative to change the essence of who they are. They want you to put your money into supporting people with autism, into helping them be successful in a world that is "different" to them. Some autistic individuals who have a voice are trying to be heard, not just for themselves, but, for those who have no voice by educating people that regardless of where someone falls on the autism spectrum, we should all understand that different is not bad, different is not scary, different is not less, different is just different.
7. I use to be terrified of hearing The A Word, it was the only A Word I did NOT want to hear. Today, the only A Word I fear not hearing is Acceptance.
8. When you write a blog, when you share your heart, not everyone will agree with you, support you or understand you. That's ok. The ones who do, are the ones you keep close and the ones who don't, the ones who are filling the comment sections with ignorance, are still talking about autism which is more than they were doing before they started trolling on your page.
9. Using the terms "autistic individual" or "someone living with autism" are not interchangeable, if you are unsure, ask the autistic individual or the person living with autism. It is for them to decide.
10. It really does take a village and I am so proud to be part of this village.
11. Stopping The AWEnesty of Autism would be "ridiculous". I have told Ryan repeatedly, if he ever wants me to stop the blog, it is his choice, his right to say "done". I recently asked him if he still was ok with me sharing stories about him, about our family on AWEnesty and reminded him again that if a time comes that he wants me to stop, I will. "Why would I want you to stop? You keep telling people all the stuff I'm good at and how hard I try when things are hard and that autism isn't something bad! Stopping would be ridiculous!"
12. "Autism isn't something bad."
Thanks to all of you for this AWEsome birthday/anniversary/three years since I posted the first blog, celebration. Ryan and I wouldn't be able to educate folks that "autism isn't something bad" if it weren't for you. If I had cake, I would share it with all of you because you make this journey so much sweeter by being a part of it.