I Learn How to Love and Forgive from My Son

*All the names and characters in this story are fictive. This story is written to increase awareness about Autism and to encourage people to be mindful when they meet someone who has Autism.*

I remembered how happy I was when I learned that I was pregnant. I was married at 35 years old, and my in-laws were worried that I would have difficulty to conceive a child. My marriage itself is kind of outside the norm in our Asian culture, mainly because I am married to a guy who is four years younger than I am. My husband is a loving guy who treats me equally. He allows me to work and do things that I like to do. In short, our marriage is a happy marriage.

I gave birth to a cute baby boy at 36 years old. We named him Jeremiah, and we celebrated his presence by throwing a fantastic party. Jeremiah grew healthy, and his milestone was on track. At 2 years old, I noticed something odd with Jeremiah. His speech skills seemed to regress. He used to wave and call me “Mama,” but his words were disappeared. We took him to a child psychologist and were advised to take ADOS test. The psychologist suspected that Jeremiah might have Autism. I cried when she said that, but I braved myself to take the test. Four weeks later, it was confirmed that Jeremiah had mild Autism. I cried every night for about a week. I tried to tell myself the result was wrong, but I also recognized that he lost his speech and he became avoidance. Our daily schedules were changed ever since we found out that Jeremiah had Autism. Therapists were coming in to our house and we also transported Jeremiah to see another therapist outside home. I signed up for ABA courses. I even attempted to put Jeremiah on a strict diet. However, my husband was against this idea. He said we better kept him in behavioral therapies instead of strict diet.

Jeremiah started to talk a bit at four years old. We were able to put him in a regular school, though it was a hard work. My husband used everything he could do to keep Jeremiah in school. We demanded his school to give Jeremiah extra lessons to catch up missing work. It was an exhausting process, but we would not give up for Jeremiah.

Bad words about me started to show up, as soon as people learned about Jeremiah’s Autism. They blamed me for bringing bad genes. I wanted to smack them, but I knew it wasn’t appropriate. Jeremiah knew when I was sad. He would come and hugged me tightly. He said “It’s ok, Mommy.” When the school called me to inform that Jeremiah had a hard time in the classroom, he would look at me with teary eyes and said “Sorry, Mommy.” Parents who did not know about Jeremiah’s diagnosis often blamed me for not teaching rules to him. However, parents whose children also have special needs, though it is not Autism, understood my situation. We made a group chat via WhatsApp, and we shared tips. This group chat has supported me to survive and raise Jeremiah. I deeply thank my husband who against all odds and difficulties, he is always on my side.

Jeremiah is 17 years old now. He will graduate from high school next June. We are not sending him to a college. Instead, we bring a teacher in to teach him baking and cooking. Jeremiah loves baking cookies. Ever since he was young, he enjoyed watching Food Network and asked me to buy ingredients so that he could bake and cook. We plan to sharpen his skills and hope that he could earn money through baking and cooking. Through Jeremiah, I learn how to love unconditionally. He is teaching me to forgive those who talk bad about us. Jeremiah is a loving child. His Autism does not stop him from being a lovable person and most importantly do not block him from pursuing his passion.

Precious Life

Love the life you currently live.

Love the work you do.

Love the people with whom you work with.

Love the people who have been with you through up and down.

Love the God who creates you.

Love the talent that God has been given you with.

Love your body, mind, and health.

Live, love, laugh and give thanks.

Look Forward

I look forward for the days when daily life is running smoothly and no worries.

I look forward for the freedom of doing things I want to do without bothering what people said to me.

I look forward for the time when I could feel peace and joy all around my body.

I look forward for a moment when harsh words are not ringing on my ears.

Look forward and keep believing.

Sip It Like You Drink Your Coffee

Our lifestyles resemble coffee brands.

Our life issues remind us of the sizes of coffee cup that we choose when we drink coffee.

The way we handle the issues is similar to how we drink our coffee. Some like to sip it while it is still hot, fresh brewed. Some like to wait for a few minutes. Others like to drink it cold.

Eventually, each of us will sip and finish drinking our coffee. Life issues may not all gone completely, but it will slowly dissipate just like when we drink our coffee. It takes time.

A Must-Have Attitude to Survive in The Dynamic Society

I believe in the idea that hard work and persistency are followed by desired outcome. However, I admit that the waiting time from the moment we start the work until we actually see the desired result is varied. It depends on the type of the work that we do. For example, it took a while for Steve Job to invent, design, and finally launch iPhone successfully and reap its rewards. On another note, the medical research to find cures for medical illness such as HIV is still ongoing, but many patients have received preventive care and treatments to lessen the pain.

Why being persistent and hard working are crucial traits in a job? Because it tells others and ourselves that we love our work. It also reflects on the product that we create or service that we deliver. Picture a smart doctor but this doctor is rude. Will you come back to see this doctor again? Probably no. You probably choose another doctor who is not as famous as that doctor, but this doctor listens to you, provides assistance that you need the most, and treats you as an equal person.

Now, at some point in our lives, we come across people who expect immediate results without examining the core area and (perhaps) fail to look back on how far the project/goal has been accomplished. This case usually happens to people whose loved ones are sick and/or suffering from mental health disorders. It could also happened to any companies that expect quick return of investment, as soon as the production is started. If any of you happen to experience this situation, I strongly advice you to think positive and look on the brighter side. You could weep for 5 minutes, and that’s it, no more weeping. Get up and go back to work. I personally think it’s a human nature to be slightly impatient and perhaps greedy, looking for more and better. Thus, any unpleasant comments or words coming out from clients should not make your heart small. Instead, use those words to motivate you to perform better. We should not worry about “what if so and so….” ,as long as we have been doing our work correctly and on the top of that, we show genuine effort to deliver the best performance to our customers.

I understand putting all of this into practice is not easy. It comes with practice and experience. It also comes with understanding that no one is perfect, but willingness to learn and move forward is a must-have attitude that we should have whether we are students, professionals, or simply an adult.

When I am Old and Gray

When I’m old and gray,

… I will celebrate my journey of life.

… I will cherish my moment here and now.

… I will reminisce all of the hard work that I’ve done.

… I will share my life lessons to younger generation.

When I’m old and gray,

… I will enjoy the slow pace of my life.

… I will do one thing at a time.

… I will thank people who have been supported me all years long.

… I will give thanks to God who gives me strength and wisdom.

Small Things Matter

There are times I feel tired and want to quit, but those tiny eyes that looked at me in awe, said something else. From the way they look at me, they want to say that I should not quit. Words may not come out from them, but eyes could talk.

I always believe that it is God’s grace that has made me doing things I have been doing all these years. I know it must be Him that brings me to this point. It is through the work that I do, that I learn to slow my pace and read the silent cue.

Thus, the moment I feel weak and tired, He constantly reminds me to keep moving forward. He does this through the children with whom I work. Small things matter. We celebrate small progress, because we hope to see more progress coming out from these children.

Be thankful for what you already have. Celebrate life because we do not know what is going to happen in the future. Appreciate those who have been with you through good and bad times. Pray hard whether you are happy or sad. Pray more when life storm hits you from all directions. Love your children regardless of their conditions. They know how you feel. They could feel whether you genuinely love them or not. Believe that nurture wins nature. If you have both, it’s good, but if nature isn’t that good, nurture them so that they could be useful when they are older.