Before autism, because there is a before and there is an after. Even though I suspected Noah fell on the spectrum before his first birthday, it was different then, perhaps even easier.
Before autism I was the most excited person for every family/ friend event there was. I have a big, close family and I was the one who couldn't wait to spend the holidays & summer picnics with all my cousins, aunts & uncles. But that was before. Because before I could have a conversation with someone and not constantly have Noah be upset by the diverted attention or the fact that he doesn't want to be where we are, wherever it is.
Before I didn't randomly start crying in restaurants when out to lunch with my mom, because she catches you off guard by telling you how sorry she is how hard this is for you, and she wishes she could take it away.
Before I didn't know that I would walk amongst eggshells in my home. I didn't even know that was a possibility. And that sometimes I would run from room to room, duck, or hide from my kid, because the second he sees me—there is a problem, and I need to fix it. Even though all he could be doing is watching a show or fidgeting with a toy.
I didn't know that almost every time I spoke it would upset my son. And that's not an understatement. This is still the most stressful thing in my life, and I don't even know if I can put into words how hard it is. Me talking to Adam, his therapist, teacher, my mom, anyone really, and Noah instantly starts crying, which can turn into a full blown meltdown. That's hard. So now, I don't talk as much. Before, I never stopped talking.
But after autism, everything changed... and I had become a better person. Truly. No matter how unbelievably hard this all is, I am forever changed. I have learned what the purest form of love is. And that it doesn't need words to be felt.
After I found a passion in writing and sharing our story to educate & help others understand my amazing kid. I learned what it meant to fight for something greater in this world, and to try to make a difference in that.
After I believed in hope, and that miracles are possible. And your happiness is not about what you were given or not given in life, it's about what you make of it.
After I learned what empathy is, true empathy. Before I was an entitled, selfish person, who didn't understand what 'hard' was.
Raising Noah has been my biggest challenge, but it has also has been my greatest reward. It has humbled me like no other, and I take absolutely nothing for granted, no matter how small. I know how sacred a hug, a glance or even a smile is in our world. I also know living in this paradox of missing who I was, and being so proud of the person I've become. And you can be both, really. I've learned that's what this motherhood is all about.