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After our first child was diagnosed with autism, a friend shared this phrase I have leaned on countless times since: Things don’t get easier, they just change. I didn’t know how I felt about it at first. I couldn’t imagine things not getting easier. It had to get easier. How could we continue with so little sleep, so many meltdowns, and so little preparedness for how to approach it all? I spent months imagining things getting easier and researched as much as I could to find a way to make things easier for our son. The research equipped me with more information and knowledge, but it did not give me a magic solution. There isn’t a magic solution. I know that now. There is a freedom in accepting that things aren’t going to get easier.
When you finally accept that things aren’t going to get easier, you release yourself from a futile search for a solution. After all, our kids aren’t broken. They simply need extra help in certain areas. Finding our tribe was a deeply valuable part of our journey. As they walk beside us, teach us, and advocate for our children, they provide us with support that we cannot imagine living without.
Things don’t get easier, but they do change. I have changed. I learned to go to bed earlier to sneak in more sleep. I learned that our children display problematic behavior when they consume food dyes. I learned that taking a deep breath and approaching a situation in a calm manner makes a world of difference in the outcome. I learned that our family’s slower pace of life may be different, but different is okay. I learned that packing certain items in my bag will help my children through various sensory experiences they may have while in the community. My expectations of life as a parent are radically different than they were six years ago.
Accepting that things don’t get easier also means accepting our family members’ individuality. Changing expectations, accepting reality and embracing each day (or holding on tightly to get through the toughest ones!), allows us freedom to be more present for ourselves and our families. It is a process, for sure, but one that is worth the effort it takes to achieve.