Autism has now become a household name, that wasn’t the case not too long ago. It seems we all have someone near and dear to us with an affected child. I have both a sister-in-law and close friend who have boys with severe Autism. At the ages of 9 and 13, they are both non-verbal and still in diapers. Their homes are like Fort Knox because they are always in lockdown mode due to the fact that they attempt to “escape,” sometimes out the front door and even worse, out second story windows. I admire the dedication and devotion these mothers possess in not only protecting their boys but more importantly, loving them. This is where “Becoming Friends with Poop” comes in. Both boys have become quite artistic in their ability to finger paint the walls, carpets and furniture in their homes with the remains of their soiled diapers. Children with Autism generally don’t like wearing anything itchy or confining and diapers definitely fall into that category. We have spent many Sunday dinners or days at the pool with my nephew running around stark naked. The looks of disdain from strangers are rampant and often the stress level can be very high. Not the ideal, right? Both of these moms would tell you a resounding no…life with an Autistic child is physically and emotionally exhausting. Reasoning with them is almost impossible but loving them is not! I have marveled at how these women have taken on this difficult challenge with optimism and courage, especially when involving poop!
These moms should be a wonderful example to all of us on how we should deal with the “poop” in our own lives. Let’s face it, we are all faced with our own unique set of challenges and trials…. the question is how do we deal with it? In the case of parents who have children with special needs, it may involve literal poop. The more daunting challenge often is the mental and physical drain it can put on the entire family. Day-to-day tasks are always more challenging when you’re dealing with an 80-pound child like my nephew that barely communicates but definitely has a mind of his own. Going to the grocery store, attending social events and even just being at home is taxing. I love a good nap but that rarely is an option for these moms. Being off guard for even a brief moment can have grave consequences. Their challenges definitely cause me to stop and reflect when I’m having one of my own bad mom days.
So how do we become friends with the “poop” in our lives? Gratitude is the first and most important step. I’m not suggesting these moms should be grateful as they’re cleaning up poop out of the nooks and crannies of their homes but if they can find joy amidst these difficult challenges, why can’t we? We all have “poop” in our lives but if we focus on the 20% that we don’t have instead of the 80% that we are blessed with, then the “poop” is all we’ll see. Let these amazing and noble mothers be an example to all of us, loving our children more and finding joy in the journey.