Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Ultimate Sacrifice...Raising Autistic Children

Self-sacrifice: sacrifice of oneself or one's interest for others or for a cause or ideal.

I want to talk about this word: sacrifice…especially in light of John Edwards’ infidelity and indiscretions. What was he thinking? Well actually what do a lot of men (and some women too—I’m not being sexist) think when they hear the word sacrifice? Or do they?

I know for fact that most women do and have to ... sacrifice. Look at the latest study of which sex ends up happier: it’s the men.

Let me tell you a little secret: I know this one man who cheats on his wife. No, I’m not gossiping, it’s just a fact and a point that I’m trying to make and understand. He told me that the reason why he cheats was: he felt like he just didn’t have enough!

I know for fact that this man has a wife who also works—part time, and has a nanny helper. His wife also does all the cooking, cleaning, and is the primary caregiver of their two children. He works his one job and is grateful and happy with his life, his job and his two healthy children, but, still, he cheats, because—he needs more!

When I was pregnant—and I can safely speak for all women here— we sacrifice quite a lot to bring a healthy child into the world: We watch our diet, we exercise properly, we visit the doctor often and we pray we’re doing all the right things … hey, our other half can’t do it, so we have to make the sacrifice, and gladly do.

Then we women work full time or part time, we arrange child care, we are most often the one to bring our kids to the pediatrician, to stay home when they’re sick, to wake up in the middle of the night to feed and comfort them …. We sacrifice.

Now just add in the 1 in150 chance that your child will have autism, and a whole new sacrifice is welcomed into your life and it becomes—a whole new world. And we no longer make the usual sacrifices to welcome a child into our world; instead, we are forced into their world, and changing everything that we are and already know. It’s the path less traveled and a hell of a lot bumpier. Without a question, it’s the ultimate sacrifice:

The education, the doctors, the therapies, the financial drain, the emotional impact, the higher failure rate of our marriages (75% rate), the sometimes wishing our life was over…because, it kind of is. But we do it and sacrifice our own happiness for our children’s happiness and their well-being. Again, it’s a total sacrifice.

So when this man admitted to me that he has it ALL but needed more…. Well I’m still chewing on that one!!

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