Take it In

Kids are running from ride to ride with sticky fingers anxiously handing the Gillian's  employee their tickets as they jump into seats with sun kissed cheeks and bright smiles. I sit watching, taking it all in, breathing in the joy they feel as their sun screened bodies glisten in the sun. I listen to the laughter, the horns sounding, the bells ringing and try to take it all in.

I am taking it all in for you moms. I see you, tired, lugging bags, counting your change and dolling out tickets to open hands. I see you trying to smile as you add up the cost in your head looking for the nearest ATM. I hear you saying "just one more ride" as your little one prances about begging for more rides on the Frogs or perhaps another spin on the Carousel. You say "yes". I hear an emphatic "yay"  little hands clasped with excitement against your sweet little ones chest.

While I take it all in, I think back to what I didn't notice with my own kids. I realize I didn't relish in the joy of the first summer rides at an amusement park. I remember counting tickets and thinking about the expense. I remember how I saw the beach as a burden as I chased sandy toes around hoping we could soon go home, for a nap and relaxation.

What I would do for those to be my worries again. The worries of parenting before. Before the diagnosis that dictates what we can and can't do with our busy family of seven. I still have those worries but I also worry that I will never hear those elated shouts, those voracious giggles and the simple conversation begging yet again for just one more ride.

How I could kick myself for not being grateful for the simple moments that were so special.  Only now do I understand how much those simple moments mean. There is so much to my child's autism diagnosis. There are gifts too, and perhaps the ability to relish in the small moments and realize what truly matters is just one.

Here I sit, where it all began, where my child rode obsessively on the fire engine melting as the ride stopped to allow new passengers on. I think back to the day it began. The day I truly knew. The day I diagnosed my daughter's diagnosis. Its bittersweet. Without that ride, who knows how long it would have taken for me to really understand that, yes, she does have autism. Its also incredibly sad because her little body craves movement and spinning to be comfortable in her own skin. I look on two years later as I watch children delight. I wish my own child could delight just the same way they do. Instead she's asleep in her stroller, not because she doesn't want to ring the bell and bounce up and down in circles but because it's too much and she copes by sleeping. I smile and nod as you tell me how sweet it is, her asleep in the chaos. I want to believe it is too but then I remember why she is sleeping and wish I could have the experiences you are having right now.


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