Something Is Bigger Than Me

By Brigitte Shipman | July 9, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Is It A God Thing? Parenting

The day Joseph was born was a major event for both us and our small town. I remember being wheeled into the delivery room and looking up at a crowd of familiar faces which included family, friends, and, of course, the Nayas. The nurse asked me if I knew how many people were there waiting for Joseph to be born. After only 2 hours, he made his appearance. He was the most popular baby born that day in a small-town hospital with more love than most people receive in a lifetime.

I immediately held Joseph in my arms, and he looked right into my eyes. I asked, “Grady, did you see that?” He replied, “Yes I saw that.” It was a magical, meaningful, knowing moment that was bigger than the three of us.

Grady looked at Joseph and me in those first precious moments of parenthood and declared, “You know I read somewhere that children pick their parents. I think he is letting us know that he picked us.” I loved that idea. I do believe that Joseph was letting me know that when our eyes first locked. What we never anticipated was that we were about to have an adventure that most people just hear about. It is possible that Joseph was saying “Hi Mom. We have a lot of work to do here, and it’s all going to be okay.”

Excerpt From My Book: Is It A God Thing?

As I share my story with all of you each week, at times, it feels like it is someone else’s life that I am reading about. The day my son Joseph was born is now more than twenty-nine years ago. As I read the words that I have written, it plays like a movie in my mind. I can clearly see myself as a young mother holding my precious firstborn son. 

To this day I do believe that Joseph picked his father and I to travel on his life journey with him. He has taught me more about myself than I believe I have taught him about himself. My son amazes me. He knows so much about so many different topics. He has taught himself to play more than one instrument very well. He paints, writes, and continues to teach me and others. 

He teaches that there is more to living our lives than reaching goals, entertainment, following a pathway of “certainty.” Are these all important? Yes, but there is a deeper value to each person than following what we all think we should. 

I have learned from my son that although I need to live my life according to society rules such as paying bills and attempting to make a difference in the world, we are all here to serve a purpose. I don’t have it all figured out, but what I do know is that our children who are living on the autistic spectrum are here to teach us that living life with happiness can and does look different for everyone. That is what caused me so much pain at the beginning of my autism journey.

I believed that because Joseph did not operate the same as all his peers that his future was dim at best. I fought with all my might to bring him into my world. Yes, there is great value in bringing him into my world to survive a world that literally feels foreign to my son. What I now see more than ever is that he will survive and he will also get to where he is going. He will get there in a completely different way from the way I would travel.

The way my son travels may take longer, but he does get there. It took him five years to pass his beginner's swimming class, but he did it. It took him twenty-nine years to move out to live on his own, but he got there. 

My hunch is that he will find his own way as he continues to learn how to navigate his life in a foreign land. I do still have some fear that comes up when he hits a bump in the road, but now I take a breath and let him drive and go the direction that he feels is best. 

This is not easy for me to do since I have been his pilot, then co-pilot, and now a passenger unless he invites me to co-pilot his life decisions. If you are at the beginning of your autism journey take a breath and know that you will be amazed at who your child becomes. You will also be amazed at who you become. 

As Joseph’s eyes locked into mine the day he was born, he let me know we were going on an adventure and everything was going to be okay, and it is. 

Autism Guide Brigitte Shipman Coach

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