I have been thinking lately on the relationships between parents and kids. I somewhat obsessively check in on my own relationship with my kids. I don't want to become distant, or self absorbed, or find myself trying to mold them into my vision of what they would/should/could be.
I am lucky as I learned to let go of the molding thing with Chet. This is a gift from my differently abled child who could not be like neurotypical kids. There was grief for me. A lot of it. Some of my grief was for me the parent. For the things we could not help him to experience. For the opportunities and milestones that he would miss. For the things we could not even do together as a family because it overwhelmed him.
Some of my grief was for him. He was and is aware enough to know what he was missing. He knows he never went to prom. He knows he can not drive a car. He knows that he has been unable to maintain a job. I have learned to point his strengths out to him when he is down on himself. To remind him of his cheerfulness to all, to remind him that his helpful nature is noticed and that he is loved.
And that has taught me to let go of my grief and my expectations and to focus on the positive more. There are many challenging times, don't get me wrong. It is particularly challenging that there is never an issue that is "solved" If it is a non NT behavior response it will return. You can count on it. Parenting Chet is sometimes like that movie Groundhog Day. Lots of do-overs whether you want them or not.
But that has taught me something else. To enjoy other people's kids the same way. I have friends right now who are struggling because they have a set of expectations for one of their children that the child can not achieve. The child's apparent unwillingness is I think not something the child can control. There is a deeper issue there and I see in the child, many aspects of my Chet. But you don't walk up to someone and say "gee I think your kid is on the spectrum." I would have clocked anyone who did that to me!
So I just said how much we enjoy their child's presence in our home (true) and that they are welcome here anytime. The parents said they might take us up on that as there are "more bad days than good lately". My house is different, with a structure born of different cognitive processing being front and center in our lives. If this works for them, and gives a chance to breathe and re-group, I am happy to do that.