It's a known fact that most parents love to brag about their kids and since the inception of social media, that task has proved easier to do and reaches a far wider audience than a text or heaven forbid, a face to face conversation.
It's a natural human response to be able to tell someone else what great achievement your child has accomplished from an early age we take great pride in the most simplest of milestones.
I recall the weekly weigh-in after Joseph was born, proudly telling family how many kilograms he now weighed. Only nobody I knew (including myself) worked on metric and we had to convert to pounds and ounces before announcing the magic number. Whether it's weight, first solid food or first shit on the toilet we can't help ourselves. When childless it seems ridiculous, but once you have your own bundle of spewing and shitting mess you can't help but jump on the bandwagon.
Once Joseph was diagnosed with autism, I couldn't bring myself to publicly tell the world he had autism let alone contemplate sharing anything positive about his life. I thought I would never be able to share any accomplishments again, as I didn't believe there would be any.
But slowly, my mindset changed and I realised Joseph would have successes. Some would be what other parents would take for granted but for us so huge, I needed to be able to shout about it. And in other respects, it's almost like self-counselling. To be able to share the good news helps me come to terms with Joseph's autism and although it's not done for praise, it certainly helps when you get the encouragement you need, that you are doing a good job.
Parenting a child with autism is often said to be incredibly rewarding and I don't disagree with that but we don't always share those very low times. As someone who now writes about our experiences, I try to touch on those times but I don't think even I have got close to giving a true account of those times when I feel I cannot carry on.
Social media is so very powerful and everyone loves a hard luck story but one with a happy ending. Most people don't share the shit times as they feel people won't want to read it; I'm certain that there are many that don't. And whilst washing your dirty linen in public is seen as a no-no, life is a mixture of ups and downs and it's only right to share the lows too.
And because life with autism can bring so many downs, you'll find me being the one celebrating the small wins. That may be a certificate from school, trying a new food or even just a shit-free day because you can guarantee the next day may not just be as positive and you're back to sticking one🖕🏻(or two) fingers up at life.
We still have expectations for Joseph and we still have belief. I haven't given up on Joseph, far from it. I still have belief every single day that he will regularly sleep beyond 5 or 6am!
Forrest Gump once said "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." There are days when I have too many Turkish Delights for my liking but when I get the strawberry one, I spread the love.
Tina & Joseph, seeing the world from a different angle and celebrating the small wins since 2011.