Monday, January 27, 2014

Loving unconditionally despite everything

In early December, I made a video about my son and his iPad. I wanted to convey my many thank yous to the family who selflessly gave my son a vital tool that my family simply couldn't fund by itself. I have always gravitated towards music, and I wanted to find the perfect song.  What I found were about 1/2 a dozen songs that really would have worked well. There was one song, in particular that I really wanted to use, but just didn't think the general viewing audience would have really understood why the song would have been fitting.
The song was Unconditionally by Katy Perry.
Here are the lyrics. I will do my best to explain why I thought this song would have worked beautifully and also how it could have been misunderstood. I did choose another song, and it was very fitting and I was very pleased with the results of that video.

So, song lyrics, here we go.

Oh no, did I get too close?
Oh, did I almost see what's really on the inside?
All your insecurities
All the dirty laundry
Never made me blink one time

I have often wondered what my essentially nonverbal son has thought. As weird as it sounds, I don't know really what he likes in terms of some small things and how much he has to cope with to get through the day. I have struggled daily with trying to "reach" my son. Regardless, he is my son. Sometimes, I feel as if I have tapped into him and have seen how ugly and beautiful autism has shaped him. 

Unconditional, unconditionally

I will love you unconditionally
The hopes and dreams a typical mom or dad has for a child is actually somewhat conditional in the beginning. That is normal for parents to do. Some dream of their son being a football star, smart, wealthy, and well mannered for example. We expect our children to grow and live independently, forming families of their own. The conditions are that they don't have any mental or physical issues, that they will share similar interests, and will have the same desires and goals that we, as parents have for them. What evolves as parents and children mature is an unconditional love and desire to help their own child from their own paths to success. With typical kids, the transition between parents goals to eventually recognizing a child's strengths is generally slower. In my case, his diagnosis at such an early age was similar to being dropped in a nice cold bath. At that point, all expectations and dreams went by the wayside. The only thing I had to hold onto was that I would love him unconditionally. 
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free

I will love you unconditionally
Before diagnosis, I had a multitude of fears. Why wasn't he talking? What was he doing when he was flapping his arms wildly? Would he be able to reach my "conditional" goals I had dreamed about if he was already behind his peers developmentally? Even shortly after diagnosis, I felt immense fear. I read so much stuff online and in books about autism. I saw somewhere that 70 percent on the spectrum weren't able to live on their own without some sort of assistance. I don't know how true that statistic is, but they considered successful independent living included having a full time job for more than 3 months while living independent of family or caregivers and maintaining things like bills, rent, insurance, ect. Looking back, I can tell you that there are plenty of "normal" people who cannot maintain all of the following! 
Back then, it was probably the source of my biggest fears. would he have a family, live on his own, have a job or be able to do things like dress himself? if he couldn't, what would happen when I die?  Once I let go of these fears, I made a promise to love my son unconditionally. Regardless. 
Come just as you are to me
Don't need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I'll take your bad days with your good

Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you

I was very much determined to let my son know that he is valuable, not only to me, but to society as a whole. I also wanted him to know that no matter what was thrown at him, or how tough the world may be that he had a safe haven in me. I would fight for him no matter the battles we may face. I would push him to be the best he could possibly be, but that I had faith in him, myself and most importantly God. 

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally

There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally


Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally

There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally


So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart

I will love you (unconditionally)
I will love you
I will love you unconditionally
Open up your heart
He will never have to fear who he is, but if he can continue to reach out to me and show all of his heart, we can do some awesome things! 

Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free

Will you do the same for me?
I have accepted him for everything he is, the good, bad, and ugly, but I. Am human too. I may not always show the patience needed, or be as strong as I need to be. I am asking for him to show grace as we battle in the trenches together. 

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally

And there is no fear now
Let go and just be free
'Cause I will love you unconditionally (oh yeah)
I will love you (unconditionally)
I will love you
I will love you unconditionally


As an endnote, it is very human to have conditions on our love, and although we may think we love unconditionally, it isn't until you are faced with some challenges that you realize how conditional our love has been. It is the ability to throw those conditions away that opens our minds and hearts to truly loving with everything we have got.