Valuable Lessons from My Daughter.

While walking through the grocery store, I recognized a mother and her daughter, about 10 years old, chatting and shopping together. I knew the mother years ago when her oldest daughter, now 19, was friends with my oldest daughter. They met in first grade and became instant friends.

A few years passed and this mother and I were pregnant at the same time. We both had baby girls just a few months apart. I remember my oldest commenting about how the two baby girls would naturally play together someday. This never happened as my daughter was diagnosed with autism at three years old and this little girl was normal and healthy.

As I watched them shop, I couldn’t help but feel the sadness creep into my heart. The little girl looked beautiful and normal. They were having a nice conversation. The mother didn’t look tired or stressed. I thought about how lucky this mom is. Her daughter probably takes dance or plays soccer. She probably has lots of friends and goes to a normal school. I’m sure she can read and write. She can tell her mom all about her day and what’s on her mind and in her heart.

This mom is so lucky she never has to attend case worker meetings or IEP’s. She probably doesn’t have to fight with insurance companies. She probably doesn’t feel guilty if she works full time or spends time with her mom friends. I’m sure she doesn’t spend countless hours researching the latest vitamins, newest therapies, or healthy foods. She has no idea how lucky she is that she will see her daughter graduate from high school, get married, and have children. I’m certain she doesn’t lie in bed at night and worry about what will happen to her precious little girl after she dies.

And then something snapped and my mind switched directions to my sweet Anna.

I thought about how we sang songs all morning, snuggled on the chair.

I thought about how, despite her communication struggles, she can sing all the words to my favorite Adele and Pat Benetar songs.

I thought about the way she pulls my head to her face and plants a little kiss on my cheek.

I thought about how hard she works every day at school and therapy to learn the things that normal kids take for granted.

I thought about how her therapists and teachers love it when she snuggles up with them and sings her little songs.

I thought about the therapist who says she can’t wait to work with Anna and wishes she could work with her every day.

I thought about how she laughs hysterically at her dad and big brothers when they make weird noises and faces.

I thought about how excited she’ll be when her big sister comes home from college this weekend.

I thought about how she remembers every person in our extended family in her bedtime prayers.

I thought about her future and while it may not follow the “normal” path, it’s getting brighter every day with the progress she is making.

I thought about how strong she has made us as a family and how she has taught us all the true beauty of unconditional love!

And then suddenly I realized…I’m the lucky one!!!

Author, Catherine Berg

Catherine Berg lives in Shelby Township, Michigan. She is a part-time ABA therapist, substitute teacher, and waitress. She is also the mom of three awesome teenagers and one amazing 10-year-old autistic daughter!