Saturday, March 15, 2014

Autism Answers: The Family Reunion

Today was my husband's family's yearly reunion. It is also my step-daughter's forty-fourth birthday, and my gift to her was wrapped in a lecture.
You see, she told me today that she's pregnant, and already a few months along. She hadn't said anything to me or her dad before today because she's still feeling confused, uncertain, and scared. She wasn't ready to talk about it.
I congratulated her on the pregnancy, I gave her a hug, and we all climbed into the van headed to the reunion. Then I did my first deed as a grandma to this new little one. Turning in my seat I looked at my step-daughter and said with comfortable strength, "You've got to stop drinking. For the baby, you just have to."
"I like the taste of beer....," my step-daughter huffed.
"It doesn't matter. You already know my adopted brothers have lived their whole lives struggling with disabilities, many that could have been avoided if their birth mom had quit drinking for the nine months she was pregnant with each one. It's only nine months for you, but it's your child's whole life."
"Don't you know I've tried, mom?" my step-daughter finally made eye contact with me. "It's hard. My boyfriend is so mean, he talks to me like I'm nothing, he wants me to kick my daughter out of the house (she's also pregnant). When I drink, I can forget."
"These are all reasons. But you can make them be reasons for something different, something besides drinking. They can be the reason you leave him, the baby can be the reason you stop drinking and keep your job this time. They can be the reason you go to a women's shelter, or get support elsewhere. Maybe start accepting it from us. There are reasons for everything, sweetie, but you decide what they're for. You are in charge, not the reasons."
My step-daughter was quiet and reflective. I'll admit, she had also already been drinking.
Just as we were getting to my sister-in-law's house--where the reunion was taking place--my step-daughter reached forward from the seat behind mine and rubbed my arm. As we piled out of the van, she held me tight and whispered, "I'm so glad you're here mom. Thank-you. A new beginning. I know it...."
She had unwrapped her gift.
My much older than me husband, my slightly older than me step-daughter, and our mismatched youngest sons went in to join the rest of our family. We are not typical, but we are family.
The baby in my step-daughter's belly was my reason for speaking up with kindness and strength. There are so many other things that baby could be my reason for, but kindness and strength seem right to me.
Be sure to insist that your reasons lead you to something beautiful, comfortable, and strong.
I truly hope my step-daughter does the same.
I truly hope she holds onto the gift.
Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton

My step-daughter and my two youngest sons!!