I had intended to write a post about all I am thankful for today. That's the traditional Thanksgiving thing to write, and I am certainly thankful for much---wonderful people in my life, great schools, an amazing family, music, books...many things. But somehow that post was not getting written today. Last night was tough, not just with Janey but with all three kids---lots of emotions, parent vs. child expectations for family togetherness, the holiday stress, medical issues---it was a hard night. Not that I'm not still thankful as all get-out, but I thought I'd write a more specific post---about Janey, about being thankful for her. And I am---with all the challenges she brings, I am hugely thankful for her.
Where to begin? Maybe when I found myself a bit surprisingly pregnant in my late 30s. Not that we don't have an idea how people get pregnant. Not that we didn't realize you don't have to be actively "trying" to get pregnant, just a little not careful. I won't get TMI (for you older folks, that's Too Much Information) on you here, but finding out on the day after Christmas 2003 that we were expecting child #3 was a big surprise, and a happy one.
And then of course, leaving out all the extremely tough parts of the pregnancy, there was that amazing moment when I got the call about the amnio, the news that we were going to "get our girl", as lots of people put it. That was one of the peak moments of my life. I loved having two boys first, but we were ready for a girl.
Leaving out again the hard parts of her birth, the moment I first laid eyes on my Jane was another flashbulb memory, an wonderful one. She was unexpectably very blond, very light and so, so beautiful!
As Janey grew from beautiful baby to adorable toddler to amazing little preschooler, we had three years without autism. There might have been signs, but they were subtle enough that early intervention (who saw her because she didn't walk until she was 2), her pediatrician and many other eyes didn't catch it, even though we knew she was at high risk. I have buried a lot of memories of these early years, and I wish I hadn't. She was a quirky but fascinating little tiny girl, one who delighted us greatly.
And then the regression. And the hard years started, the years that continue on. But still---so much to be thankful for. Through all Janey has been through, she has retained some amazing traits. She is physically very graceful---the athlete Tony didn't really get with his boys. She laughs like no-one else. She surprises people constantly with her affection, which cannot be bought or bargained for, but is given like an award to those who have earned it. She adds to our family in so many ways.
I am grateful in a special way for Janey's love of music. We listen together to songs every day in the car, on the computer, everywhere music lives. She knows what she likes, and when she loves a song, and we look at each other in amazement at the glory of her favorites, it's the purest, most heart-felt connection I've ever felt with anyone. It bypasses the autism in her and goes right to the part of her brain that seems to have been never touched by the autism storm. We connect as equals, or as her my superior, in our love of the music that touches us.
I am thankful I have been given Janey. She was not the result of a trip to Paris rerouted to Holland. She is a destination of her own. For all the challenges, the tough days, the tears, and I will never pretend that there aren't many, I am still thankful beyond my ability to write for Janey, the real Janey, the endlessly frustrating, endlessly challenging and endlessly amazing daughter of mine.