The more I think about the two the more I find similarities between them. Being the parent of an Autistic child and running a Marathon.
When you start out as a runner you know how to put one foot in front of the other right?? of course you do. It's daunting in the beginning because you are unsure if you will last the distance or not, because running a marathon requires planning and a knowledge of exactly what you will be getting yourself into a few months down the line. So as you look towards the race day you start to educate yourself. You go online and check out what the experts say, you look at various training programs to see which is the one that is the most suited to you because odds are that you will have to fit in all this training whilst working a full time job and/or looking after a family. Then you get in touch with other Marathoners, whether they are first timers, novices, regulars or fanatics, any wisdom they impart will be taken on board because this is alien territory to you and knowing a little bit more keeps the goal in focus and the nerves at bay. So all this new info is stored and you are now ready for the hard part. The WORK. The hours have to be put in because you know you can only bluff so much, you cannot bluff 42.2 kilometres. So time has to be made to run. Do you get out of your womb-like bed 2 hours earlier than the rest of civilisation (as your brain screams "You lunatic, stay in bed") or do you put on your kit when you get home after a hard day at work? (as your brain screams "Are you crazy? Its raining outside, sit down and have a glass of wine") You have to do it regardless of when it suits because if you don't you are going to pay a heavy price come D-Day. You will be left behind or worse still you will not make it to the end. Then of course you have good days and bad days. You wake up in stunning form and head out with a spring in your step only to have a niggling little injury a few kilometres in hamper you day. That may follow a few weeks of frustration, a situation that you seem to have no control over and you are left with no choice but to feel like things are just not going your way. Other days you may feel rusty and once in the swing of it realise that you are flying along. You take the good with the bad and as you arrive at the starting line you only remember the good, because its the journey and the commitment that matter and no-one ever feels bad if they have done the required amount of hard effort. After the gun is fired its a mixture of providence/faith/karma (delete where applicable) that will take you to the finish line, and when you hit the last few kilometres and you feel like walking or just lying down, you remember the inner strength that got you this far. So you dig deeper and finally there it is, the finish line. Once you cross it you are elated and emotional and reflect on your ability to keep going when every part of you said "Stop, enough already" And in the days and months that pass you find yourself getting restless and being drawn into doing it all over again. Why? because you feel like you have to, because moving forward is the only way to keep your fight and your spirit alive.
I found all those parallels in dealing with Pearls Autism. The hurt at the start, the feelings of "will this ever improve?" The good and bad days and the looking towards the future wondering how it will all pan out. But the more we as a family work on it, the better we are getting and we most certainly only remember the good days. The future looks good because at the core is a dedication to doing everything we can to make sure that Pearl finishes her Marathon.
I have added the video below because it highlights the great work Autistic people have done in the world and the enormous contribution they have made to society(the tune is just the greatest). I put it on our facebook page earlier today but not all the readers here are on the book of face. If you don't know anyone with Autism it will open your mind, if you do know someone with Autism it will only affirm this .... that they are truly amazing and deserve to be nurtured in every way possible.
See you round the bend.