Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Great Expectations

Someone asked me recently what I thought I would be doing as a forty-something. Interesting question and, to be honest, the answer is probably that I didn't have any idea. Well, that's not quite the truth. I did hope that I would be married and have children, but beyond that I must admit that I really hadn't developed a roadmap.

I attended a university that has an excellent medical school. The freshman joke was that you didn't ask someone what their major was, instead the question was, "Are you pre-med?" I used to answer that question with the cocky confidence of a college student. No, I was not pre-med, I was an English Literature major—wait it gets better—with a minor in the Humanities and Chinese language. Come back and talk with me after you've attempted Organic Chemistry, I would think to myself because I did not then have the confidence to say it out loud, and we will see what your major is NOW.

I also became accustomed to answering the inevitable question, "What are you going to do with that?" And my reply was always, "Anything I want." I did and still do believe that critical thinking skills and writing ability are important, no matter what career is chosen, but what could possibly have prepared me for this path my life has taken?

My Chinese professor once gave some important advice about life. "Just do SOMETHING," he told me, not wanting me to be complacent. Good advice that I think Nike later may have streamlined into the "Just Do It" ad campaign. I have tried to take that advice to heart, but is there a college degree that could have prepared me for the day David was diagnosed with autism? Is there anything that can prepare a parent for that day? (Rhetorical questions, people, the answer to which is NO.)

And as for my great expectations for my life--did I think that I might be a writer? Yes. Did I expect to be writing about the challenges, but also the surprising rewards of raising a special needs child? No. Did I think that life would be perfect? Maybe, but I have certainly realized that almost everyone has challenges to overcome. Do I still have great expectations? The answer, for David, for our older son, Andrew, and for our family as a whole, a definite YES.


  1. Who among us thought that we'd be here? I love to hear about what people did pre-kids and's hard to remember that we all had lives and careers and could actually have conversations on topics other than autism.

  2. My degree is in music business. I was planning on returning to my radio career after the bird got into school. Never thought I'd be here. There's not much time for me to pursue that career anymore. Now I'm a professional ASD mom, but I don't get paid or vacation days or bathroom breaks (let alone lunch breaks!).
    Who knows where I'll be as a 40-something. Well, I know I'll be mom to a teenager with ASD- gasp! Going to my happy place now so I don't have to think about that one!