Monday, January 30, 2012

Daddy's Girl

Dads have a special spot in their heart for their little girls.  They have a way of wrapping their daddys around their little fingers from the moment they are born.  Little girls are precious, little girls are their princesses, and dads will do whatever they can to protect their bundles of joy.  Katie and her daddy are no different.  Katie was a happy baby from the first moment she opened her eyes.  She laughed, she smiled, and that was all it took.  Daddy was hers, and always has been.  He is very protective of her, but also loves to tease her and laugh with her, and when he watches her living her life, the pride is evident on his face.

On the other hand, Daddy is Katie's favorite person in the whole world.  She prefers him to anyone.  She wants to sit by him at dinner, wants to ride with him on the Tea Cups at Disney, and when she snuggles up to him on the couch she claims that it is "her spot".  If my husband and I have to go seperate ways, it is always Daddy that Katie chooses to go with, and she wants Daddy to tuck her into bed every night.  She wants Daddy to take her on a bike ride, Daddy to come watch her soccer games, and Daddy to watch her at bowling.

I know alot of mothers would be bothered that their child openly prefers someone over them, even if it is their husband.  They would feel heartbroken or rebuffed by the choices the child is making.  I, on the other hand, feel blessed that my daughter is able to love.  I feel blessed that she is able to be a part of such a special relationship.  I would never want to do anything to harm the bond that the two of them share.  I know that Autism varies far and wide.  I am well aware that my daughter is higher functioning, especially emotionally, than other children with Autism.  It does not make her better than others more affected by the disorder, it is just a fact of how Autism has chosen to occupy her.  There are many ways in which she struggles with Autism, but I am glad that her love is not limited, nor is her capacity to express that love.  She is able to tell her Daddy that she loves him, and she tells me also.  If she decides to tell me that she loves Daddy more, I am only going to be amused that she is able to tease me, rather than sad that I am not her #1 parent. 

I have seen mothers look into their childrens eyes, look and look and look for some sign of recognition, some sign that there is some emotion locked in there.  I have heard children say "I love you", only echoing what their parents are trying to get them to say, without really meaning it or even knowing what love is.  There is no hierarchy when it comes to disabilites.  What is one childs strength, is anothers weakness, and vice versa.  Although my child is able to have friends and love her Daddy, she cannot write her name on a piece of paper that anyone could read.  Another child might be a fantastic artist, but won't be able to look a stranger in the eye and hold a conversation.  They all have their individual struggles, but also their individual triumphs.

I also feel blessed that I have a partner to share in the pain and the pride that we experience each day.  Sometimes a challenge or a disability in a child drives people apart.  In our case, it brought us closer together.  I know many, many single parents that have children with disablities, and I don't know how they do it.  Sometimes it takes every once of my strength to hold myself together until my husband gets home from work, but then i have the luxury of breaking down, because I know he is there to take over.  He is there to pick me up, he is there to fix whatever is broken, he is there to calm us all down at the end of a long day.  He usually breaks the tension by teasing us all to tears, and we forget about why we were so freaked out in the first place. 

The best part about sharing Katie with my husband is when she will do something so incredibly funny, and I will look at him, and he will look at me and we don't have to say a word.  We will just smile at each other, maybe chuckle a little.  She will be dancing in the back of the car, singing at the top of her lungs, and I will catch his eye.  We don't have to say a word, because inside we both know how blessed we are.  We are blessed to have a wonderful daughter who challenges us, surprises us, amazes us.  We are blessed to be sharing her, and we are blessed by her love.  And if, along the path in our Adventures of Autism, if Katie decides that she loves Daddy better, that is just fine by me.

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