When you think of having a child, you dream of many things. You dream of first words, you dream of all the fun things you will do, the sports and activities they will participate in, the experiences they will have. You expect this ideal childhood...the 'normal' stuff.
But in parenthood you very quickly learn that there is simply no such thing as normal. Everything you expected goes right out the window and motherhood throws you for a loop. I tend to think this is probably true for every parent... but for no one more than the parents of a special needs child. This is just the topic at hand in the new book by Andrew & Rachel Wilson: The Life We Never Expected-
ABOUT THE BOOK:
What do you do when hard or painful circumstances turn your world upside down, resulting in a life you never expected? Andrew and Rachel Wilson grappled with this question after both of their children were diagnosed with regressive autism. Refreshingly honest, this book explores the highs and lows of raising children with specials needs, reflecting on the broader question of how to cope with suffering of all kinds. Sharing personal stories from their lives and encouragement rooted in the truth of God’s Word, Andrew and Rachel highlight lessons they’ve learned related to fighting for joy and thriving in the midst of trials—ultimately pointing readers to Christ, the One who promises to make all things new.
Now, I've got to start this review by being 100% honest and upfront. When I first started reading this book, I almost immediately dropped it and said, no way. It threw me for a loop and I found myself wondering how on earth I was going to write this review when I could not make it through the first few chapters.
Here's the thing- as you all know my oldest child was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old. But perhaps you've also noticed that I also try to keep a really positive attitude about it here on my blog, and even in my personal life for those that know me. Though I haven't always- especially in the beginning- these days I try to keep my sharing about the hard stuff to a minimum. This isn't because I want to sugar coat it. This isn't because the struggles are no longer there. This isn't out of fear of judgement. This is simply out of respect for my son and for other individuals with autism who may read my words.
You see, there are organizations out there who claim to support individuals on the spectrum who cause more harm than good. Chances are you know the one I mean- the big one. Rather than spreading acceptance, they spread stories of fear...stories of 'look how hard my life is' from parents of autistic children. They put out videos of parents talking about thinking of killing themselves and their children...with their children seen within earshot. And you know what? People living on the spectrum have been speaking up for themselves. They've been crying out and telling us that these organizations don't speak for them and that reading and seeing these stories is incredibly hurtful and demeaning. And so I am careful because while it's true that parenting a child with special needs most certainly does come with a unique set of challenges, while it can be trying and yes, even painful at times, I NEVER want my son or any autistic individual to read my words and be hurt by them. I want them to read my words and instead know that despite the challenges, I love and accept and truly try to do the best that I can.
But when I started this book? Honestly, the beginning felt very much like that same spread of fear that I cannot stand. That same distaste for autism that so many living with it have spoke out against. I thought this was a story about spreading hope... not fear? As I said, I almost put it down. In fact, if I hadn't been reviewing it, I might have. Listen, I know better than anyone the struggles of having an autistic child. I've had those sleepless nights when your child is unable to sleep and wakes every hour on the hour screaming. I've had (and still have) a body covered in bumps and bruises from physical aggression. I've had negative comments and judgement towards myself as a mother and my child. I have pulled my hair out wondering if potty training will ever finally click. I've worried and waited and wondered. But I choose to focus on the positive. This book in those first few chapters seemed to be all focused on the negative.
But I kept on reading...and honestly I'm thankful I did. I realized that they got it, they really did. They understood that in spite of the struggles, there are blessings. They understand that while it's not the life they expected, it was not an awful life. There is good, and through it all- the good and the bad--- there is hope. Receiving the diagnosis of autism for your child is a process and more often than not that process starts with feelings of uncertainty and fear. Through time (and prayer), you reach that point of accepting and adapting to your new normal. There are still times of struggling and fear, but you start leaning on the positives more...and this book truly is a great depiction of that process. We see those moments of weakness and fear, and likewise we see those moments of coming to terms with it all. And while I still may not agree with every aspect that they discuss, perhaps this is truly what new to the diagnosis parents need...a book that says you're not alone in these fears and struggles... but hang in there, you'll come to this point too. So, check it out, give it a chance...don't let those first few fool you about what is to come...
The Life We Never Expected is available to purchase now at your favorite book retailers.
And one lucky winner is going to win a copy for themselves. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below: