Before I had Sam, I promised myself that I would be the cool father that every daughter brags about to their besties. I would be strict, but I would embrace all the nail polish, bedazzles, and her crushes. I would ground her at times, but I would take her to a Justin Bieber concert if I had to. I would be the man who will scare away the boys, but will keep a right amount of distance when I see that she is falling in love for the first time.
But Sam has autism. She cannot speak our language and cannot tell her friends about me. She probably would hate the feeling of having nail polish put on, and I know for a fact that she hates wearing anything that has fake jewels sewn in. She doesn’t have friends or crushes, and there are times that she hates being with people including, and sometimes most especially, me.
Before I had Jared, I promised myself that I would re-learn how to play basketball. I would teach him how to play the guitar. I would tell him the secrets to our recipes. I will climb mountains with him. I would tell him how I fell in love with his mother when he gets his heart broken for the first time.
But Jared has autism. He cannot grasp the mechanics of group activities like sports. His fingers would probably hate the feeling of plucking or strumming the guitar strings. He does not always focus when I talk to him. He also hates long walks and would most probably want to piggy back halfway through a mountain trek.
They need more attention than most kids. They are lazy when they have tasks; but too rowdy when they need to behave. They have their own language. They have to follow a strict routine. Simply put, they are high maintenance.
Which is why I sometimes wish my kids did not have autism.
Not because they are not good enough for me.
But because I feel I can never be good enough for them.
All those things I promised myself are not even an inch of what my kids really need. The time I spend with them is never enough. Everything I earn to sustain their lives is not enough. All the sacrifices that I think I made are not enough.
I am not enough.
But they still love me back.
They are the epitome of unconditional love. They are better at expressing love even with the lack of words. Unlike most of us, they do not think bad for and of others. They do not know sin and have an automatic pass to heaven. They love me no matter what. Even if I haven’t taken a bath in days, or if I did not buy the toys they want. Even if at times I cannot afford to send them to school. Even if I force them to eat vegetables.
Then I remind myself: my kids love me so much they would never wish I was someone else. So I should work harder to deserve the love that they unconditionally give.