26: No Matter What

26: No Matter What

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

No Matter What

Every plan in life is different. Each leads to its own perfection. When we allow hope and love to exceed fear, we will experience harmony in everything we do.

~Johnny Tan

My mother tried to have a baby for fifteen years. When I was finally born after a C-section when the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, I was her miracle baby.

Later, my mother had to come to grips with my autism diagnosis. This was especially hard after my father died when I was three.

Lucky for me, my mom recognized my potential and didn’t listen to all the negativity that she heard from doctors. She also married my stepfather Bruce, who has become my real father and who I call “Dad.”

Recently, while visiting with my parents one Saturday night, I asked my mom to talk about my childhood challenges.

“Well, your dad and I took you to Johns Hopkins to see a specialist when you were about twelve.” She turned and looked at my fiancée for a moment before continuing. “Amber, that was the longest car ride ever. For twelve hours, he would not shut up about an Elmo doll. Bruce and I wanted to throw Elmo out the car window.”

“Sorry about that. I’m surprised you didn’t send me to live with Elmo,” I retorted, laughing.

The doctors at Johns Hopkins, like those back home, told my mom I would have problems. It was at Johns Hopkins that doctors discovered that in addition to the autism, there was frontal lobe damage to my brain and that my development was three to four years delayed. I stayed in an observation room for about a week. Eventually, doctors sat down with my parents and explained what was going on.

“Ms. Stocks, Tyler is a smart child and a friendly child. He can develop normally. He just needs to be around other kids and participate in sports,” a doctor said.

My mother made sure that I was always around other people. I played baseball with the neighborhood kids, and I participated in basketball and football in high school.

Mom held me when I had meltdowns and accepted me when I failed to talk and made grunting noises instead. She made sure that I remembered to take my lunch to school every day, that my shirt wasn’t inside out again, and that I wasn’t trying to wear the same smelly outfit I wore to school the previous day. Most importantly, Mom spent hours meeting with my teachers and gathering all my paperwork and medical documentation to ensure that from elementary school through high school, I received my academic accommodations.

My mother’s tenacity and compassion illuminated the darkness for me and helped alleviate the fear and anxiety I had about school. She even worked multiple jobs so that I could receive private tutoring sessions. She made sure I got the best education possible.

I graduated high school and received the same diploma that the rest of my class members did. I didn’t have to settle for a GED or a vocational high school completion certificate. I had struggled for four long years and my mother had struggled with me. In many respects she had to become a high school student all over again. The algebra just about killed us.

I had made it and the graduation ceremony was glorious. After it ended, I embraced my mother while trying to hold back the tears that were flowing down my face. “I did it Mom, I did it.”

“Doctors told me you would never graduate from high school. I knew you could. Look at you now. Your dad and I are so proud of you.”

Now I am a published writer and student at East Carolina University. All because of Mom. She gave life to my dreams and goals. She believed in me when others did not. In the end, I wasn’t just a problematic autistic kid who couldn’t do anything, who had to live with his mom and dad the rest of his life.

My mother taught me how to survive in the world. She advocated on my behalf. She was my best friend when times were tough. She has been with me through thick and thin. When I couldn’t walk, she carried me. When I couldn’t talk, she graced me with her smile. Her determination and courage have truly been uplifting. She made up her mind from the moment I came into the world that God had a plan for me. My mom gave me the eyes to see that plan. My mom is the reason I am what I am today.

~Tyler Stocks

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