8. Guilt

I was sitting in our group circle, surrounded by other men on the special needs parenting journey when our facilitator made an observation. “Y’all are absolutely wrecked with guilt. I hadn’t expected that.” She was right. Most people outside the special needs parenting journey see us from the outside in, as people dealing with immense unfairness and hardship. We are victims of circumstance looking up at a lifetime of difficulty. We are someone to feel sorry for. Most of the father’s I spend time with on the journey don’t spend much time feeling sorry for ourselves though. Instead, we spend…

4. Faith

In the early days of our journey, the months after our son’s diagnosis and my return from my last deployment to Iraq, things were unimaginably difficult. He wouldn’t sleep. Whatever devolution and regression that was happening with him drove an aversion to staying still long enough to fall asleep. I would lie in his little bed with him, holding on to him as he kicked and screamed like he was lit on fire. Eventually, he would wear himself out and drift off. Sometimes it took most of the night. Sometimes just hours. There was a night, in the depths of…

3. Roles

“A woman’s place is in the home. “ “Men are the head of the household. “ “Gender isn’t real, it’s simply a social construct developed by a patriarchal society to divide and subjugate.” “Men and women play equal, yet different, roles in the home.” These are some positions a cursory scroll of social media today will reveal along the arc of the 21st century gender roles debate. And while sometimes it doesn’t seem like there are any up sides to the special needs parenting journey, there are. My favorite one is that I get to sidestep this discussion all together….

2. Grief

My wife told me that my son had been diagnosed with Autism over the phone. I was sitting in the abandoned guardhouse on the southern bank of the Euphrates River that served as the HQ for Special Operations Task Force West in Iraq. It had been three months since I’d seen him. I knew she was worried about him. He’d stopped talking shortly after I left. The regression happened before that really. I hadn’t noticed though. So when she said she was going to have him tested, I figured it would confirm that he was fine. I was wrong. And…