I was warned repeatedly (by well-meaning friends) prior to Harriet being born, that life would be harder and more complicated once she was with us and that I had better 'lower my expectations' and get used to not being able to do things quite as easily as we once did (as if it was ever easy anyway I thought).
Well, I am pleased to report that life is not harder and more complicated at all. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. Harriet has brought with her a calm and peaceful rhythm which has permeated each and every one of us, neurotypical and autistic alike.
Over the past couple of weeks we have all been to the following places as a five-some and all the trips, whilst not being completely uneventful, have been a lot of fun and remarkably easy to manage.
KidsWorld (indoor soft play)
Ampthill Park (for a lovely picnic, during the Easter holidays)
LaserWorld (indoor team shooting game)
The American Diner
Once upon a time I would have been far too nervous to attempt these trips by myself, with my three high-maintenance children in such a short time frame, but since the birth of Harriet, I once again feel full of confidence and, well, joy, I guess.
I realise now that these qualities were leaving me.
As I struggled to maintain some semblance of 'normality' I was slowly losing my joy, and my confidence was long gone! (I think that left me when Dominik was born truth be told, and when everything I had read about being a parent was completely false, I felt depressed and demoralised). I'm not sure if I had, until now at least, ever fully recovered. I think I got used to feeling like a failure and as a result I lowered my expectations for myself and for my children.
I would not go so far as to say I was depressed, because I have been depressed in the past and these past ten years have not felt like that, but I have certainly been losing sight of myself and what really makes me happy.
I am pleased to say that Harriet's arrival has brought with it a renewed love for my life. Instead of lowering my expectations as I was continually advised to do, I should have in fact raised them.
I truly want to be the best that I can be. I want to show my children what is important when it comes to living a full life. Is it really a clean house? Wardrobes full of expensive clothes? Flashy cars? Knowing your times tables or being able to define a verb or the pluperfect tense? I don't think it is.
Thanks for reading, as always.