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Dear Justin,

It’s so quiet in the house this morning. Both you and your brother are off at school, your dad is out running errands, and for once I am alone.

I won’t lie to you. Especially after all the togetherness of Covid, it’s bliss.

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On days I don’t work I have about an eight hour period of quiet, a time where I can recharge, get things done. It’s also a time to think.

And I have to tell you, I’ve been thinking about how in a different life I’d be missing you much more than eight hours daily.

You are eighteen, my boy. You won’t remember this of course, but nineteen years ago I was a teacher in Virginia, and there must have been something in the water that year because seven or eight of us got pregnant within months of each other. I am still on Facebook with many of those moms, have watched as their kids grew up, their development so different than yours. I think I’ve handled it quite well over the years, happy for them, with pride in your path as well.

It was the pics on Facebook of everyone’s “college reveal” (this is a thing now?) that got to me.

When I gave birth to you I figured about seventeen years later we’d be touring college campuses, filling out applications, waiting breathlessly for that letter (or now email) telling us whether or not you were accepted. This was a reasonable assumption on my part. Despite the fact that autism seems to be everywhere its incident rate is low. Your family is college educated. I assumed that would be the path you took.

I assumed wrong.

This year, instead of stressing out over FAFSA forms, your dad and I have been wading through various government agencies and lawyers trying to complete your version of college acceptances- acquiring guardianship over you, Medicaid benefits, Social Security payments, updating our will and trust to better accommodate you and your brother.

I will say definitively it has not been as much fun as touring a college campus.

The truth is Justin, your dad and I compartmentalize a lot of things in regards to you, but sometimes we can’t. I am sad you don’t have this choice. There are people who will vilify me for feeling this way, but these are my feelings.

Some days, my feelings were all I had left.

I just want to put this out there that it’s okay to be sad that you won’t have the option of college, or marriage, or kids, or a career. While I’m grateful you are mostly happy with your DVDs and the computer and outings, I wished for a bigger life for you.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean I’m not proud of you. It doesn’t mean you can’t live a life on your terms that makes you happy.

It’s okay to be sad and simultaneously grateful.

It’s okay to mourn things that cannot be.

Feelings are okay as long as they don’t paralyze me and prevent me from helping you live your best life.

Because at the end of the day, both of you boys fulfilling your dreams is what drives my every waking moment.

I love you.

For more on my family visit my blog at

Follow me on Facebook at Autism Mommy-Therapist

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