I am a wife, and I am the stay-at-home mother of two young boys. That is a traditionally normal statement. To be a wife and stay-at-home mother is the epitome of a normal life. And while anyone looking at that statement, living a similar situation, can feel how tired I am at the end of each day (because young boys are just exhausting!) I have more to add to my story. And now for my next statement, the one with the extra details: I am a wife (a woman living with multiple sclerosis since the age of 18), and the stay-at-home mother of two young boys (an 8-year-old with autism and ADHD, and a 5-year-old who is gifted, but also determined and defiant). Wow. Did life decide to play a joke on me, first sentencing me with an incurable disease - before I was even given the chance of experiencing a normal adult life - but also adding the difficulties of having a child on the spectrum and another who often displays challenging behaviors? Comparing the two statements, the ones with and without the extra details, on the surface the first statement looks so much better than the second. But here's the thing about life: it's not what you see on the surface that really matters. And here is the most important detail of all: I love my life and am happy each day that I get to be me! Because, while I was diagnosed at an early age with MS, and while I have had very low points of not being able to walk and not being able to see or think correctly, I have also been gifted with the knowledge of how precious each day is! Because, while having had numerous MS attacks, my miraculous body has healed itself after each relapse (not completely, but thankfully enough) and I am blessed with knowing how wonderful it is to be able to just walk, to go out into the sun without having blinding eye pain, or by being able, physically, to do yoga (even if I am terrible at it). I know that each day I am able to do all these activities (the things most people take for granted) is a day that I have been given the gift of relative normalcy, which is indeed a marvelous thing after having MS for 16 years. Because, while my MS does limit my ability to work, I have a loving husband who takes the responsibility of having a career and making the money for our family, so I am blessed to be a stay-at-home parent. Because of my husband's hard work, I can focus on our children and take care of myself, not adding the complications of working a job to my already stress-ridden, chronically ill body. Although it is not always easy dealing with our kids and their schedules, and being mostly responsible for our house, it is what I need, so when I do have a bad day I am able to dedicate time to my health and trying to get better! Because, while it is not easy having a son with autism and ADHD, while it is a struggle sometimes to get through a day without him having a meltdown and without us stressing over his education and future, I have been gifted a son with the most amazing of imaginations and an astonishing view of the world. My son is awe-inspiring, and I wouldn't trade him, just as he is, for anything in the universe. Because, while having a strong-willed 5-year-old son is hard each time his temper overtakes him, he is also very smart and really determined to be great in all he does. He is amazing, and just like his big brother, I would never wish him to be any different. When it comes down to what's under the surface, to the heart and core of my life, I love it, just as it is. I truly appreciate all that I have, both the troubles and the joys, because they have made me who I am and have given me this amazing family I am proud to call my own. So this is me: I am a wife, with MS, who is the mother of two young sons, one with autism and another with challenging behaviors. We are a household of disabilities (did I mention we also have a three-legged cat?), and while our life might be different from others, it is no less. We laugh, we cry, and we love just like any other family. So instead of focusing on the challenging details - MS, autism, ADHD, meltdowns - I will focus on the details that truly matter - Chris, Kalen, Riley. My family! My loves! My life!
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