99% of the time... or maybe 80%... ok, I'm not 100% sure of the percentages, but lets just say MOST of the time I am totally at peace with Esme's autism. I am totally at peace with who she is and what she can do.
I don't define Esme by her autism, because anyone who knows her can see that she is so much more than that. I love her feisty spirit. I love the way she yells "Mama, Mama, Mama!" whenever she is upset, even though she calls me "Mommy". I love the way that she takes her clothes off as soon as we walk in the door and puts on her princess dress up clothes - every time. I love the way she always matches her dress up shoes to her dress up dress. I love the way she is becoming her own person - hating all the clothes I like her to wear and pitching a fit when I try to put something brown or green or blue (read: not pink or purple) on her. I love the way she has become so far removed from who I am and who Cameron is and has totally and completely become who SHE is.
But I would be lying if I said I didn't want more for her. I want her to be able to do anything she wants in life. I want her to make and keep friends as they get older and more sophisticated in their social skills. I want her to be able to tell me what she is thinking and what she is planning. I want her to feel comfortable in her own skin. I want to be able to assume that she will be able to live an independent life. I want to be able to assume that she will have the opportunity to become whoever she wants to become.
Its that part of autism that drives me crazy. I feel like I can't prepare myself for caring for Esme when she is an adult because I don't know how far she will progress. I can't totally enjoy her as-is when everyone is telling you that more intervention means a 'better' adult outcome. I don't want her childhood to be seen only as a precursor to adulthood - a time of therapy and work to get to the part of life that 'really matters'. I want her childhood to matter, and to be whatever she wants it to be. But on the other hand. I don't want to short-change her and not give her every opportunity to succeed.
Sometimes I do wish I had a crystal ball so I could look into the future and see what it holds for Esme. Because if she is living in a group home and volunteering at the Humane Society, if she is living with a roommate and working a simple job, if she is in university getting her PhD, I would be ok with all of that. It's the not knowing that makes me crazy. Maybe not so much not knowing as not-being-able-to-assume. Or dream.
But Esme keeps us living in the present. To Esme, there is only the present. And so we spend our presents dancing to "Tale as old as Time" (or "tins-ol-time"), playing with 'prin-tense' dolls, watching 'Beauty Beast', and matching our purple shoes to our purple dresses.
One thing I am sure of is that this is not what I was expecting when I was expecting Esme. This is not the life I planned. This is not the child I imagined.
She is 100% more wonderful than I ever thought she would be. And that is one percentage I am sure on.