My Aspie Son... Those three words begin so many conversations in my head, in my work, in my writing. My oldest child, my teenager, my boy. The one who only started sleeping all night by himself THIS YEAR at age 15. The one who still needs my complete attention every morning just to get him dressed and out the door.

My Aspie Son... If I say it, and you know anything at all about Autism and the Spectrum, you probably already have a vision of him. You may be way off in many ways, but you probably already know about his meltdowns, his need for sameness, his anxiety, his inability to make friends--even his sadness at not having any.

My Aspie Son...  To some degree, it's convenient to have a "label" for my son -- it shortens the conversation, it helps people understand us faster. But it's also misleading. He's much more complex a person than "Aspie" might imply. He is incredibly funny, and able to turn a phrase we call "Kippisms"-- a modern day comedian/philosopher. We have so many things in common -- we both love poetry and science fiction. We both love movies and music. We are both ardent liberals in politics. We are both interested in advocating for people who have less power. 

 My Aspie Son... isn't the whole story of our family, although by far the LOUDEST story, the most obvious, the story that sticks out. 

My Aspie Son... Sometimes it seems he dominates the family -- that he is at the center of our focus. 

But it isn't true really. 
I've been thinking a lot recently about balance...about how to balance the very different needs of the three people in our family. It's HARD. The way we live it out isn't always reflected in what I write about--the little moments of sweetness and contentment don't make the page nearly as much as the big dramatic moments.

So I'm trying to start more conversations---in my head, in my work, in my writing-- with My Daughter.

My Daughter... the one who rolls her eyes at me one minute, and calls me from school to say she misses me. 

My Sweet Daughter... who dances like a dream, who is extraordinarily beautiful, who loves babies, and little kids, and playing dolls.

My Funny Daughter...who still thinks Mommy is the most wonderful person in the world--and the meanest.

My Dancing Daughter... who is competing in two weeks at her first dance competition. We have become ardent fans of "Dance Moms" --not because the Moms are great. They're not, they're awful and far too caught up in arguing about minor matters. They're terrible at parenting at least on camera. No, we watch "Dance Moms' because my daughter is visualizing herself on stage, winning, like Chloe or Maddie.

My Dream Daughter... who is nervous but excited--whose dreams are growing bigger before my eyes. I am so excited for her, and so proud. At the same time, I am nervous about her resilience. If her team does not win, will she be crushed? Will she be able to pick herself up and dance on? I've tried so hard to give her good examples of keeping life in perspective. But the greatest male influence in her life is her brother--and resilient, balanced and in perspective he is NOT.

My Lovely Daughter... she holds the dreams of my heart, but I hope and pray they rest lightly on her--I want only for her to be a STRONG and HAPPY woman. I feel like I struggle daily to give her the tools to be so.

Heck, I struggle daily to be so myself.