This is an excerpt from Jodi Picoult’s book, House Rules. Emma is speaking, a single mom of two teenage sons, one of them has Asperger’s. It reminded me of my friend Ashley’s post, Sleep Tight, and I think we all can relate to moments like these.
When Jacob slept, the slate was wiped clean, and he could have been any child. Any ordinary child.
Instead, during his waking hours, he was extraordinary. And that truly was the definition for him – outside the perimeter of the norm. At some point in the English language, that word had acquired positive connotations. Why hadn’t Asperger’s?
You could say I was different. I had willingly traded my own future for Jacob’s, giving up whatever fame or fortune I might have achieved in order to make sure his life was a better one. I had let every relationship slide, with the exception of the one I’d built with Jacob. I had made choices that other women would not have made. At best that made me a fierce, fighting mother; at worst, it made me single minded. And yet, if I walked into a crowded room, people did not mystically part from me as if there was an invisible magnetic field, a polarizing reaction between my body and theirs. People did not turn their heads and groan, ‘Oh, God, save me – she’s heading this way.’ People didn’t roll their eyes behind my back when I was talking. Jacob might have acted strangely, but he’d never been cruel.
He simply didn’t have the self-awareness for it.
Now, I sink down on that same chair I used to sit on years ago, and I watch Jacob sleep again. He isn’t a child anymore. His face has the planes of that of an adult; his hands are strong and his shoulders sculpted. I reach out and brush his hair back from where it has fallen over his forehead. In his sleep, Jacob stirs.
I do not know what kind of life I’d have had without Jacob, but I don’t want to know. If he hadn’t been autistic, I could not love him any more than I already do.