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Are Roots Enough?

Guest Post by Lisa, Maggie’s Mom. Maggie is a teenage girl with aspergers… we met them through Face Book on a paged called “this moment doesn’t define you”.

One of our beloved hibiscus plants. we have planted 9 varieties over the years.

One of our beloved hibiscus plants. we have planted 9 varieties over the years.

I always longed for roots when I was growing up. And swore I would give them to my children someday. By the time I was 20 I had moved 19 times. I looked longingly at families that had homes they grew up in, people and places as familiar as breathing, the comforting feeling that no matter where life took them, there was always someplace to call home.


In the past 30 years, I have done that-established those much dreamed of roots. I have lived in this town all those years, planting trees and bushes and flowers to celebrate milestones. Watching perennials and bushes bloom year after year after year. So at ease in my home I can find my way anywhere in the dark.


Many of those trees now tower over the 2 houses I own. One  oak tree is huge, despite the fact big sister broke it to the ground 3 times the year we planted it when she was a busy toddler. I always look and remember-we planted that tree on mother’s day when big sister was born. We bought that bush when Maggie started school. We planted the purple hibiscus when we bought the new house, the year Maggie turned 3.  Our yard, and the yard of the house big sister grew up in that she now lives in as an adult, is also filled with little graves of our beloved pets . Rocky, the cat, who died at 17, laid to rest under the spireas she loved to hide in.Then there’s  Lucky, the cocker spaniel, who , after we moved, still headed daily to the old house he grew up in, even though he was 1/2 blind and deaf. He is now buried under the red maple he watched us plant 15 years prior to his passing. And Cinnamon, the siamese cat who got cancer last year, buried by the sweet pea vine she always sunned herself under. Numerous rabbits, hamsters, other beloved cats, all tucked away for eternity in some corner of our world.


I love that big sister is blocks away, living in the house she grew up in, that still has the marks on the kitchen door frame that recorded her growth each year. That when she pulled up the carpet to redo the wood floors we found the stick figures she drew on it with a marker. That her office that used to be a nursery still sports the circus wallpaper I hung while 8 months pregnant with Maggie.  I love that Maggie has her sister close by, her only true friend in the world.


I love that my basement is filled with boxes of toys and clothes from both girls, me too sentimental to let go, thinking someday my grandkids will go down there and find them. Big sister’s room as a teenager is still down there, the walls covered with posters and art. I love that my guest room has a border with bugs and butterflies, because it was Maggie’s room as a toddler, and she was fascinated with bugs at that time.


So many memories.


I’ve been at my job for 20 years. The 14 towns I spend my days in are filled with people  that all know me, greet me, ask about my family. I know everyone in our small town, and they know us. Good or bad-I have roots, my kids do. This is home.


But everything has changed now. I find myself longing for a new life. New places. New people. Somewhere we can start fresh. Where there are more opportunities for a teen girl with Aspergers. Where people are more open and understanding. Where my daughter, who has been rejected and reviled in our “home town” will find peace. And I spend a lot of time looking and wondering. And I think “this is what we need to do, this is where we need to move.”


Then I pull in the drive and see my Rose of Sharon, planted on my birthday 9 years ago. And fear creeps in. And sadness that what we have built here is not enough. That what I  dreamed of  all while growing up, became so much less that what it should have been.


Roots may not be enough. Life may be too short to cling to a childhood dream. The life my daughter is meant to live , and her happiness, most likely may be somewhere else. Somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere unknown yet to us.


Funny how autism changes your whole life. Makes you think of nothing but what will make it better. Where you’ll find answers. Makes you doubt what you were living for before.


Sometimes I dream that we moved and we spend our whole time trying to get back what we left. Sometimes I dream that we move and Maggie makes friends, finds a school and a life, is happy and at peace. After both dreams I wake, and lay and listen to the familiar sounds of home. And I pray for some clarity, some direction.


Our autism journey has been filled with a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Where we are at today, this decision I am trying to make, is one of the biggest. I do think there is something to be said for giving your kids roots, and a sense of home and belonging. But there is also something to be said for realizing when those things are not enough.

Maggie’s mom


Maggie at the county fair last summer.


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