In therapy lately I've been joking about "cherishing the moment" and how old ladies in the grocery store will tell me "They grow up so fast!" and my initial reaction is "THANK GOD."
When Tad was a baby we had a lot of breastfeeding issues and I found the whole thing incredibly stressful and upsetting so one of the ways I coped was by being very selective with the kind of pictures I took. There are no pictures of him nursing as a newborn because I didn't want to capture a memory of using a nipple shield. There are no pictures of Scott feeding him a bottle because I didn't want to capture that memory either.
Nowadays, I see people post nursing pics with a nipple shield or an SNS or what have you and it looks totally beautiful to me and I wish I had some pictures too, because that wasn't a neat and tidy moment but it was our moment; the only one we're ever going to have.
Today I was downloading a bunch of pictures onto my computer so I could delete them off my phone because I'm running out of memory and it's really tedious to go in and delete a picture every time I want to take one. Among the ones downloaded and deleted were pics of Tad's third birthday. There aren't actually very many pics and I remember exactly why: Because he was going through a phase of near-constantly blowing raspberries and I didn't want to post pics of him with his tongue sticking out because it's...not neat, I guess. Because I expend more mental energy than I probably ought wondering what his stimming and his other unusual behaviors look like to the wide world.
But just as there is no alternate universe in which Tad doesn't exist, there is no alternate universe in which he is not autistic. The moments where he is looking away from the camera or making weird noises or flapping his hands are not neat and tidy and socially acceptable, but they are the only moments we have.
And just like that I think I might have learned how to cherish.