For my wonderful husband and all the great special needs Dads out there!
by Shannon Penrod
My 8 year-old grand-niece asked me the either day why I waited so long to get married…I told her the truth…I waited until I was ready and had met the right person. I met my husband 10 years before I went on a date with him, but I wasn’t ready. I wish I had been, but I wasn’t, I still had some ridiculous ideas about what a good boyfriend looked like, because I wasn’t yet thinking of what a good husband and father looked like. I had a great example, my father was a great man. My Dad was a big man in every way there was, his heart was big, his passion was big, his joy in being a father and husband was big…huge, in fact. So, when I was ready, I knew what to look for.
My husband is one of the kindest, most generous, funniest men to have ever walked the planet. I recognized this in him immediately and fell madly in love. We got married and I thought I knew my husband; but I could not have had any idea of the depth of his character until our only child was diagnosed with Autism. Now, I have known some awesome Dads in my time, my father being at the top of the list, but I will not apologize for saying that there is something uniquely wonderful about the special needs Dads who make the decision to stay and rise to the occasion. They are men whose arms open wider, their hearts are three times larger and their hands hold more than the world can imagine. They are heroes! This is the tribe of men that my husband belongs to. There are no words to describe the respect I have for my husband and the honor I feel to be sharing this journey with him.
There is a small man that I am acquainted with – I do not mean small in stature, I mean small in spirit. He delights in putting others down, I don’t know why. I feel sorry for him. I do not tolerate him well. Especially because my husband is, or used to be, one of his favorite targets. You have to understand that my husband is the type of man who, rather than punch an ass-hat in the nose, thinks to himself, “This ass-hat probably has issues that I don’t know about, so I’m going to walk away and not take offense.” Yeah. My husband is that grown up. In this particular case though, the afore-mentioned ass-hat saw my husband’s willingness to turn the other cheek as a signal to keep coming. Mr. Ass-hat is not very emotionally intuitive nor is he the sharpest tool in the shed. I managed to stay out of it for a while, I don’t know how, and if you know me at all you probably find that as amazing as I do. Then our child was diagnosed with Autism and I watched my husband scale Mount Everest on a daily basis. I was so proud of him and so grateful that he cared enough about us to do things that I know were really hard. It left me with no stomach to have someone speak inappropriately to him.
One day I found myself at a gathering with ass-hat enjoying himself having a go at my husband, my knight in shining armor. Before I knew it, my finger was out and in ass-hat’s face. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I know I told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about and that he assumed that he knew my husband, but he didn’t. I am proud of the fact that I said nice things about my husband and did not waste any breath telling ass-hat all my thoughts on his ass-hat-edness. That would have been a whole other Oprah. I was pissed, but I think I kept it family friendly and I did not threaten bodily harm. Still, I am confident the message was received that my husband was no longer fair game for ass-hat’s twisted little game of let me tear you down to build myself up. The thing is, on the way home, my husband wasn’t upset about ass-hat, he wasn’t mad at me either, he simply thanked me for saying that he was doing a good job. That’s when I realized that while I had been THINKING about what a stand-up guy he was and what a hero he was/is in my eyes…I hadn’t been TELLING him. So…for that, I am kind of grateful to ass-hat…and I try to remember to tell my husband, without being provoked, what a good guy he is, what a wonderful husband he is and what a great DAD he is! He is! And I love and appreciate him and all that he is and all that he does!
If there is a man in your life who rises to the occasion and stands by you and your family, no matter what the weather…tell them how much it means to you. And especially to all of our special needs Dads out there, You ROCK. You are heroes. We appreciate you.
Shannon Penrod is the host of Autism Live, a free, interactive webshow about Autism. Watch the show at www.Autism-Live.com