Most discussions of mastery – such as sports, music, drama, writing, etc. – focus on areas outside the realm of day-to-day life. Of course, discussions about the philosophy of mastery stress the importance and value of applying the approach of mastery to the mundane tasks of daily existence. But some things fall into the space in between the extreme and the mundane.
As the parent of two teen-age boys I can tell you that nothing else I’ve ever done has been more frightening, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, frustrating, enjoyable, or – ultimately – rewarding. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean. Talk about a series of plateaus with sudden jumps to higher levels; parenting has it built in. First there is infancy, then toddlers. Early childhood and adolescence (ack – puberty!!). The teen-age years. Adulthood. And eventually you have to learn how to be a parent without being a parent anymore.
As the parent of an autistic son, I also understand the unique challenges faced by parents of children with disabilities. One thing I’ve learned from my own experiences, and the experiences of other parents in a similar situation, is that when you are faced with this non-typical situation you are forced to really understand that situation in order to do your best. When you find yourself in a ‘normal,’ well-understood situation it is all to easy to let yourself run on autopilot. Autism doesn’t really allow for that.
I don’t intend to turn this into a blog about parenting, special-needs or otherwise, but as part of my overall study of mastery I can’t help but be drawn to some of the challenges faced by parents and the lessons we can learn from them that apply to all aspect of life. I will point you to some incredible writing and insights from different parents I know, as well as discuss some areas where I think parents today should take themselves off of autopilot and really dive-in to understand their kids and the place they are making for themselves in the 21st century.
For a look at some incredible daily writing about one mother’s life with an autistic child, check out Kristina Chew’s Autismland.