Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How long will I love you?

Every now and then it crosses my mind... And although I don't like to, and try not to think about it, it's something that is inevitable - and is going to happen whether I want it to or not.

One day, I am not going to be here for my children. One day, they will say goodbye to me and be left to fend for themselves without me there to guide, support or even just hug them. One day, they'll be on their own.

Although we never planned to have five children, I'm glad that we did. They will always have each other, when their father & I have gone they will never be alone in this world and will always have someone who shares their memories, who grew up in the same house and felt the same love and happiness, whose faces are all smiling together in the same family photos. As much as it pains me to know that one day I won't be able to see them any more, it gives me peace knowing that they have each other.

Out of the five of them, I admit I do worry about what life will be like for L as an adult with special needs. The news is full of stories about terrible things that have happened to vulnerable teenagers and adults with disabilities. Being bullied, abused and terrorised and made to feel like prisoners in their own homes, and I can feel the panic rise inside me when the realisation hits and I think "I won't always be able to protect him".

Will he be okay without me?

Right now he has me fighting his corner, being his voice and standing up for him when he can't stand up for himself. But he won't always be a child, and I won't always be able to be there for him, and it terrifies me.
On occasions the thought of him being on his own without me reduces me to tears. I simply do not want to imagine him being hurt, or taken advantage of, or abused - because he is vulnerable, because his difficulties will make him an easy target. I've witnessed the ignorance and contempt that has been levelled at my son now, when he is just a child, and it disgusts me to envisage how much worse it could get as he grows up.

I ask A & J often - please promise me that if you only do one thing for me, you will look after L when we are gone. Please don't leave him on his own. Please speak for him when he needs you to. Maybe these fears are irrational, maybe I am worrying for nothing. But worry I will, because of course I don't know what the future holds for him. Or indeed for any of us for that matter.

Is it just me who worries about this?

If you only do one thing today, learn something about additional needs. Not just about autism, it can be anything at all. Educate your children, your family, your friends. There is no such thing as 'normal', and if we can all learn to embrace each others differences then when our time is up, we know we can leave our children behind in a hopefully more enlightened world, and we can rest in peace.

How long will I love you?
As long as stars are above you
And longer, if I can.
- Ellie Goulding.


  1. This makes me teary. I have a sister with learning difficulties and I have promised my mum the same about my sister; I will always be there for her, I will support her and encourage her as much as I can. X

  2. This made me teary as well. I worry enough about Harry when we are gone as he is (and probably always will be) an only child, so I can't imagine the additional worries you must have for L. xx

  3. I think of this often but, like you, I'm bringing my boys up to be close. RJ will have no peobkwm living independently, with.someone to check up occasionally. Little A will always have K, I know he will xxx

  4. Wow, this is something I have been thinking about a lot and it scares the hell out of me. My son is only 5, so hopefully it will be a long time until that comes and who knows what his situation will be then but it is awful to think about x

  5. This must be a very scary thought for you but it sounds to me as though you're bringing your children up to be there for one another and that is great. I do think that we are all hugely under-educated when it comes to special needs. I really think that schools should spend more time teaching children how to interact with and understand someone with special needs, especially as more and more often they try to be integrated into mainstream schools. Some of the things that go on at Secondary School worry me.


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