This guest blog is from Stuart Duncan, an active participant in the online autism community. Stuart's is the fourth in a series of Father's Day blogs from autism dads.
My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (5, Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (3, Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. My wife and I do our very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure our children have the tools they need to strive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.
The father I already was. The man that I became.
There are some people that may or may not make good parents, you just don't know until they're put to the test. Then there are those people that you just know will make a great parent when/if they ever get that chance. Those people you really hope will one day have children because they're just good people.
I was one of those people... everyone wanted me to have children one day. Everyone knew I'd make a good dad. The problem was, I wasn't much of a man. I worked around the clock, I had no friends, no life... I really was quite depressed for most of my life because I really never did much with it.
It wasn't until my best friend and I made the step beyond friendship into a relationship and eventually marriage that I started to find myself. I started to take responsibility for my happiness and the choices I would make.
All that and I still didn't really feel much like a man... I wasn't proud of myself, my life.. anything really. I didn't go the extra mile for anything worthwhile.
Then I had children.
At that point, I became a father and as everyone predicted... I was really good at it. I went from being the guy at my computer until 3-5am every single night to being the guy in bed early so that I could be up with the baby at 5am while my wife slept. She had to do a lot of late night feedings and so forth.
I cooked, I cleaned, I changed more than my fair share of diapers.. I really did do it all. By the time my second child arrived, my wife was in a wheel chair beginning the early stages of what would become a life long struggle with Fibromyalgia and my older son, then two years old, was about to get an assessment to find out if he was on the autism spectrum.
My wife gave birth to my second boy, she doesn't need the wheelchair anymore but has been in constant pain ever since, is unable to get good sleep, my older son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and we began the typical long road towards learning, researching, wait lists, therapists and everything else that comes with gaining a diagnosis of autism for a child and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia for a parent.
Today, I still do all the dad things but now I do a lot more than I did before. I never get to sleep in, I give the boys all of their baths, I do all of the things that are too hard for my wife due to her fibromyalgia. I also do my best to learn about autism as much as I can and support other parents to the best of my ability. I write about it, I talk about it, I share news stories and I try to make others feel good when they may be feeling down.
I am proud now. I am truly happy now. I am more than just a good father now... I'm a man.
My life is far from easy, but it's also far from terrible too. But I've finally stepped up and found that I really could be more than just a good father.
Autism and fibromyalgia have taught me to be stronger than I thought I could be, smarter than I thought I could be too. I've learned to not let things bother me and yet to have a whole other level of compassion for people than I thought I could have. I've also learned that I have far more patience than I thought I could have or that anyone could have. I've learned to let the negatives slide and to seek out the positives and to share those positives with others.
I won't say that I'm happy about autism and fibromyalgia being a part of my family but in all reality, I wouldn't be the man that I am today without them.
To all the dads out there that found out that they could be good fathers and especially to those that had the strength and courage to step up to adversity in which form it presented itself and discovered what it takes to be the best man that they can be... I wish you a very happy Father's Day.