The World Won't End If Your Baby Refuses to Eat Strained Peas

When my first son was born, it's like the universe looked at all my high hopes for him and laughed. Where I'd planned to breastfeed, he wouldn't latch. Where I'd planned to snuggle and cuddle him as much as humanly possible, he screamed at the slightest touch. Where I'd planned to be able to take him out to see my friends and family, he hollered indignantly.

It's safe to say the first year of motherhood didn't exactly go as planned.

The second year wasn't much better -- I learned that my son was autistic.

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While there are a lot of things that I could say about having an autistic child, all of the frustrations, all of the sadness, all of the hurt, my son taught me an incredibly valuable lesson.

First (as I've already mentioned), the universe will always laugh at your plans.

Secondly? Don't sweat the small stuff.

It's hard, no doubt, to have a new baby. Each baby is a person; a person who likes some things and hates others. As a parent, we have to ascertain which, exactly, are the things that he or she hates, and we learn that through a series of crying battles with our new baby. It's a crash course in how to please someone entirely irrational, but it's a good lesson.

With an autistic child as my first, I learned how important it was to not get bent out of shape about all of the small things -- so what if my baby only ate strained apricots? At least he was eating!

That lesson carried over into my second two children, neither of whom was autistic. Where I may have obsessed over the fact that my middle son required that I hold him at all points of the day, (what does that mean? Is there something wrong with him? What am I doing wrong?) I'd already learned that kids are unique. He wanted to be held because he wanted to be held. That was that -- no more, no less.

When my (now toddler) daughter insists that pasta with butter makes a great dinner 5 nights a week? Well, okay. That's what she wants. There will be plenty of battles of the wills over the next few years -- I don't need to start one now.

My first son was responsible for teaching me to enjoy the small things, and, more importantly, ignore everything that doesn't matter.

It's made me a better, more relaxed parent to all of my kids.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

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