In honor of Father’s Day, I bring to you a guest blog from the Greatest Father on the Planet: my husband, Greg. I will admit there have been times of frustration when I felt that I was doing “it all” for autism. I researched, I scheduled, I lived and breathed autism 24/7. Then I realized Greg was doing “his all” to provide for autism, and that in itself is enough to send most guys packing.
Here is Greg’s very real account of how autism has affected him:
LOOK WHAT LOVE WILL DO
by Greg Hornok
I will never be nominated for Father of the Year by any autism association. In fact, by most measures, I am a completely inadequate father for the special needs that my wonderful daughter, Lizzie, requires.
I am not naturally prone to have patience, understanding, or even a great deal of sympathy. I come home from work tired and little bit irritable. I have worried about the money we have spent on therapy over the last several years. I have worried that the decisions of which therapies to use were the right ones. I have worried way too much about the toll that autism has taken on my marriage and the relationship with our other kids.
Believe me, there are some great autism dads out there. I have seen them and am impressed by them. Those guys are Super Dads. They have the open checkbook for whatever new therapies are out there. They are intimately involved with every treatment protocol that their child is undertaking. They have enormous patience and understanding for every quirky thing their child does in public. They passionately promote autism awareness in their office.
Super Dads go to work all day, coach their other kid’s baseball team, help clean up after dinner, and then look for an autism cure in their free time. I love these dads and want to be one of them...but I am not. I write all of this to simply set the reality of who I am. So I wonder sometimes, after seven years of being on the autism journey...
”Why did I get the privilege of being Lizzie's father? I was certainly not prepared nor do I have the necessary skills for having a special needs child. What lesson was I meant to learn from all of this?”
The answer is really very simple: I have learned to love unconditionally.
It has been a long road for both of us. Lizzie is not naturally overcome with affection or appreciation for her Dad. She does not come running with hugs and kisses when she sees me. Her social cues (or lack thereof) indicate that I can be kind of an irritation. Maybe she is still holding a grudge about the time that I pulled over, got out of the car and screamed at her for taking her seat belt off while I was driving her to pre-school. That happened in a church parking lot...I really, really hope none of you saw me that day! Or maybe Lizzie still remembers when we went camping and I could not get a fire started (I told you I was not going to win the "Father of the Year" award).
I know that Lizzie loves me. She simply has a different way of showing it. Lizzie was recently asked why I go to work all day. Her answer was simple, “So we can buy Legos!” In some ways, she is absolutely right.
As Father’s Day approaches, I am grateful that I have this forum to tell everyone how much I love my daughter. I show her by going to work every day to pay for her obnoxiously expensive therapy. I come home every day and give her a hug even if I have to physically wrap her arms around me.
I asked Lizzie recently if she knew how much I loved her. She told me “Yes” and tried to get away quickly to something more interesting. I then grabbed her and pulled her back close to me and asked her if she knew “Why I loved her?” She paused for a few seconds and then blurted out very fast as she was running away, “Because you are in our family.”
The more I think about her answer, the more I have learned to understand it. The reason I love her is the same reason any dad loves his daughter…because she is mine!
Ladies, let’s celebrate Father’s Day this weekend by focusing on what our husbands are doing right, instead of what they are doing wrong. We cannot imagine the toll autism takes on our husbands, and sometimes we need to just give them a break and realize they are doing "their all" too.
Dads, hats off to you! Keep showing that unconditional love to your child and those around you!
Greg Hornok has been married to his wife, Julie, for 14 years and is the father of three children, Andrew, Lizzie and Noah. Greg is the Vice President, Branch Mangager for RBC Wealth Management in Plano, TX. The Hornok family is passionately devoted to the fight against Autism. Greg also enjoys being active athletically. He likes to compete in basketball, golf, and has been fortunate to run 4 marathons. The activity he enjoys most during the week is coaching his sons' basketball teams here in Plano.