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Monday, October 20, 2014

Smiling At The Truth

Hello again. I haven’t written on this blog for over a year now because there was a long period where I worried that the “mainstream” friends that my son was making through his swim team might read this blog. They were his first opportunity to be part of something that felt “normal.” If they read my posts, would they avoid him because his mom regularly wrote about the “blessings and struggles” of parenting him? Would moms run the other way when they saw me at Whole Foods or the neighborhood pool? Not return calls for play dates?

I had spent years trying to find a place, or simply a method for my oldest to “fit.” And my desire to advocate for special needs kids and parents through blogging was important, but wasn’t going to destroy all of that work.

But then we moved to a new state (Connecticut) for my husband’s job, and we happened to find a private school that has a special class for kids who are like my guy. Some kids are on the spectrum, some almost there, with extreme ADHD or PSD or ODD, and some kids are just super-sensitive…Those three years of boxing him up in a homeschool environment (because that was the only place where he could be HIM) suddenly ended. A rainbow appeared!

My boy is now in a school where there are 23 little people similar to him. 23 beautiful, quirky, kids who, along with their parents, have mostly been through unbelievable hell. And for the first time there is just NOTHING to hide. There is simply a smile on the face of a boy who found his people.

Today my boy talks openly about his challenges. In fact, the more self-aware he becomes, the more he teaches me. He says things like, “When there is too much noise, I feel really stressed and can’t think about anything.” Or “I can’t go to places like that. There is too much going on, and I go crazy.” Or “Everything sounds really loud and mixed up together and makes me feel upset.” Or “I can’t remember things. I lose everything, no matter how hard I try.”

At first his words remind me of how much he struggles, and so they hurt a little. But then they sparkle with a light that is reassuring, a glow that proves he is a work of God’s undeniable grace. I see his new ability to analyze himself as proof that the struggles were part of the plan. He has been through an incredible journey for a boy of only nine years— heart surgery, arrhythmia, kicked out of preschool, different private schools, different aides, friends nowhere, nowhere to be a boy. And now he can look in the mirror and sometimes see his own reflection, with compassion. The reason? Maybe because he is in a place where he is considered “normal…” A place where he is encouraged to explore the truth.

Here’s the blessing: I want to live in the truth, too, just like my 9-year-old. Leave the fear behind and see my reflection clearly staring back at me… See all of the inadequacies there, and stare them down them without fear or shame. 

Learning from him means learning to love my family when we can’t get our sh##
together. Can’t get out the door to go to church because my guy is having a dismal morning, leading to two more tantrums echoing down the hall. Can’t get to school on time. Can’t leave a party without a scene. Can’t turn in homework unless it is crumpled up and lost for two days…

I will be there with my kids and my husband. Flesh as it really is. Messy. I’ll stop chasing that illusion of a family, of a woman, of a mom who just does not exist. The light will come through, anyway, somehow. It always does. And I will smile, just like my boy.


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