This is the post excerpt.
It’s that time of year. The time for change.
Butterflies have emerged and are drinking the sweet nectar of the last of summer flowers. Crickets have begun serenading, calling the autumnal changes to us all. Mothers and children emerge from changing rooms of countless clothing stores. Pencils and notebooks burst out of every aisle at every big chain department store. The trunks of cars surpass any weight limits as young adults venture off to college and mother’s wave and weep at the edge of the driveway. The evening air is just a little bit crisper. Each one, a dance, beckoning us forward.
All dances, are well orchestrated and choreographed as they have been for generations before us and for thousands of generations after us.
For my children, the dances have long faded as they’ve each been in their “routine” jobs for several years now. However, as I prepare to go back to school, I have the dance going on within myself. Each and every school year brings with it it’s own sense of excitement, anticipation and anxiety. You see, with each student, one must find the proper dance. One may require side to side, while one needs something more similar to a foxtrot, a waltz, or perhaps a tango. One is as individual as the next. And just as I’ve learned with my own children, each and every dance is subject to change! One never knows who will lead and who will follow until any given moment.
The most important thing for the student is to have a partner they can count on. I always hope I can be that partner. Just like the rest of us in this world, we all need a partner we can count on.
Do you have yours?
Did you ever play Truth or Consequences? You know, the game you play with friends and they ask you if you want to tell the truth about something or do some daring consequence instead? The name of the game is always followed by a question mark. But in my life, and I’m sure many others, it takes on a whole new meaning. Either learn the truth or pay the consequences.
I used to believe everyone was telling the truth. I’ll admit, I became pretty crest fallen the first time I learned someone lied to me. I made up my mind then to never trust anyone again. I can even remember my mom telling my dad “I sure feeling sorry for the person that lies to Jill, she’ll never forgive them.” For a lot of years, I stuck to my convictions and didn’t believe everyone.
Then I met and married my ex. The one person one should always be able to believe. It took a few years before I learned he was a better liar than anyone. Turns out, I didn’t even really know the man I married. Serves me right, I don’t think I was ever madly in love with him anyway. Once again, I ended believing people.
And then came kids. And school. I vowed as a mom to always believe my children. If I didn’t, who would? Only at the time I made that promise, I forgot I was dealing with little ones with special needs. Their truths are not always the truths of others. It is their perception of the truth, which I have learned is true with most people. It’s all about perception. Through the years, I’ve learned to read my kids and many others pretty well. I will always believe them, but I now know the signs and will use that opportunity to teach.
I had a note on my front door this morning. It was from a guy that says he lives in my neighborhood and stated he has a question for me. He signed his name and I was sure I knew who it was. I dialed the number, got a voice mail and immediately knew it was not who I thought it was. Granted, he didn’t lie, but in a way, by thinking I knew who it was, I was lying to myself. There’s a lesson there.
If anyone has wondered why I’m so overly truthful, the causes are above. You always know where I stand and where you stand with me. Love it or hate it. That’s who I am.
I used to think I was a grown up. I was probably around 21. Now I wonder what I want to be when I grow up ( now that I’m a little older than 21…ha!).
In the beginning, I thought I knew it all. I got married, moved far from home (I know, 3 hours isn’t really that far), got a job and set up house. This little country girl was living in the big city!
There were actually places here where I could go dancing every night, not just on a Saturday night! I loved to dance! We, as a couple, took advantage of the new opportunities of the big city night life. Made some new friends and laughed until the wee hours. It was easy then. Out til 2:00 a.m. (Sorry, Val) and off to work at 7:00 a.m.
I couldn’t do that today, no matter how hard I tried! Now a good time to me is sitting on the patio, having a few glasses of wine and hoping I can stay up late enough to see the stars. Oh how I have always loved the stars. I might even indulge myself with some dreaming and wishing.
At 26, I faced some health issues. I had radical surgery. The outcome was that I couldn’t have children. I was OK with that, as I’ve said before. I never questioned that I would be a mom one day. I just wasn’t sure how. I had faith. And it happened. Glory be, it happened!
So over the next few years, I was blessed with a son and a daughter. Did this make me a grown up? I was just 10 years older than when I got married and I was in for the ride of my life! I’ve discussed a lot about the medical and schooling side of things but everything I thought I was prepared for, well, it just wasn’t so. We have been on every type of roller coaster except those made by man. Including divorce and Dad remarrying and moving out of state. Two months after the divorce. Is this the life of a grown up?
Remember The Odd Couple? With Jack Klugman and Tony Randall? My kids, 8 years apart, are just like them! He is a neat freak. She is a slob. He is a turtle. She is a hare. He’s socially awkward. She’s a social butterfly. Seems I was and still am pulling one forward and holding one back! It’s what a grown up does, I hear.
They do have similarities though. Lucky for me! They both love to be large and in charge! And they know everything! I remember going into a psychiatrist’s appointment with my son one day. After the doctor asked how things were going, I replied “You either give him something to take or give me something to take!” Luckily, the doctor thought I was joking. I went along with that. Not my finest moment. Trying to act like a grown up, but having no real answers.
So fast forward to today. Technically, my kids are both grown ups. We know that with many special needs “kids” being a grown up doesn’t necessarily equate to being independent. It seems, they don’t agree. Who am I to argue?
After all, I am still not sure what a grown up is or what I want to be when I am one.
It’s a commitment. It selfless. It’s joyful. It sucks the life right out of you. It’s exciting. It’s challenging. It the most wonderful thing in the whole world. It is love. It is tears. It is battles. It is laughter. It’s all consuming.
It is parenting.
When they are young, they need us. We hold them, love them, kiss away their tears and fears, fuel their dreams, encourage them, help them see the world, teach them things, fight for them, laugh with them, and make them our priority.
They become teenagers. We know they need us, they might disagree. We hold and kiss them when they let us, try to teach them, encourage them, fight their battles, hopefully laugh with them, fuel their dreams, learn from them and make them our priority.
They become adults. How did they get here? In most cases, they begin their own lives. I await his calls and visits and try to be supportive of his decisions. She is out the door working everyday. They don’t need me anymore. Well, at least not as much.
I look in the mirror then down at my hands. Who is that looking back at me? Who’s hands are those? They are the face and the hands of a mother. Their youthfulness has faded, replaced by the lines of my journey. I look old and worn out. It seems unfair. My insides feel the same.
Suddenly, something stirs within in me. A revelation of sorts. I’m sure you mothers can all relate. All those years, my emotions have been locked away. I needed to be strong, their shelter in the storm. I didn’t take very good care of myself. I didn’t dare hope or dream for anyone other then them. But today, I realize, the youthful girl, the one that smiled without a care in the world and dreams in her heart is alive and once again, is dreaming not just for them. But for her too. It’s an odd feeling. Makes me a little fearful, if I’m honest. It’s shocking and takes my breath away.
I’m going to hold onto this feeling, if even for a brief amount of time. I’ll cherish it while it’s here. It’s warm and soft, it feels safe. It washes over me like the kiss of the sun. I think I like it. I know it won’t last. But for now, it is where I’ll be.
May you find your place today. Feel it. Enjoy it. It is yours and yours alone.
Life is filled with leaps of faith. Some enormous. Some seemingly meaningless. What they share, is they all matter.
Every parent knows what I’m talking about. Babies and children do not come with manuals. Thankfully, those that have walked before us on this path, are willing to share what they have learned with us. Many “experts” have tried to write parenting manuals. Some good. Others, not so much.
It can be a bit more daunting when you are suddenly faced with raising a special needs child. Your vocabulary suddenly takes on an entirely new focus. It requires you to use one set of lingo when dealing with doctors and schools and quite another when attempting to stay anchored in your pre-child world.
We are thrust into a life of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, the county, the state and Social Security. Our vernacular completely changes. We are new parents trying to love our child, do the best for them while receiving a new education while navigating the “system.”
Trust. One must have a lot of trust in these people. If we don’t, we seem to be constantly swimming against the current, alone, lost in a swirling of water that only intensifies around every corner.
I’ve placed my trust in so many people along this journey. My children and I have had professionals we adored and respected, only to have them taken from us through insurance changes. We dealt with one that claimed to be an accredited psychologist for the Twins of Minnesota as well as for children, only to find out months in that he was a fraud. He was not licensed.
Each time something fails, I’ve blamed myself. Don’t we all? I’ve been so fortunate to have the support of family, friends and a few wonderful co-workers But at the end of the day, it’s me. It’s always been me. The good, the bad, the ugly. It’s on my shoulders. The decisions have been mine. Yet, the consequences can affect my children. I’m not ashamed, to finally admit, it’s been scary.
Once again, the new school year is approaching. It’s always a time filled with excitement and anxiety. Decisions need to made. I spread myself a little thinner. I know you do too. It seems more challenging. More opportunities on the horizon. More leaps of faith required.
For today, I’ll be listening to Josh Groban over and over. Hear My Prayer and Bring Him Home speak to my heart. Find what speaks to yours.
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”
I ran across this quote on Pinterest. I immediately connected with it.
We’ve all felt hopeless at times. I know I have.
If I ever had any advice to give to any one, parents of special needs children or not, it’s to never give up hope.
I’m certainly no expert but I learned a few tricks early on. Being a single parent tends to make your eyes wide open, real fast. It’s changes who you are and gives you a perspective on things like no other. Unknowingly and without planning, I apparently embraced the challenge. I had to think long and hard about who I wanted to be and how I wanted people to view me. It was far easier to know who I did not want to be. I didn’t want to be one of “those” single mothers that “needed” a man to live. I didn’t want to be out in the bars every night. I didn’t want my home to look like a lazy, single woman lived in it. But what did I want? I wanted to survive and give my kids the best that I could. I don’t mean name brand clothes and fancy cell phones. I wanted to show them the simple pleasures in life. Things that were and are important to me.
I guess I am a country girl at heart. The three of us set up house in a semi rural area. A couple of acres suited us just fine. From our own back yard, we were able to observe deer, raccoons on the deck, opossum( ish!), bear, eagles, sand hill cranes and turtles to name a few. My favorite times were late at night on the deck, watching fireflies and listening to the sweet serenade of the frogs.
Now before you think that all sounds just too good to be true, it was, at times. We had our battles with schools, doctors, and each other. We encountered disappointments in others (as they did in us, I am sure). It was those times that taught me my most valuable life lesson: It’s OK to take things one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time and heck…sometimes, a second at a time. I learned not to borrow trouble. And by that I mean, I learned to stay in the moment. It’s not that I never worried again, but my worry was greatly reduced. It has served me well.
Stay in the moment and breath. Keep hoping. My Mom always said “This too shall pass.” And guess what? It really does!
I’ve had a great big dose of reality this week.
I spoke to the ombudsman.
I’m a legal guardian. I can pay the rent through the rep payee account. I can decide where my son lives.
I can’t impose any of my morals, ethics, rules or beliefs on my son. He is free to make any and all choices on his own.
I have to let him piddle his money away at thrift stores and garage sales. I have to let him have no less than 100 pens and 100 pencils and 50 little notepads. I have to let him buy 30-50 CD’s in a month.
I get it. Some of it.
The group home staff sure get to impose their believes and ideas on my son.
My sons birth date makes him 31. Psychological testing says he’s around 11.
I did the best I could to give him a solid base. At least, I’d like to think I did. Now, I get the privilege of sitting back and watching him go against everything I’ve ever taught him (insert sarcastic tone). Not unlike many parents, I’m sure, but it’s hard.
May he fly and be protected by our Heavenly Father. I can’t do it anymore.