The doctor gave you a diagnosis today.
You’re on the verge of getting kicked out of a second daycare. You wake up to the sound of your son banging his head against the wall instead of an alarm. You encountered a woman who questioned your parenting and your son’s mental health in the craft store. You’ve had to explain to your son numerous times why kids mock or refuse to play with him.
At first, you’re going to think advocating for the cause is most important but at some point, you’ll realize your true priority is advocating for your son. Not only will you have to prepare him for the world, but you have to prepare the world for him. You’ll be his voice until he can speak, but you’ll be his guidepost always.
These next five years are going to be some of the hardest of your life. You will lose “friends” and “family” over his diagnosis. You’re going to question yourself — a lot — and blame yourself even more. Repeat after me:
“This isn’t my fault.”
Along with autism, he will pick up an ADHD diagnosis and against your better judgment, he’ll start medication. Don’t let this decision weigh you down because it’ll be one of the best you’ll make. And while it will take you a while to find a pair of doctors that work well for him, you’ll know when you find the right ones. Actually, you’ll spend a lot of time finding out what works for your family and more importantly, what doesn’t.
You feel isolated and helpless and scared. I remember all those feelings – and still get them from time to time. Let those moments and feelings help to shape your parenting but don’t allow them to define you or your journey. Let the hugs, kisses, and milestones met fuel your soul and aid you in fighting the battles.
Remember them all because it goes so fast.
Today you have a rambunctious three-year-old. Somehow, we blinked and now he’s a handful of an eight-year-old. He’s a math whiz who likes to draw, create with Legos, and play with his very own friends. You no longer fear going into his backpack or to the school for conferences. His 504 plan, the very plan that you fought tooth and nail for, is working.
I’m not naïve, as I know there will be new challenges as he gets older. We hate seeing writing assignments in his homework folder lately. But if we can get through the years of potty training, we can get through anything! No matter what, be sure to look around and consistently thank your village. You are not a one-woman show, though that I know you feel you must be sometimes.
You will make a difference because of that little boy in your lap who is trying to wipe all your tears away. Such a small gesture, but such a great thing for a child you were told would never have sympathy for others. He gets his resilience from you, you know.
Wipe those tears and look into those deep blue eyes that you can’t believe you helped create. Sneak a peek at those beautiful pearly whites – his smile won’t be as perfect as his baby teeth fall out and the adult ones grow in their place. But those dimples, they are still there and untangle your fears and doubts every single time. As you walk out of that room holding a tiny, sticky hand, hold your head high and know that it will all work out the way it should.