I’m sitting on my couch with a heating pad, my laptop, and a cup of coffee. The screen door is open. I put a blanket over my legs and a podcast on the speakers.
And I don’t know what to do with myself.
The girls are napping, and Jack is at his second full day of “school”.
I mean, it’s kind of school. It’s… therapy? Clinic? Center-based services? It’s just easier to call it school. So let’s.
I’ve gotten better about writing about harder things, but I haven’t gotten good at it. This is a hard thing, and here goes.
Jack received an Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnosis this summer. I sought it out, pursued it — I knew a diagnosis would qualify us for services that Jack needed.
And I prayed and hoped and convinced myself that he wouldn’t get it.
But he did. He did qualify. And the doctor said: “Jack has many strengths. Fifteen percent of these kiddos outgrow this disorder by six-years old. If he gets intensive help, if he gets ABA therapy for 40 hours a week, we could see this go away.”
And this made me want to throw up. This made me want to punch something. This still brings stinging, mean, angry tears to my eyes. Because how dare you give me some kind of false hope, some kind of maybe.
I hate maybes.
And while this post is about Jack, it’s mostly about his mom. It’s mostly about how I am leaning in to this diagnosis.
It’s about being disappointed in myself for not learning the lesson that has been handed to me, over and over again. I get it, God. Thick skull.
You’d think I’d stop believing I was the one driving this boat.
Nope. The news broadcasted details of my divorce on the evening news. My sister went braindead even though I squeezed her limp hand over and over. And no matter how hard I “teach” him, no matter what I research and Pinterest and practice, Jack has Autism.
Exhale. Sometimes, that’s the one-way track my brain hurtles down.
I’m still going to paint my life in my dreams. I’m still going to hope and imagine and plan. I know this because nothing has ever been able to change that. This is about being proud that I know myself better these days.
But I’m also going to be honest: Right now, I am grieving. I’m feeling this, I’ve been feeling this, and this sucks.
I try not to think the hard things. Will Jack be made fun of? Will he ever date? Will he ever live on his own? Are the girls developing on pace? I try not to borrow tomorrow’s heartache. I try to give it the middle finger. Every day. Errrrr. Day.
Thick skull or not, here’s a thing I have learned: It’s ok to sit in the suck. For me, and you, and humans, it’s part of the process. It’s good to mourn the loss of how we thought it would be.
We (humans) are so uncomfortable with other people being uncomfortable. We want to fix it, fix it fast, and we go about this ‘fixing’ by telling people that’s everything is going to be ok, that they are strong, and then telling them just where their bootstraps can be located.
I am very guilty of this.
In the Autism world, this means: “You are super mom! You are the best mom for him. Have you tried essential oils? Have you tried eliminating gluten? Join this Facebook group. See this doctor, he’s the best.”
I’m trying to try (it’s a thing) to practice self compassion. To give myself grace in the process. For me, like too many other people, I’ve got enough firm; I need a little more gentle. The job will still get done. Me, I’m resilient and tough and I bounce back. I will tackle the challenge, no matter how I do it. I will kick this one’s ass, too. It’s my job, and it’s my job to do it well.
But this time, I’m not going to shove past my vulnerable spots. I’m not going to demand that I instantly redefine what my life looks like. I’ll get there.
Sometimes, you plan your life out and it blows up in your face. And sometimes, no matter how much organic produce and prenatal vitamins you consume, your kid is born different.
Sometimes, when we need it to be the most, life is not in our control.