Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where I need to go

"Is being a mom really less about our expectations of chubby grins and little people kisses and more about a deep love that is willing to go places we never thought we would venture?" ~Wendi@Every Day Miracles

This is a quote taken from my friend Wendi, who is one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring mothers I know. I could go on and on, but just go check her out and you'll see. I don't often steal quotes from people, but this particular sentence struck a deep cord with me. Because, you see, there's something I don't talk about very often with anyone, because I don't tend to talk about things that keep me up at night. The troubles that worry me to my core. Because Isaac, like most children to their mothers, is rooted into my very core.

Isaac, I believe, is God's little pruning tool in my life. With this young child, God shows me my faults, my shortcomings, the places He wants change in my life, and my need for Him. Isaac was born knowing how to push my buttons and keep me off-balance, and is able to teach me so much more about myself than I ever knew. He is both infuriating and incredibly loving, all in one hard-to-read package.

As my first born, I was completely smitten with him. He was a sweet, easy-going baby. Nothing seemed to bother him. He rarely got upset or cried. Then he hit eighteen months....and he turned into SOMETHING ELSE. I believe the words "demon spawn" were used quite a bit. It didn't help that I was half-way through my pregnancy with Lydia when it struck, either. He was short-tempered, irate, demanding, and when we spoke to him (or yelled at him) it was as if we weren't there. And he was SO HYPER, and accident prone, and a dare-devil, and fearless, and accident prone. We didn't know what to do with him. We didn't know what we were doing wrong. We tried every approach possible, but nothing seemed to work. When everyone else I knew was talking about how cute they were at this age, and said and did funny things, etc...all I was thinking was that I didn't like being a parent. It was SO HARD, ALL THE TIME. Not just here and there, or sometimes, but ALL THE TIME.

This went on for two and a half years. Two and a half very long, agonizing years. I barely remember Lydia as a baby, because I was literally in survival mode. I'm glad I have pictures, really glad. His doctor called him "busy". Even though Terry and knew that it was more than that, that he wasn't the same as his peers, we couldn't put our fingers on what was going on. Some people suggested we were too hard on him, until he ran down the alley toward a busy street, acting as if we weren't yelling at the top of our lungs. Some suggested we weren't disciplining him enough, although when we tried be "hard" on him it only made him more angry and more frustrated and often he would just shut down. We were at a loss.

Then, at four, Isaac started preschool. And his teachers noticed what we did. Finally, some confirmation. The word autism was mentioned, but he just didn't seem like any autistic kids we'd ever known. Sensory Integration Disorder was introduced and we were given some literature on it. Finally, we started to see some similarities, and some suggestions on how to help him. We took him to an occupational therapist once a week who focused on sensory issues. It seemed to help, but his behavior was still inconsistent. Finally, last March, after suggestions from three different professionals in different fields, we took him off all dairy. It's the only thing we've done that has yielded measurable results. His language improved significantly, 3-5 word sentences to 7-8 word sentences in one month. Our friend, a speech therapist happened to evaluated him at the beginning, just before we took him off dairy, and then finished the evaluation a month later. He was noticeably calmer, more focused and more...present. For the first time ever, I knew he was actually hearing me and understanding me when I spoke to him. I had never been sure before.

This year he is in a Young 5s class, school-of-choice-ed into the next town over because our city doesn't offer Young 5s. Thank the Lord, his teacher is a special ed teacher, who happened to get a regular-ed class this year. She's fantastic. And she also suspects high-functioning autism. We will probably  proceed with evaluation in March, as the older they are, the easier it is to diagnose.

Autism is a scary word. Sensory Issues is much safer, more comfortable. Autism is scary. Because these kids are hard to understand. And I have to keep reminding myself that no matter what is diagnosed, he isn't a different kid. It doesn't change him, it just changes what we know about him. And that is a good thing, because, frankly, he's very hard for us to understand at times.

But the great thing about Isaac? It's that he is teaching me to be a better parent. I can't fall back on old habits and patterns because those accomplish nothing. I have to parent the way he needs me to parent, the way God wants me to parent. It's a challenge, because everyday my natural tendencies and behaviors have to be denied so that I can be the mom that Isaac needs me to be. And that is why I quoted my friend. Because I'm learning that a mother's love isn't about cuteness and chubby cheeks, it's about pushing yourself to go beyond what you were ready for, beyond what you read about, beyond what anyone could have warned you about. A mother's love isn't about going where you wanted to go, but where you NEED to go.


Wendi@Every Day Miracles said...

Wow, first of all I am so glad that you really got what I was saying - because you REALLY did. Probably better than most.
And isn't is hard to admit sometimes when you aren't loving being a mommy? There is such a stigma sometimes around things being different.
I bet this post felt so good to write! Sometimes when I get stuff out there in writing it can help put things into perspective for me really well.
You guys are such great parents!

Redhead Mommy said...

It did feel REALLY good to write, and only you would understand that! I think I'm going to try being more open more often!

Shoop said...

Good for you Denise. This "old mom" really understands too. I'm gald you're reading Wendi's blog. Isn't she amazing? And a blessing to all who read her blog.

Stefan said...
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