Monday, August 15, 2016

Our New Normal

Isn't it funny how sometimes something can be right there in front of your eyes and pretty obvious for a long time and you don't even see it?

That's what happened to me. I didn't see that Noah might need a much less traditional path than we were already on. I thought we were being open-minded and proactive with his progressive school and top-notch specialists, but it wasn't exactly what he needed, at least this past year. I still feel a deep pain and disbelief that we are no longer part of the school community that we called "home" for so many years. I miss them, and the future that I thought we had together. I don't fully understand why things unraveled as they did last September, but what I do know is that even in such a wonderful school, he wasn't thriving. Each year the tears remained, the worries compounded and Noah's self-image sank a bit lower.

I've never ever pictured myself as a homeschool Mother. In fact, just like so many, I skeptically eyed homeschooling, wondering how a child could ever get the learning and social skills one would need in life.  Now of course, after living a year as a homeschooling family, I find my early worries laughable! Not only have my concerns about education and socialization been flattened, I've been truly taken by the MASSIVE AMOUNT of opportunity, community and the quality of education available out there.

So what happens when the way you thought everything would be just.... falls through?

Well, you have to be willing to bend and to allow yourself to re-think, re-plan, re-work all of your expectations, goals and dreams. That took a lot for me to do, especially because we were at the same school since Noah was three, and I fully expected him to graduate with all of his friends. I had imagined the ceremony many many times. It was a dream.

Now that the new school year is upon us, and Noah is not in a place where he can go back to school, I have come to accept that I've come to realize and embrace the reality of not having a neuro-typical child and honoring his unique needs. (For those of you who might not know, Noah has ADHD- inattentive type, Anxiety and is 2e.)

Hi. My name is Lauren, and I recently realized that I am the parent of a child who has a different set of needs. Maybe even more importantly, I realized that I have to stop struggling to make him just act like all the neuro-typical kids. It's far better to laugh and accept and joyously search for the best-fit path, than to wear myself down fighting it. THAT awareness has made all the difference in the world.

Some days I feel exhausted, especially when Noah resists doing schoolwork for me.  Sometimes I feel a little down when I think about the vastly different life I used to have. Somewhere there must be more help, as we have yet to find just the right mix of  support, but I know we'll get there.

I also know is that Noah is a very caring, gentle, sweet boy who has always had a most sensitive heart. He loves animals and helping others. He worries about people's feelings and the world.  He's never been one for competitive sports or being too rough and tumble, but if you need a listening ear or a word of encouragement, Noah is your guy. This knowledge makes the hard times worth it.


So what this mean for our new normal? It means we have to re-think every single thing we thought we knew about parenting our child. It means that we have to learn to be even more flexible, even more open to different routes and paths of doing things. We have to change our expectations, not goals. Noah can still do anything at all that he sets his mind to, but our expectation of straight lines to get there, they have to become more fluid.

It means that we can never give up on finding the right situations to best help our child. It means more appointments, it means being ok with and thankful that we can allocate some of our income to helping him. It means learning how to advocate for Noah, asking for more help, and to find more support. It means that I make less excuses, more boundaries. It means that Jon and I can't let the stress of our new normal get the best of our marriage. It means being ok with the sad feelings I have when I see happy families on Facebook doing all of the things that I wish we could as well, but not letting those feelings overwhelm me. It mean taking care of all of us, extra. It means letting Noah know that HE CAN DO IT!!!! \(^0^)/

As August rolls in, I don't know what this year will bring. I have a feeling some of the same, but also, good things as well. I feel more hopeful and stronger than I did last year, and for all the hardship and tears, a lesson was learned - one of gracefully embracing whatever life brings you.



Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with your son over the last year. It has been an enormous encouragement to me. Sometimes it just helps to know you aren't the only one out there. I stumbled upon your blog a year ago when I developed a sudden hair dye allergy. And then last fall my son was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD but we knew there had to be more going on. We just received further diagnosis a few weeks ago of autism spectrum disorder level 1 and also 2e. So now our journey changes again and becomes more complicated. But he is also amazing, kind and insightful. I wouldn't change him a bit but just want him to be as happy and successful as possible. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much your sharing has been encouragement to me. All the best to you this fall!

Lauren said...

Sarah!!! Hi friend!! \('-')/

Your comment was so touching. thank you very very much for stopping to write. It helps me to know that we're not alone on this journey either! Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you with all of the twists and turns. The more we learn about our children, the more we can help them. Even though things get more complicated. A hair dye allergy alone is enough to deal with, right!? ;)

I'm glad you're here and happy the post could help. Thank you again for writing, that made my day.

All the best to you too this fall!

Dianne O’Connor said...

Lauren, as you know, you have an exceptionally wonderful child with a caring heart. I am touched by your thoughtful care for Noah and your willingness to learn what needs to be learned. Your optimism and love for Noah will move you forward. My heart is always with you and your family.

Lauren said...

Dear Dianne,

What a beautiful, supportive and encouraging comment to wake up to. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.
I appreciate it very very much.

We love and miss you. Thanks you for always being there for us. :)

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox said...

With the depth of your caring and never ending search to make wonderful accomplishments, you can't possibly fail! Any waiting is such a pain! Hang in there. You will make it worthwhile! With love, Margaret.

Lauren said...

Dear Marge,

Your words are always so touching to me, and supportive. Thank you, you make a difference in my life! <3

I hope you have a wonderful day today. :)

Melissa said...

Hi Lauren,

I have no idea how I ever ended up on this blog--you and I have very little in common. I don't have gray hair, I live in the South, I rent an apartment, I work. I don't have any children. Polar opposites in many ways. I've also never commented. However, I've been visiting your blog for over a year now, and what keeps me coming back is your obvious love for your family and the life you live, even when it is hard. You are incredibly dedicated, from what I can see, and that will lead you, Noah, and your husband to great results. Hopefully this comment provides you with a little bit more support and oomph for another day. You're amazing, and navigating a different path is always a great challenge!

Lauren said...

Dear Melissa,

Not only has your comment provided me support and encouragement (and oomph!) for another day, you have touched my heart. Thank you , thank you, for stopping to leave some words. Thank you, I have tears in my eyes. I loved it and treasure your comment. I'm also grateful that you stumbled up on the blog and although opposites in many ways, that you take the time to read. So thank you Melissa, you have truly made my day and help me to know that even on the rocky days, it's so worth it.

Sending love from Michigan.

carrielens said...

As always, I am cheering for you and yours. Much love and respect to you from miles away.