When people decide to start a family, they have so many emotions and decisions to make for their future. We all have such great visions and dreams of what it will be like—and many of us even start to plan the child’s future before conception. We make mental plans of school, college, professional, and personal success.
What happens when these dreams are not a reality?
My pregnancy was very uneventful. I couldn’t have felt better, and after 9 months, the nursery was finished and the baby was home. All my life, I wanted to be a mother. I had planned for children and my own family for a very long time. The baby and toddler years seemed to fly by without a hitch. All early milestones were being met and some even earlier than expected.
We decided to homeschool through the preschool years and took many field trips. Things went well and we were both learning so much, mostly by exploration and play. Entering kindergarten was an adjustment for all of us, but we seemed to make it through without any major concerns.
Then along came first grade and I realized he was not reading on the same level as his peers. He began to struggle with writing and spelling and it reminded me of my cousin who has dyslexia. I set up a meeting with the school to get him tested for dyslexia, but when I arrived, I felt like I was hit over the head with a brick.
The teacher had her own concerns and she said to me, “I think we may be dealing with more than dyslexia. He needs testing for all cognitive delays.” As I heard those words, I felt like I could not breathe. How could this be happening? There was nothing wrong with my child. He just has a "little" dyslexia! I could not accept anything else.
What I needed was time—time to get past the shock, to think, process, and grieve. All of these feelings are normal. Let yourself go through and experience them, as it is a grieving process. I needed to do all those things.
The good news is that I did take that time. I grieved and came out on the other side as a survivor. I was then able to think more clearly. And what I realized was that this is all about getting my son what he needs to learn and grow and reach his potential.
I remembered that we had choices and that the school is there to help and that my child was the same boy he had always been. But now he gets the help he needs to learn and grow. And I am a stronger mom.
We have all found ourselves, at one point or another, comparing our child or our situation to another. The grass is always greener and you want what you can’t have—all phrases we have heard. Sometimes we must remind ourselves that we are all doing the best we can and we need to support one another and focus on the similarities, not the differences.
With every passing year in the world of being a parent of a child with special health care needs, you have the day to day struggles, the fun holidays, and some surprises. Good and bad.