04 May When Life Hands You a Puzzle Piece
On February 15, 2017, my husband and I found that our lives were headed for what I would like to call another “adventure.” Before I get into that, let me start by saying that I’ve always imagined what my life would be, for the most part. I would get married to Mr. Perfect, have perfect children and live “happily ever after”. You know, what most people dream about, right? Today, I am married to a wonderful, imperfect (but perfect for me) husband. I have 2 imperfect, but beautiful and passionate boys. And I can say that even though I am not living a “perfect” life, I am living a happy and joyful one. But, that doesn’t go to say there aren’t challenges that I face as a wife, mother or any other part of my life. If anything, being able to overcome those challenges with God’s help and learn from them is what makes life so great.
I will never forget the day we welcomed our precious first born son to this world. If time ever stood still, it was the moment we heard our Evan cry for the first time. And there was nothing more beautiful than to see my son, only minutes old, laying on my chest and reaching out towards the sound of his father’s voice. These are memories that are forever etched in my heart. The amount of love that I had for my son in that moment was indescribable and only kept growing as the years went by.
This brings me back to February of this year; another day that will never be forgotten. This was the day our son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Now, I always had a hunch that he would most likely have ADHD because he was very active and his attention span was not the greatest. Although I was never diagnosed with ADHD, I had the same struggles growing up that my son was experiencing now. Autism, on the other hand, was a tough pill for us to swallow.
Many months before we received my son’s diagnosis, I had seen signs that Evan was delayed in some areas. In the beginning, I thought, “Well, he’s still very young and he’s still learning.” Even though this was true, I was convincing myself that my child was just a typical child; as some would say, “normal.” But, the signs became more prominent and I was beginning to realize that my son was different. Allow me to be transparent with you for a moment and say that I never imagined I would have a child with a developmental disorder. This is not something that had ever crossed my mind (remember the “perfect children” I was talking about earlier?) I’m not sure that most people imagine this for themselves or for their children. I was definitely one of those people. And naturally, I would compare my child to other children and wonder why he would not behave the way they did or understand the things they understood. I’m not saying it’s ok to compare children to other children because I do believe that can be very dangerous for a number of reasons; but, sometimes we default to doing that. Let’s face it. As parents, we want our children to thrive and succeed in anything and everything they do.
As the months went by (prior to his diagnosis), the possibility that my precious boy would have autism was starting to set in more and more. He began having trouble in pre-school. Vacations were really rough on him as he was not on his normal routine. And the hardest part was having to explain to people why Evan would behave the way he did. At this point, we couldn’t offer a reason. And I get it, because I used to be one of those people who would say, “Well, my kids are not going to behave that way.” “My kids will do this and that”…. Blah…blah…blah!!! Boy, does life have a way of bringing you back to reality!
Now that I’m on the other side of this situation, my perspective has changed drastically. Sometimes, being put in a situation that you’re not accustomed to has a way of humbling you, but also changes your mindset for the better. Understanding is now such a significant word for me. It wasn’t until life handed me a puzzle piece that I was able to get a better grasp of that understanding.
In a way, I believe that God was preparing me for it all along. When Evan was about 5 months old, I had accepted a job as a teacher assistant for learning support. I have learned so much during my time working in this position. Little did I know, this would be a training ground for my own son. And now my understanding, acceptance and love for children that are “different” has grown tremendously.
As for my son, we are working every day and are in the process of providing him with everything he needs to lead a successful life. There are some good days and some not-so-good days. With every day that passes, we are learning more and more what works for him and what doesn’t. Some days involve trying to overcome meltdowns and tantrums. Other days, we are happily watching our son pretend to be Spider-Man. Every day, I reach out to God for strength, patience, understanding and strategies. I thank the Lord for all that He has shown me so far; for changing my perspective of life and providing us with the tools to keep moving forward through any challenge that comes our way. This is only the beginning for my little man as we haven’t begun his speech therapy, occupational therapy and other interventions just yet. We know that many more challenging days are ahead of us, but we also know that everything will be alright. The Lord has been with us, is still with us and will remain with us through it all.
God handed us a puzzle piece that fit perfectly in our family.
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