Tag Archives: God

Is it ever enough?

Burdened down with the guilt that comes from working full time and trying to juggle the demands of a family, I often fault myself for not doing enough on my child’s behalf. A woman’s work is indeed never done in even the best of circumstances, but when you are raising a child with “special needs” the question tends to stab the conscience with the succinctness of a butcher knife.
As the only person in my pre-marital family who is not an educator, I still took it upon myself to teach Lan or have him review whatever material his teachers would cover. With an older son just one grade above him, it was always easy to grab materials in the summer time to preview and prep so that Lan would not become victim to his shortened attention span.
However, as the kids grew and the material became harder there was less and less I could do for my child. Being fairly well educated and a bonafide health professional, I was at a complete loss when trying to teach this “new math” now the standard in education. These kids were doing in middle school things I vaguely remember from high school! As my older son progressed through honors courses, I could no longer rely on him as a reference for what Lan would cover in school as done years before. I was essentially stuck with trying to figure it all out and find the time to do so all the while juggling my other obligations.
My work days on average tend to be long, usually twelve hours at a time. So on these days I am unavailable for homework, unavailable to answer questions or even to follow up on what exactly Lan should be doing in his classes. Fortunately, he managed to surprise me and his teachers by basically keeping it all together. He didn’t excel academically like his brother, a master of standardized tests in his own right, but he managed to hold his own! Consistently and frustratingly, Lan managed to somehow miss honor roll by one class throughout middle school. There always seemed to be  that one class, usually math, that kept him from the prize. He so desperately wanted to make honor roll like all of his friends.
The heartbreak of the report card always left me with a twinge of guilt. Could he have achieved his goal if I were more available to him? What difference would a couple of hours a day really make? Would it be enough to push him over that invisible edge?
Well, we’ll never know because we can’t go back in time and I can’t control my work schedule. Still, most mothers often wonder if they have “done enough” to help their child achieve his or her very best.  I try not to beat myself up over it. My husband helps as he can but is quick to admit, school just isn’t his thing even he has a Bachelor’s degree in business. I can clearly see why it takes an entire village to raise one child!
Surprisingly though, one good thing has come of this though. Lan has learned to be independent. He has also learned to be responsible since there is no guarantee that I am available to keep him on the right track. He now tells me when he has projects due instead of me prodding him about them. He takes initiative in regards to completing his school work, even more so than his “gifted” big brother. Maybe my unavailability was a blessing in disguise.
I can’t really teach independence while hovering over the child. His confidence has grown exponentially with my unavailability. He no longer turns toward me for answers but explores them on his own. I guess I should be grateful and accepting that where I am weak and insufficient, God more than made up for my deficiencies.
In hindsight, I can see this now. God prepared my child in ways I probably wouldn’t have the guts to do. I still have to prod Lan to “focus” but not nearly as much as I used to. In fact, he never seemed bothered by my lack of availability. I guess my guilt served no purpose other than stroking my own battered ego.
I have concluded that I will never have enough time to give toward my child as I think I should. Exhausted from my day job, I am grateful to have enough energy to complete my shift! It has only taken ten years to absolve myself of my guilt, ten years too long for the fact to sink in. God will do what I can’t, put the perfect people in place and watch over my child far better than I ever could.
I may never have enough time to spend, material to teach or even energy to spend entertaining my child’s never ending onslaught of questions. Yet, I no longer beat myself up over it and resign myself to being a deficient mother.
Lan doesn’t fault me for my absence and I shouldn’t either. I work because I have to like most women I know. It has taken years for me to move away from “should have, would have and could have” to “God’s got it, trust Him and it will be all right.” I only wish I could have learned this lesson earlier. But like most things of value, I guess it takes time to reach that maturity.
So, for all of you out there who wear the same shoes of caring for anyone with special needs and doubting what you do, faint not! Fear not! Fret not!
You will only make yourself physically and mentally ill and drive yourself crazy in the process. Trust God, knowing He can provide whatever you can’t and give you the energy and know how to do what you can. Sometimes we struggle so hard in our own power like treading water to stay afloat when we would be better off to simply relax and instead “float” atop the waves, allowing God to dictate our direction.
Will I ever be able to do enough? No, I’ve decided. But, I now realize that I don’t have to.
I could in no way ever imagine all that would be required of me mentally and spiritually to raise this child. At times it’s been frustrating but I never had to go it alone. Thankfully, I’ve had God’s help every step of the way even when I couldn’t see it at the time.
Trust God. Cut yourself some slack. Learn to be at peace and enjoy the journey. Never enough is okay. God’s got your back!

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Rite of Passage

Two weeks ago, I sent my youngest child off for his first day of high school. I’d done this very same thing, just last year, but this time was different. Unlike my brainiac first-born, my younger child has an Autism diagnosis. Asperger’s to be exact. Lan successfully navigated and “graduated” middle school managing to even pass those aggravating standardized tests necessary to progress. But this year was different. This would be the first transition to a new school where he would have to go it alone.

Unlike the transition to middle school, Lan was entering a school out of our district. Consequently, the comfort of familiar friends was lacking. For the first time, his big brother would not be in close proximity to watch out for him and rely on. Lan was apprehensive. My husband and I were guarded. I often wondered years before just what would we do when it came time for him to enter high school?

God has proven time and time again that He has my solutions before I ever anticipate my problems. I could in no way expect that Lan’s former elementary school principal would be appointed principal to his future high school. There was no reason to ever suspect Lan would ever attend this school as it was well out of our district. I also couldn’t predict that his former IEP teacher (that’s special education for those of you out of the loop) who taught him for years in elementary school would become a counselor at that same high school.

It took making a request to the school board and having it granted that placed Lan in a position where people he knew would have his best interests at heart.  Upon notification of the county’s approval, I didn’t have to ask that his former teacher be appointed as his counselor. The principal took it upon herself to do so on my child’s behalf. The familiar connections made years ago proved vital even before the school year began. With their assistance, schedules were modified and class requests accommodated. I am confident that what was painless with them would have been a headache elsewhere. I am so grateful for their helping hands that guided us each step of the way.

The first day of school was overwhelming for Lan. My husband and I probably didn’t fare much better. Lan’s first comments when I asked him about his day was that the school was “too big and loud and the students were huge.” I must admit several upperclassmen looked to be about the size of professional athletes. He looked so small in comparison. I assured him the next day would be better and prayed that it would be so. Thankfully, it was.

The addition of band class, a familiar face at lunch, and learning to navigate the vast hallways settled the nervous stomach. It did wonders for my husband and me as well! Even without the comfort of our neighborhood kids to watch over him, Lan ventured out into the vast hallways greatly annoyed that his overprotective parents continued to worry and hover.  Yet, by the end of the week, he was eager to head off to school, vocal about his assignments and looking forward to the first football game.

God answered a prayer I’d uttered years ago out of frustration. I distinctively recall sitting in my car contemplating school choices for him with tears in my eyes, frustrated and at a loss for answers. All of the schools I’d considered previously were at least an hour’s ride away from home and well beyond the capabilities of my budget! Thankfully, I wasn’t required to come up with an answer.

I didn’t have to figure, maneuver or plot out the points to the most desirable outcome. I didn’t have to go before the school board and plead my case.  With one letter, I was spared from enduring the inconvenience of juggling two boys at two different schools and the conflicting schedules sure to ensue. My oldest was already attending the magnet school located on the same campus. Our county has a provision that if one child is already attending a campus, any sibling can follow. Cam decided to apply for the magnet school at the very last minute. It wasn’t anything we had planned for. I’d been trying to convince him for two years the magnet school was where he belonged. Wouldn’t you know it would take a girl, not his mother, to convince him that is was a good idea! God used the opportunity given to one son to open a door for the other.

God put the right people in the right place at the perfect time. Twelve years after a “pervasive developmental disorder” diagnosis and five years after the Asperger’s label, Lan moves along aware but never thwarted by his condition. His attitude has never faltered and aside  from the regular teenage moaning and groaning, he continues to take everything, challenges included, in stride. If only we, as parents, had the same confidence.

I thank God for answering my prayer, even years before I would ever realize what He had done. God has delivered on more than one occasion. I shouldn’t still be in awe but His grace always overwhelms me. Not every day on this journey has been a good one. We’ve had our fair share of trials and meltdowns, but still we press on.

If I’ve learned anything in this back to school process, it is to once again trust God. And worry less. Even as the control fanatic that I am, I could never have orchestrated things so perfectly if given the chance.

I grudgingly accept that autism dictates some of my decisions. I am grateful, though, that it does not determine our outcomes.

God’s grace covers! Autism has yet to define my child, at least, through his eyes. The first week of high school was met head-on and we survived. God watches over His children. God continues to watch over me.