My son’s health, both physical and mental, has been declining for weeks. It culminated in a crisis last week that I am not sure I will ever really fully be able to put words to here.
Suffice to say it was really, really hard – for him, of course, and for me.
This week, he is beginning to recover a bit.
He is asking to draw for a few minutes at a time and even read aloud with me yesterday.
He asks to play outside with his service dog, Sammy.
He wants to try a new video game with his brother.
He’s making progress and I am grateful. I am so very grateful.
And, if I am most honest, I am not at all ready for this next phase of his recovery.
I am struggling with my own expectations and the reality that is right before me.
For the past year, my eleven year old son has been fighting battles that would bring most adults to their knees. His mental health has been inconsistent at best and his physical health has required more daily care than I ever imagined possible for an eleven year old boy.
It’s been a really, really long year. One that culminated last week in not one, but two trips to the hospital.
As part of our outpatient care plan (no one thinks the best place for this child is a hospital room) we saw his regular doctor yesterday. He is really, really good and we are so grateful to have found him. He is wonderful with my son and wicked smart when it comes his treatment.
But as we talked through the different options for medications and therapies, I was that mom.
I didn’t intend to be. In fact, I thought I was past this type of questioning. I was wrong.
I was the mom asking, desperately, over and over again, when we would get back to normal.
Gently, kindly, the doctor looked at me and said, “Shawna, you have been chasing normal for a year now. You and your son have a new normal now.”
As something inside me wanted to scream, I brushed away tears and said, “I know. You’re right.”
Accepting A New Normal
The truth is, I love my boy and try to parent him exactly as he is, where he is. Even in the throes of meltdowns, mania and psychosis, when he doesn’t even resemble my sweet child, I try to show him that he is loved unconditionally, even in… especially in the darkest times.
But when it comes to our treatment plan, our therapies and our overall approach to his daily life, the doctor was 100% right. I have been chasing normal for a year now.
This is strange to me, because I don’t even know what normal is anymore.
But that doesn’t stop me from aching for it.
This morning, I find myself simply trying to figure out what our life actually looks like, instead of what I think it should look like. I am looking up sensory activities for winter and canceling our holiday travel plans.
While it may sound sad, I am finding it to be exactly the balm that my mother’s heart needs.
Instead of scrambling to fix it all, there is something merciful about sitting right smack dab in the middle of the mess and saying, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
I am learning over and over again, that this life is not as much about performance and outcomes, as it is about choosing good and taking the very next step.
And so today, I do exactly that.
I take the next step into our new normal.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.