This Side Of Heaven (when we are forced to watch our children suffer)
I overheard my youngest son talking to his friend last week.
“My biggest dream, besides being able to feel better and not have all my medical issues because that’s really my biggest dream – my second biggest dream is that the owl from Hogwarts got lost on my birthday and it’s still going to show up and I am going to find out that I am a muggle born wizard.”
(He does love him some Harry Potter.)
His friend nodded then said, “I don’t think you’re a wizard. Sorry.”
My son, smirking, replied, “Shut up muggle. You don’t know.”
I smiled. Of course, I did. It was darling.
But inside, my heart felt like it was breaking wide open.
He’s eleven years old.
His biggest dream is to feel better.
It’s my biggest dream too.
At eleven years old, my son struggles every single day to participate in the most basic aspects of his life.
His learning differences make school a challenge.
His anxiety makes eating, sleeping and toileting a challenge.
His medicines make balance, digestion, and lucidity a challenge.
His speech delays make communication a challenge.
All of these together?
It’s too much sometimes.
For him, to be sure.
And for me.
When We Are Forced To Watch Our Children Suffer
He has good days. Days when we head to the ocean and play in the waves. Days when we hike to the waterfall and pick up pretty rocks along the way.
He has bad days. Days when he is doubled over in stomach pain and unable to leave the restroom. Days when the mania kicks in and he loses control of his mind, his bladder, and his sense of self.
The good and the bad.
The beauty and the mess.
The great joy and the searing pain.
Such is life, I’m constantly reminded.
This Side Of Heaven
I am learning – my son is teaching me – that this side of heaven, we can only do what we can do.
Then we have to let go.
And oddly enough, it is in the letting go, in the surrender, that we find the very grace we’ve been looking for.
We find hope.
“Hope inspires the good to reveal itself.” – Emily Dickinson
This side of heaven we cry, we love, we hate, we stumble, we rejoice, and we pray.
Some things are simply not ours to fix, to control, and to alleviate.
Some things require nothing of us, other than presence, staying close, and breathing through the heartbreak.
Some things require everything of us, including presence, staying close, and breathing through the heartbreak.
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.