Looking back, I remember what it was like when my son was first diagnosed. Ten years later, this is what I want you to know about my son growing up.
I couldn’t sleep last night.
I tossed and turned, thinking about everything that’s is going on in our world, praying for my children, trying to calm my anxious heart.
Suddenly, a thought gripped me that caused me a moment of pure and complete panic.
My oldest son will be 18 in six months.
My son as a little baby.
Taking him to the park and letting him explore.
Holding his hand and walking him to the little preschool on the corner.
Our first day of homeschooling.
It was like a slideshow in my mind – the kind you put up on the screen at a graduation party with Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time of your Life) playing in the background.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go…
Then, more memories.
Self-harm and meltdowns. The destroyed room, with books torn and scattered and holes in the wall.
His limping and the pain before his autoimmune diagnosis. The doctors giving us diagnosis after diagnosis.
An entire childhood, the good and the bad, the joyful and the terrifying. We’ve almost lived it all.
What I Want You To Know About My Son Growing Up
Last week, I received a text from an administrator at his homeschool hybrid school. She’s known him since he was 13. She knows him well.
I share this text with you, not to brag or somehow do that weird internet thing where we only share the good stuff. I share it with you because ten years ago, in some of the very worst moments of my son’s young life, I wish someone could’ve told me it was going to be OK.
It’s the most difficult part of raising a child with behavioral issues, learning differences and special needs.
The worst part is rarely the here and now. It’s the constant worry about the future.
It’s playing it all out.
If he’s destructive at ten, what will it be like when he is twenty?
How is he ever going to get a job when he flat out refuses to do his work at twelve?
Will the world ever see him for the amazing person he is, or will it only see his differences?
If someone could’ve shown me this text back then, I would’ve sobbed with relief.
If you are in the middle years, not just in age, but in symptoms, behaviors and daily struggles, I want to whisper this in your ear.
There is hope for the future. I’ve seen it in my own home and in so many others. There is so much hope for what’s to come. Just hang in there.
Last night, I whispered it to myself.
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right…
Yes, he will be an adult soon. Yes, we will have to manage all that comes with it.
There will be plans for care and transportation, steps taken for what happens after high school and how to approach daily life as an adult.
I am certain there will be more sleepless nights and probably lots of paperwork.
I am also certain of this –
There will be hope.
For More Ideas, Encouragement, and Support:
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.