“I think you might be losing sight of the fact that he has an autism spectrum diagnosis. That’s not going away. We need to talk about adjusting your expectations.”
This is what the behavioral pediatrician told me in our appointment last week.
She said it in response to me telling her all the things we were “working on” and all the things that were not going well and all the meltdowns that we wish weren’t part of our life.
Last week was not a great one.
It was one of two things that did me in…
2. My Expectations
Last week, I started off feeling totally overwhelmed by what I perceived as the lack of progress in our life. My son’s sensory system was a jangled mess and his younger brother not reading the word “the” (again) was enough to make me want to go back to bed.
Add to that a major meltdown that erupted in actual punches being thrown at his brother in the post office, plus the lady with way too much make-up that made a very rude comment, and I was certain I had completely failed us – again. I went to bed praying for direction and order and peace. The next day, we had a follow-up appointment with his developmental pediatrician.
God has perfect timing.
When the doctor asked my son to leave the room, I thought she was going to tell me all the things we needed to do next. Instead, she basically said my expectations don’t match my reality.
My son has Autism.
He has severe sensory processing issues that aggravate an already pervasive anxiety disorder.
He will have meltdowns. Period.
He will perseverate on topics for days and weeks at a time. Period.
He will struggle with his body and balance and social function. Period.
Apparently, I am still struggling to fully accept all of this. Apparently, I still need the doctor to confirm a diagnosis that I can so plainly see right in front of me.
Her doing so was an absolute blessing. I walked out of her office in tears…tears of relief and gratitude.
I spent the rest of the week focused on how best to help and love and accept my son, right where he is.
Actually, I spent the rest of the week focused on how best to help and love and accept my life, right where it is.
Expectations, ones that do not match my reality, are suffocating.
Please don’t misunderstand, we should work to make progress. And I was reminded that we have made progress, a ton.
This Is What Happens When My Expectations Of Motherhood Don’t Match My Reality
When I first walked into that office, over a year ago, I was terrified. My son hadn’t slept in weeks.
He was harming himself, and me, every single day.
I had forgotten how far we’ve come.
When My Expectations Don’t Match My Reality, we all lose.
Expectations are like that – I get so focused on how I think things should be, that I lose sight of how wonderful they already are.
One year later, he sleeps all the way through the night (well, most of the time). We can actually leave the house and not worry about someone getting hurt in the car. He hasn’t hurt himself in months. He hasn’t hurt me in even longer.
If you had told me a year ago that our current reality is what I could look forward to, I would’ve rejoiced and cried tears of joy.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
Our reality is worthy of excellence and praise. So much is lovely and commendable and true. Rather than unrealistic, defeating expectations, I will think about these things.
Two beautiful sons.
A wonderful husband.
Diagnoses that help us know what to do to help.
Therapists that love my boys and genuinely want to invest in them.
A loaf of fresh-baked bread that my little guy helped make.
Spelling the word “the” correctly in today’s school work.
A wonderful book.
The sound of birds chirping in the morning.
My son telling me he loves me, without any prompting.
Friends that text me a serious, deep thought and a joke with emojjiis all in the same sentence.
A gentle, loving reminder that this is the life, the only life, I have been given.
Prayers whispered, “May I live it well.”
This post originally appeared on Not The Former Things in 2014.