The Process Of Knowing and Accepting

Upon giving birth to your children, there are certain thoughts that you can't easily wrap your mind around. Dizzying thoughts, frightening thoughts. And you push them away. And you don't dare speak of them. For you fear that the very utterance of such things will actually bring them on.

When you hold your children in your arms for the first time, you finally get to look at actual features. Rather than the ones that you painted on a tiny face in your mind - features of your own design. The canvas that allows you to paint on it the perfect, button nose. The biggest, widest, inquisitive eyes. Perfect baby curls. Baby pink skin. You never stop to think about the underneath.

The Code. The perfect fusion of separate genetics that have to come together.
That's a painting class you skip over when painting features on your baby.
Making sure you add perfect strokes and fusions of color to certain pieces of code.
You can't. You contribute what you have and hope it's for the best.

So you hold your baby and look at a face that is brand new to you, but you can't even imagine a time that it didn't exist in your life. Despite the difference it clearly has in regards to what you had imagined.
It is all foreign.
And familiar.

For nine long months you imagine what this new life will bring. At the very least, endless possibilities.
And in your mind's eye they all lead to extraordinary things.
All that you can think about and do is how to harness all of this potential. This potential for greatness that we are all born with, but is exceptional when you hold it in your own hands.

Tabula Rasa.
Their slate is perfectly clean.
You can read to them in languages - any language - and their little minds are wired to accept it all.
You can sing and talk and they know your voice.
A voice they've heard in their water cocoon.
You can touch and be touched.
And these sensations trigger chemical and physical reactions that begin the bonding process.
And they are an integral part of the development of their greatness.

They are so perfect in that no harm has touched them.
The world is a sensory smorgasboard.
And you are just trying to provide every perfect opportunity and experience of all the things the world has to offer.
And they are so perfectly willing to take it all in.

As a parent, you dream for them all of the dreams that have slipped through your fingers.
You want them to know no bounds to the wonders that they can accomplish.

Time moves on for a bit and there is a shift.
A brick in your gut.
You are beginning to slowly become aware of one of the thoughts that you initially couldn't wrap your mind around. And again, you don't speak it for fear that it will surely come true.

You feel in your gut that, at 8 months old, your child is just
You can't put your finger on it. And when you say it in your head, it sounds quite silly.
And in fact, you feel like such a fool, that you keep the insanely green, new mom thought to yourself.

You keep that thought to yourself for 2 years.

However, it begins to creep its way to that space in your brow where the lines begin to deeply crease. When the pediatrician offers you her wisdom in the form of:
Don't be surprised if....
Don't worry though. There's still time. He's still very young. He could just be immature.

You shake this off, like any good mom would do.
You leave the office and shove that statement to the bottom of the diaper bag. Right next to the bag of smashed crackers and Zweiback toast that has probably been there since he was teething at 5 months old.


A year or so later, the summer is winding down.
The sun is beginning to set a little earlier. The air has a new crispness to it. Change is making its way through the air, down to the plants in the gardens, the water, even the grass. And you have no idea that it is extending to you, too.

You hold a camera up to your face.
You want to capture a moment in time. A moment you'd love to hold on to for a rainy day.
Your finger presses down and you can't begin to imagine the striking change you've just captured. You have no way of knowing yet. And you won't see the picture for a few days.

In hurried anticipation, you tear open the envelope. You pull out the photos.
And in that instant there can be no more denying.
The little boy in the photos is a shell of the boy you know and love.
For all of the life you know he possesses, there isn't a sign of it in his eyes.
They are vacant.
A dead brown.

In a rush you tally changes up in your mind:
-the absence of good eye contact
-the aversion to certain textures of foods
-the explosive tantrums
-the anxiety
-the sensitivity and overreaction to sunlight
-the impulsivity
-the hyperactivity
All of these things, singled out, are not really that big of a deal.
But when you weigh them together, you are deeply entrenched in the knowing.

You yell at yourself for not listening to your gut.
And then rational, reasonable thoughts whisper in your ear that it probably wouldn't have made much difference.

You have conversations with yourself about how it could be so much worse.
And you know that.
But the reality you face now is a bit more muddled and foggy when placed next to its predecessor.
The reality you had before.
Back then.
Despite all your knowing the good things, the positive things, the it-could-be-so-much-worse things, you know that you have a road to travel that will be different from the easy, meandering country road you had envisioned.
You know that it will, hopefully, get better.
But for now, you have to prepare yourself for a war-torn road.

Not to mention
frequent run-ins with friendly fire.

18 ripples in the pond:

deb said...

I remember feeling like that with Katie. When our children are born, so is a dream child but that dream child lives only in our minds. Slowly, gradually, as our children grow that dream child becomes real, not perfect, not travelling the path we thought they would. The dream child gives way to a real person.

When things are different though, we have to give up our dream child suddenly. It's painful, we grieve, and then slowly a new dream child grows in our minds. A dream child that is more like our own, real child.

But it's hard. We're not prepared for this loss so early or so suddenly or so completely. It takes your breath away and makes your chest ache and you can feel the prickle of tears in the back of your eyes.

But it does get better and it helps to know that even for a "normal child", our dream child has to die, to be replaced by new dreams.

What caught me about your description of your son, is that he sounded like me when I was younger. The problems with food textures, oversensitivity, temper tantrums, impulsivity, hyperactivity. So, what's your sons diagnosis?

And things will get better. Or at least they won't hurt so much.

Tabba said...

right now, deb his diagnosis is sensory integration disorder and ADHD....but I feel that in the distant, near future it will change to Asperger's. But we'll see.
But that's what my gut says.

Oh, and exactly. That's exactly it.
You put it into words perfectly.

Mary-LUE said...

Wow, Tabba. Your description of this journey is amazing. I'm a little speechless (Just a little, I'm never truly speechless. One of my childhood nicknames was Motor Mouth. 'Nuff said.)

Anyway, this was just so powerful, not just because it was so beautifully written, but because of knowing it is your experience and the enormity of it all.

Thank you for sharing.

Her Grace said...

"As a parent, you dream for them all of the dreams that have slipped through your fingers." So true, so very true. And as Deb pointed out, even kids without a diagnosis will live their own lives and some of those dreams will never come to light because they weren't their dreams to begin with.

Your son has a world of resources out there at his disposal and he'll find his own dreams too.

My thoughts are with you, and if you ever need help wading through the educational side of things, fee free to email me.

KC said...

Your love and insight will empower him, whatever the diagnosis.

Jenn said...

I have goosebumps and tears and a pit in my stomach.

What a beautiful post. Your words moved me beyond belief.

I'm not sure what to say; I don't think there is anything I can offer.

But I'm reading and thinking of you.

carrie said...

Oh Tabba, such beautiful words.

I agree with Deb, when she said that at some point we have to give up our imagined child and get to know the real one we have.

I hope that knowing that most parents feel this way (whether they have a "diagnosed" child or not) is some comfort to you.

Thank you for sharing this.


Tabba said...

Yes, what Deb says is so, so true. And I have long made my peace with things, thank goodness.

Connor has come such a looong way.
And so have Rav & I.

But I wanted to do a series, starting with this one in regards to being diagnosed, entering the Spec. Ed. realm. What that means to kids and parents/families and friends.

I thank you all for your comments. Connor is such a really cool kid. And this post really tackles the gut feeling that we moms have, how we should listen to it, and then the onset of symptoms.

Again, thank you all for your comments. You are all so lovely.

thailandchani said...

This is a great post.. and I really like the illustrations you've chosen.

Being different is also a blessing.. and I believe you will be able to teach Connor that. Aspergers types are often rather cool people. They're smart. They're creative. You know? :)



PinkPowerSuit.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Lacey~ said...

What a very powerful blog Tabba! Just like Mary-Lue said...it leaves you sort of speechless! Things will get better and these things will only make him into the unique little person that will continue to amaze you in great ways everyday!

jen said...

oh tab. this is staggering in it's beauty. i think this is one of the best pieces i have ever read.

oh, tab. my heart hurts for your heart, and it rejoices too. for your son and for the mother you are.

PinkPowerSuit.com said...

Okay, I just finished reading all of this (didn't have quiet earlier to concentrate) and it IS beautiful.

I feel your pain. And I wrote about mine. Different style. ;-)

Seattle Mamacita said...

there are so many thoughtful and beautiful lines in this piece tabba and i hope writing about it brings you comfort and new understanding..

Magpie said...

Beautiful post. What a wonderful mother he has.

liv said...

tab, honestly, if I weren't already so weepy with feeling ill, I would be crying. Crying because it brings up that choked feeling of wanting to scream but I can't. I don't want to tap into these feelings right now. I need to be present. This jolted me in a way that I won't soon forget.

Joker The Lurcher said...

this is lovely.

from what you wrote about your little fellow i would say aspergers too.

i would also say "congratulations!"

or as joker would say "another beefburger person! yay!"

Christine said...

this was so beautifully written. really this was amazing.

the love you have for that little guy--powerful.