Once upon a time… yup I am starting a blog, this blog, with a fairy tale start. Because, once upon a time I believed that life would always have answers and solutions. It was hard for me to accept, there is no easy answers or solutions when it comes to autism. I just didn’t know that’s what I was dealing with at the time.
The first experiences I had with being overwhelmed was the fight with the doctors to get Emelie a diagnosis and a school to want answers from me that left me frustrated and wanting to understand and have all the solutions all the time. I wanted Em to have this “fairy tale” life that I wasn’t going to be able to provide her.
She was at a parochial school that wasn’t able to “handle” her “issues” and had asked us to remove her. It was the first time my heart shattered and the reality of how much “care” she needed in school became clear. I remember the frustration and anger. The thoughts of how could they turn away my girl. My. Precious. Girl.
I wrote a scathing letter to them calling them accountable in regards to her faith. We hold our faith very seriously. I pointed out things left and right and then I cried. I had no answers. I had no solutions. And I enrolled her in public school. As I enrolled her I had her diagnosis paperwork in my hands and sat down with the director of student services before she set foot in the school.
Believe me. As much as this man who sat behind his desk in his big chair tried to comfort me, I was scared for her. She was going to go to a new school with new people where her brother wasn’t down the hall. There were no safety nets. He took a copy of the forms and sent them to the principal of her new school.
And while we were successful in getting and writing IEPs for her and the support staff was amazing, I still felt discouraged. I still didn’t have answers or solutions. And it was bothering me. I watched my daughter struggle to read. She was frustrated by socialization unless it involved younger children. I watched her become overwhelmed and shut down. And I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t reach her.
Here I was trying to balance being the mom to a middle school boy that I didn’t want to feel “lost” in the crowd with no time with mom and a daughter who’s diagnosis didn’t fit and no answers in sight. I was feeling like a failure. Then one of Em’s support staff pulled me aside and told me, none of us are going to have the answers or solutions. BUT we are all here fighting for Emelie with you. She will get through this and so will we.
He then started to tell me things that made me smile but realize it’s going to be ok. Stuff like we all may get a little battered and bruised but we are still going to be alive and we started with phrases with Em like Step It Up and Buck Up Buttercup. She hated it when we said that and would make the funniest scrunched up “mad” face ever. But she usually pushed herself a little harder.
He made me realize that day, it was ok I didn’t have all the answers or solutions. What mattered in that moment was Emelie. That all the yesterdays and tomorrows aren’t going to matter if we can’t help her though today. And each day she gets through makes all those yesterday’s pains worth it and the tomorrows happen if given coping skills to use every day. For every day she uses a skill over and over and over again becomes a habit and we add to it.
I’d heard it before. Yet that day, it clicked. So I gave up on the “Once upon a time” and learned to live life with my children in the here and now. Fighting the battles for them one day at a time and know it’s alright to say I don’t know. I don’t have solutions. I don’t have answers. Yet, here I am here for you.
So remember to Buck Up Buttercup. We’ve got to Step It Up and Keep Moving Forward.