Warning: this post consists of raw honesty. Those who prefer to think of their fellow bloggers as living in a bubble of perpetual “togetherness” and peace should direct their attention elsewhere.
Let’s face it. It isn’t easy blogging the truth about ourselves and our lives. We would rather give pleasant or matter-of-fact summaries of our day-to-day or proudly display special events through pictures or short notes. Some of us (bloggers that is) don’t even allow others that deep into their personal lives, hiding behind giveaways, reviews or the occasional prophetic proverb.
I have followed many blogs for quite some time now and can only think of FIVE that have allowed its readers to glance into the souls of their authors. It is these women that I feel most connected to; these blogs that I actually seek out daily. These women, these families, whom I’ve never met. I rejoice with them. My heart breaks with them. I pray for them. Some of them return my online friendship, to others I suppose I am just a number on their Google Friend List who occasionally leaves a comment. It doesn’t matter. I cherish these ladies because they have the courage to tell it how it is. No sugar-coating. No false impressions. Just reality. Real moms telling the real stories of their real families.
That takes guts, even in the virtual world. As you know, we can be whomever we wish to be in the blogging world. We can hide our dysfunction, our heartaches, behind a virtual world that we can create and control. No one ever has to know. We can be who we want to be.
Well, I have always been honest in this blog, but I have not always been very open. Just like in my real life, I have tried to put on a strong front and be a super woman. I am here to say, I throw down the gloves. I am simply too tired to fight anymore. What I love most about the “real blogs” I mentioned above, is how I can relate to their stories. Even when we have nothing in common, and I may not have experienced what they have, I still find myself able to relate. After all, we all know joy. We all know heartache, frustration, anger, silliness, peace, thankfulness. These are real emotions felt by us all at some point. So, while I’ve been warned in the past that I reveal too much in my blog (didn’t think I did, but oh well), I am just going to start telling it how it is. All of it. Maybe, just maybe, someone will be able to relate and be encouraged, strengthened or helped just as I am by my fellow bloggers. Now that I’ve written a ridiculously long introduction, let me get to the “real” topic of this post:
All this talk about reality is the result of my being slapped square in the face by it earlier today. If you keep up with us at all, you know that I home school a special needs daughter. I’ve been very open about referring to her in that way, yet I’ve always felt a little hesitant. Almost like it isn’t true because it is difficult to absorb the fact. I find myself reporting updates on her progress, activities, etc like I am reporting on a stranger.
The truth is, I feel very conflicted most days. You see, Beauty shows no physical manifestations of her diagnosis. She is physically perfect, requiring no assistance of any kind and in all ways looks like a “normal” child. Sometimes I feel guilty even referring to her as special needs, not because I don’t believe in labels, which I don’t, but because my mind cannot get wrapped around the idea. She is not handicapped, severely autistic, down syndrome, nor does she suffer some physical disease or ailment. These are truly special children and their families need our prayers and support. I am thankful that our situation is not worse than it is.
It is for these reasons that I often (daily even) “forget” that Beauty is not your typical-intelligence child. Thus, I find myself becoming frustrated when I must once again teach preschool concepts to my seven-year-old, subjects we’ve been covering for three years now, or having to repeat the same nonsensical response to the same nonsensical questions day in and day out. I “forget” because she is so bright when it comes to many things. She loves anything mechanical and enjoys taking things apart and helping her dad fix stuff. She is also competent on the computer. So, I forget.
But then we sit down to another reading or math lesson and are once again face-to-face with the challenges. I wonder to myself, “How can a kid who can identify a drive shaft sitting on the floor of a junk yard not remember that 7 is seven, not eleven? How can she not remember that 13 is thirteen, not three, or that 11 is eleven and not the word all?” In the midst of her being evaluated by the school, I of course torture myself with the thoughts that they are going to think I have not taught her a thing. Sunday night I nearly hyperventilated at the thought.
I expressed my concerns to my mother over the phone Monday night. She asked why I was speaking to her in such a frustrated manner. I bawled, “Who else am I going to talk to? She is seven years old and cannot read, cannot count to twenty cannot spell even what she can read. It overwhelms me”. My mother’s reply was, “And maybe she never will. Maybe she will have to struggle her entire life, or maybe it is just going to take her longer.” I said, “If someone could just tell me I am expecting too much, then I can relax.” She said, “I am telling you”.
That’s when I was doused, drowned, in reality. Of course. A year ago my 6 year old was diagnosed with mental retardation by the most respected child development center in the state. She tested as low as levels of a 2 year old. So her cognitive development is at best four-years old right now.
I don’t really know why I have had such a difficult time getting my mind wrapped around this fact. I know it intellectually. I can recite it all to anyone who asks. Yet, I forget. I cannot forget anymore, for fear that I am creating a stressful learning atmosphere which of course will only do more harm than good. In my desire to “do it right”, I lost sight of my calling.
It is time to relax and just let things come at their own pace. I need to stop being so hard on myself.