I like doing things my way. I like to run a tight ship, keep everything under control and manage any situation that arises. My attitude is if you want something done right then let me do it. I understand that people are different and there are more ways than one to run a life but honestly, my way is the best way. I have it all figured out.
Good plan except that it didn't work. Sure there were moments of success but then something would happen and my plan would get tested. Still I battled through until I could get life back to neat and normal. By myself. Because when you know exactly what you're doing, you don't require any help. Then my tight ship sprung a leak.
3 1/2 years ago when Zach was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, I found myself in need of help, lots of help. The pediatrician, the psychologist, the therapists, the teachers, the diagnosticians all offered their type of help. And that was great and still is because Zach has made enormous gains with their help. But the help I came to depend on most came from other mothers.
Mothers whose children shared my son's diagnosis. Mothers whose children weren't like Zach but had another diagnosis. Mothers who had been where I was and were not only willing but happy to share their experiences. Other mothers. I hung on their every word. I listened as they told me what worked and what didn't. I rejoiced when their children made gains. It gave me hope that Zach could one day be where their children are now.
A couple of days ago I spent the afternoon in the home of another mother. Her name had been passed along to me by a teacher who raved about this mother's knowledge and the difference she's making in her child's life. Her daughter has the same diagnosis as Zach but is a few years older. I'll point out that although their diagnosis is the same, there are differences in behaviors and characteristics. The same diagnosis will not look the same in each child and a child's personality always plays an important role in behavior. Having said that, the other mother and I found many things in common for both our children.
We spent hours sharing the various therapies and treatments we've tried. What worked and what didn't, what we regret and what we still might do. So much in common, an instant connection. She understands. Her honesty in admitting mistakes she'd made gave me a chance to learn from someone else's experiences. Anytime she began a sentence with "If I had to do it again.." I took notes. I also wrote down the computer programs she uses, the books she's read and the websites she checks. When the other mother shared specific things to watch for at school, I wrote those down too.
Before our time ended we had connected in many ways. We wrapped up the visit discussing how blessed we are to have children who are different. What if they weren't ours? What if we had missed the chance to see life through unusual eyes? What about the parents who were expecting a typical story, like we all do, and got a mystery instead? Will they spend a lifetime trying to re-write it?
I thanked the other mother profusely for her time and we agreed that we must have lunch soon, just for fun. As I drove toward school I went over all that I had learned and my head was swimming with ideas and information. But mostly I was overwhelmed with inspiration. That mother is incredible. Her attitude, her knowledge, her heart. Her willingness to share. I am encouraged.
I'm sad to think what I would miss if I were trying to do this alone. I am grateful for the other mothers.