Monday, April 20, 2015

I will be his co-pilot

Last week I began designing an 8th grade recognition ad for Hunter’s school yearbook. I wanted to put a baby picture of him in it, so I began searching through tons of old photos. I found my favorite picture of this sweet boy at the age of 18 months with bright eyes and a glowing smile. Then, I saw the pictures of him at 3 and beyond, and the light in his eyes was gone. It was as if something had been stripped from him.  I tried hard to recall what our life was like back then, but I realized that my memories of Hunter as a toddler were few and far between.
From the time of Hunter’s diagnosis, I think my mind just went on auto-pilot. I was so overwhelmed with what I needed to do for my little boy, that there just wasn’t enough room for any clutter. Every day I would read more, speak with more ”experts”,  work for his rights at school, manage tantrums, and try desperately to hold it all together. I was scared and unsure of how to do the right things for my little boy. It just felt like a crazy balancing act, but we made it day by day and year by year.

Every year since Hunter’s diagnosis has been challenging in different ways, but his eighth grade year has by far been the toughest. There have been many days and weeks, when I just didn’t think I had it in me anymore. I felt like one more night of sitting through hours of homework might just kill me. The hormones mixed with his need for independence mixed with the overall challenges of Asperger’s have been more than overwhelming. Now that he is 6 weeks from graduating from 8th  grade, it is difficult for me to put into words the amount of struggles, hard work, tears and love that have gone into making sure he made it to this point.  I am just so very grateful to have made it.
Unfortunately, I look forward with an immense amount of apprehension. I thought by now he would understand the importance of school, but he just doesn’t. He may never get it. High school is going to be a whole new ballgame. I fear we could be heading towards our biggest struggle yet.
As he is entering a new stage of his life, I feel my role as his mother is changing. I once again feel the need to desperately hold it all together. I want so much to take away his struggles, but I am realizing that I can no longer do it all. He is going to have to take on some of this responsibility. He is going to have to figure it out for himself.  Once again, I feel scared and unsure of how to do the right thing. Only this time, it is for my 6’5”, not so little boy.
As I look back at how far we have come and look forward to the unknown, I hold one thing close to my heart. When I sat in the doctor’s office and he gave me Hunter’s diagnosis, my heart raced out of my chest with worry and concern and fear for the unknown. Now here I am years later with so many unanswered questions and aware that he has many struggles ahead, but this time, I enter this new phase with a little extra knowledge. I know that it has all worked out so far and it will again. Things are not going to be easy. Hunter is going to have some growing pains in the next several years; however, he will have me as his co-pilot.