It’s the first day of summer.
A new season.
A new chapter here.
And there’s really no gentle way to segue into this one.
When my daughter Elise was much younger she was diagnosed with a number of conditions, and because (as some people would say) I am a terrible mother, I didn’t define her, or let our lives be defined, by a series of acronyms that place her in a group of people I wasn’t ready to accept that she was a part of.
I knew she was different.
I always accepted that she had ADHD and a developmental delay – no one can deny that she is much more immature than her peers in just about every conceivable way – but because PDD-NOS was such muddy, gray area, arguable diagnosis at the time, I didn’t put much stock into it. It wasn’t her “primary” diagnosis anyway, the ADHD was.
So I pushed the thought of autism out of my mind. Because I’m a terrible mother, remember?
I went on raising my weird little girl who was so sweet and loving but could turn on a dime and start raging. My girl, who can make a friend with any adult she meets, taking “stranger danger” to a whole new level, but can’t make a single lasting connection with any kids her age. My girl who remembers details from a regular day at home five years ago and can’t remember what she ate for breakfast three hours ago, or what I told her we were doing tomorrow two hours ago. My sweet girl, who can read Harry Potter out loud to me with voices for each character, who can do a 100 piece puzzle in an hour, but can’t tell time on an analog clock or add up small change to a dollar.
My mystery girl, the mystery that is Elise.
We started seeing her new counselor, Liza (name changed cause I like her) about a month ago, and frankly, Liza has woken me up.
Elise isn’t a mystery anymore.
Liza revealed her to me.
By which I mean, Liza whacked me off my orbit with her truth bombs, and I literally have not been the same.
It’s a new season, a new chapter in our lives.
No more bullshit.
No more hiding, no more refusing to face reality, no more putting off planning for the future, no more I’ll deal with this another day.
The truth is, I’ve been “dealing” with this for a long time, but silently, and alone.
I’ve been NOT talking about this because I am so terrified of the judgment of other people on my parenting. I’ve been too afraid to reach out and ask for help or even emotional support from my friends and family because I’ve convinced myself that I cannot get support without an uninvited dose of unsolicited advice.
But you know what?
No more bullshit.
My daughter is autistic, has ADHD, and IQ of 73.
When I sought out a new counselor to help both Elise and I find new ways to deal with her “behavior issues” I was given a particular solution:
Change your expectations.
Elise isn’t going to be like other kids her age.
You’ll both be a lot happier with each other if you can face the fact that this is the way things are going to be for the rest of your lives.
You need to pick your battles and pick a whole lot less of them.
You’re going to go through a grieving period, if you haven’t already, for the daughter you wished you were going to have.
Just let that idea of her go.
Okay, so, I did.
Now we’re onto a new chapter.
Now we have new expectations and ideas of each other.
Elise hasn’t changed. She’s still the same weird little girl I’ve always known and loved.
Really. No bullshit.
I can feel it.
Life is going to be a whole lot different now.