How to Advocate: For the Child Who Needs You

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READING TIME: 3 min.

First, you notice “the issue.” It isn’t a big deal, but you’re his mother so you notice. You don’t worry, because all children are different, but you make a mental note to keep an eye on it.

Next, you research. That quality you noticed is becoming more pronounced. You give him anything and everything you can. You discard all the articles you find that are alarmist. You book appointments with specialists to evaluate. You read everything you find in front of your buzzing computer screen at night, while he sleeps. You nonchalantly mention the issue to your doctor. He says your kid is awesome. Then he gives you the name of someone you could talk to if you’re worried. God bless that Pediatrician, seriously.

For a time, it seems it’s getting better. The appointments help, and his progress reassures you. But deep in your gut it gnaws on you that he’s coping and not confronting his challenges. You disagree with the opinions the specialists are giving you. You get stuck. You drink Sauvignon Blanc with your closest friends and ask them what they think you should do (the friends who will encourage and not “have-you-tried?” you). They tell you you’re a good mom for doing your best for him, and you remember why you love these friends. You wonder if people ever die of emotional exhaustion. 

You make a brave choice. You pull him out, or you put him in. Maybe both. You agonize over the effects of your brave choice, you cringe as others’ faces reveal their surprise, or judgment, or curiosity. But with allegiance to your child, you push through. You know your brave choice will make things better.

He likes your brave choice. He adjusts. He makes friends. You continue to work with him. You try to work without pushing or expectation. You tell him one million times you love him for him. You don’t love his performance.  You. Love. Him.

The brave choice isn’t all it was cracked up to be. You agonize again. More comments/more observations/from more people, that aren’t helpful. Your husband wants to fix it. You buy some boots, which doesn’t help. But they do look pretty cute with skinny jeans, so there’s that.

You cry hot tears sitting in your SUV in the parking lot of Target. You keep your sunglasses on and your face is a statue and you don’t make a sound, so he doesn’t know. He sits two rows behind you… asking about snow leopards.

You pray a million prayers that he will trust that it’s not him that’s frustrating you. That someday he will understand you’re frustrated by this whole system that is built for everyone but him, and he will know your quiet tears are a demonstration of love for him, a frustration on his behalf, toward a system that feels impossible to buck. You pray that this journey weaves in him some faith, some courage of his own.

You cope, you research, you advocate:

you make a new brave choice.

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