It’s funny how I’ve always given that advice to friends but rarely take it myself. I tell them – when they are facing an uphill battle, an unending stack of “to-do’s” – to look at all they have accomplished instead of the long road ahead of them.
So I will do that today…
Sean is constantly talking about what an amazing year he has had. And it has been. It really has.
He graduated from 8th grade… started high school. He’s navigating the halls by himself. He’s doing well in his classes.
Sean even went up a rank in Boy Scouts. He’s now at Life…just one step from Eagle.
Who would’ve thought?
I wrote in an article earlier this year that I never mourned the loss of Sean’s potential when he was diagnosed. I went into it with the attitude of “Let’s see what he can do and go from there.”
And look how far he’s come….
A scene from a zillion years ago keeps flashing through my mind though. It’s so real it’s as if I’m walking those steps now.
Sean was in second grade and still at our local school. I would pull up in front, park my car and walk Sean and Carissa over the paved playground lot and send them in through the front doors.
The feeling that I was feeding my son to the sharks always left me unsettled on those days.
What was going to happen? Because surely something would…
When was the meltdown going to occur? When was the outburst, the desperate attempt to escape school going to make a good day into a bad day? How bad was the bad day going to get?
It was always going to be something.
And I hated those mornings. The joy of walking my kids to school became a test of sanity that I wasn’t sure I could take.
Was I doing the right thing by handing him over every morning? Clearly, he did not belong in the school but where did he belong? Who could help him?
And then 3:30 would come around and I would wait at the back doors. They always let Sean out a few minutes early because he would run out and they felt he was a danger to the other kids.
I remember one of my girlfriends standing with me and saying something about the look on my face.
It was always stressed…always anticipating bad news.
With one look from the teacher or the school psychologist or the social worker through the window on the door, I knew I had to steel myself for what was to come.
What happened now?
Did he kick someone? Bite someone? Who did he push trying to get away from whatever it was that was so terrifying to my child?
What did they do to him now?
While years have passed and our lives have been filled with more steps forward than backward, those moments and feelings remain fresh in our minds.
Will they ever fade?
To hear Sean talk about his early years…about those times… you hear the pain in his voice and know that he is re-living every emotion…as vivid and painful as they were at that second in time.
It’s difficult to listen to, let alone walk those steps with him.
But then the channel in his head switches and Sean talks about how great 2012 was.
Yes, Sean. Yes, it was.
You graduated from 8th grade and we couldn’t have been prouder.
You started high school.
We’ve had our bumps and bruises. We’ve had our calls to the crisis team as you escape to the bathroom to have your meltdown.
We’ve had our moments of wondering what to do next or if what we are doing is right or wrong.
But you’ve done good Sean.
You have persevered and worked so hard.
You’ve lost your pencil case twice – in the same day – and yet somehow got through to the dismissal bell.
You’ve survived bullying and the madness in the hallways.
And you’ve come home with a coat we’re not sure is yours…oh, and a pair of socks.
But you’ve done good Sean.
You have everything to be proud of as you look back at the year.
And so do we….
While the road ahead will always look far scarier than it actually is, the road we have conquered, that hard, bumpy, sometimes impossible road, is behind us.
We can always remember that road. We will remember that road.
But look how far you’ve come Sean….
Just look how far you’ve come!