They say the days are long and the years are short....well, somewhere along the way in this thing called "life", Vince grew up and is now in middle school. 6th Grade. He's just about as tall as me, which really doesn't says much as I have been this same height since I was about 13 years old. Regardless, I woke up one day to have my once smiley baby looking me in the eyes, rather than looking up at me, like in this picture.
Today for the first time in over 8 years, when I left Vincent's school, I didn't walk out sobbing. Whether I was there for a parent teacher meeting or just a lunch visit, normally, I leave in tears, heart aching, feeling lost and defeated wondering what I could have done or should do differently. I am always filled with raw emotion as I watch all the other students from afar, secretly admiring their ability to blend seamlessly while I glance at Vince's quasi-awkward school mannerisms hoping the other students see beyond each idiosyncrasy as I do.....AND, I hold back my tears....squeezing my cheeks, to prevent my eyes from swelling and tears from falling. It always feels as if I have been punched in the gut - a punch that buckles your knees, and makes you see stars with the kind of pain that forces you to cry with no sound, and takes about 5 minutes for you to catch your breath.
Yeah. That pain.
For many years, I let that pain paralyze me, make me angry and even resentful. I compared my life against what and how I thought things should be wishing and praying that my circumstances would change. Misery, at times, was my BFF and fear kept me captive. I wanted to believe it was all a bad dream. I let loneliness keep me company many nights and fighting. All.The.Time. exhausted me. The path of least resistance was so shiny and comforting and often my default choice. Don't get me wrong, many days I woke up with pep in my step, and I would pound the pavement talking to parents, professionals and educators. Gathering tons of references, as well as reading, researching and making doctor appointments with anyone and everyone available. During initial intake calls, it was easy to give the high-level story about Vincent. I had it memorized and could rattle it off on auto-pilot. The rub was when I had to peel back the layers and explain. That's when the pain would resurface; when it became too personal.
Then, at some point, I realized that there was power in my pain and channeled that pain into a purpose. I quit being hard on myself and embraced the notion that I am a bad-ass mama on a mission. I adjusted my perspective (and ego) along with my energy. And when the pain resurfaces, I no longer let it paralyze me; I allow it to fuel my purpose, which is to ensure that all doors open giving Vince every chance and opportunity placed at his feet.
Today, during my school visit things were different. I saw genuine happiness in Vincent's eyes and comfort with his peers.
Today, I saw him coming into his own.
Today, I decided it wasn't about my feelings, it was about Vincent's quality of life and happiness.
The expression goes, "When you can tell your story and it no longer makes you cry, you have healed".
Today, I didn’t cry. Today, looked up at the sky thankfully and smiled.