Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Unlearning

"No! Only different in your own mind.  You must unlearn what you have learned."  ~Yoda, "The Empire Strikes Back"

Crossing off each day until I could leave for college, I knew I was going to make something of myself. There was a definite drive... a dream... that compelled me.  There was something out there for me to do, and I had found it.  There would be no stopping, not even for a family.  Nope, not me.  I'd head on through college, marry, and keep right on working.  Juggling kids and a marriage and work couldn't be that hard when you love your job that much.  

I can honestly say there was no way I could entertain even the thought that band would not... or might not... be life.  

For a long time, this was easily the truth.  Then there was the day, when I hadn't yet been married for a year, that I got in my friend's car to go from campus to campus as we always did, and she told me something through tears that started a change.  

Now I must add that she has three boys and is a great band director and a great mom.  She and her husband have given the world three wonderful additions to society, and she works hard and does a fabulous job.  But that day, God used her words to start a paradigm shift.  

What I live every day today is not what I had in mind then.  It's not even remotely close to what I would have called normal, or what I would call it if pushed into a corner to do so even now.  There are times when what I do every day, in one fleeting moment, meets who I was then.  Sometimes I even wonder if I'll ever go back there.  Then I look in these eyes... or have a moment like this... and I know.  

I'll never go back.  I'll never be the same.  

See, what you can't see in that picture is years of speech, occupational therapy, ABA, and good old fashioned hard work and prayer.  What you can't see is the hours around the table of ARD meetings and other types of meetings with experts picking apart every aspect of my child's behavior and every little way we deal with it.  

You can see that he's pretending something.  But what you can't see is our devastation at being told that he doesn't pretend.  What you can't feel is the heartbreak of listening, wanting to defend him, but watching him obsessively banging a cabinet door and knowing deep down that they're right. 

What you can't hear is the beautiful sound of his happy speaking voice saying, "Baby rides the pony!" and "Ride like the wind, pony!"  What you can't see is the frustration of limited communication.  The pain of watching your precious child injure himself because he can't handle the situation, whatever it is.  

What you can't see is the trouble he has transitioning from one activity to the other.  

What you can't see... and something I couldn't begin to put into words... is the amount of stuff we've turned upside down to help him.  

No, to find him.  

What you also can't see is that, in our search for Ryan, we found that we aren't who we thought.  

We found, in a sense, us.  

We found, in those huge, blue eyes, our need for mercy, grace, hope, and love. 

Just this morning I was thinking about how weird it feels to call myself a special needs mom.  It still feels strange.  And there are times when what we do, how we handle things, and why we do the things we do and leave out the things we leave out seems so... well, it seems different.  Abnormal.  

But it's not.  Not for us!

It's different looking from the outside in.  But from our perspective, we have learned through what feels like a meat grinder of the heart and mind first that we had to unlearn.  Then we had to learn, still struggling all the while to remember that we have to first unlearn.  And there are still times just about every day when the different seems so prevalent, and I just want a minute of normal... but eventually, I remember the deliciousness of living and enjoying and finding peace in where you are and who God made you to be.  

And it's in those moments that I thank the Lord for the unlearning, hard though it is.  

Thanks be to God for his plan and providence. 

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