When asked about the hardest thing I've dealt with regarding Vincent and the confusion of the last several months (years, really), my answer was fear.
At first, I actually said that there haven't been any difficult changes to deal with. Vince is still the same happy, affectionate child. He still loves sports and kitties and trampolines. He doesn't attend daycare or school, but honestly, that means he gets to spend more time with Mommy and Daddy who don't have to spend 45 minutes each way to pick him up or drop him off each day.
If anything, this has made things easier for us (no worries of him catching that stomach bug going around, being bullied, being put in the principal's office for over-stimulation).
However, upon further reflection, there has been a major uptick in fear. I can't deny that. It's been my driving force these last few months.
I was terrified that Vincent was going to be misdiagnosed and put into a program that would not seek to challenge and engage him. I was afraid he had fallen behind his peers with his social skills. I was ceaselessly worried we weren't doing enough as parents to get him to where he needed to be... that I was missing pieces of the puzzle or overlooking some obvious trait that others could so plainly see.
Above all, I was terrified that I was failing my son. I was failing as a mother, and that really did cause me some sleepless nights.
Each time someone asked about Vincent, I physically and mentally braced myself to defend him against the misunderstandings and suggestive conversations I knew were to come.
"Did you ask the doctor about Autism yet?"
"I read this article about Oppositional Defiance. I'd like to send it to you."
"My friend knows a lot about learning disabled students. She works with kids like Vincent all the time."
"I know you don't think he's got Autism, but did you look into Asperger's?"
"Wow, he sure is fidgety. He's probably just got ADD or something."
For the most part, I did appreciate their intentions. I just had to tune them out after a while. Behind each good-intention was an unspoken judgement: There is something wrong with Vincent.
Did they mean it that way? Of course not. But I'm his mother. I see him as perfect. I want everyone else to see him that way, too. It was killing me that others were starting to see him as a problem needing to be solved than as a beautiful little boy wanting to play Ninja Turtles.
And I felt that I, myself, was being judged as inferior. I was being deemed a parent incapable of "fixing" my son... of allowing him to spoil in some way.
Isn't that terrible? Each keystroke of this entry feels like I'm pulling tears higher and higher out of the well of my soul.
THAT was the hardest part in all of this. Feeling like a failure. Feeling like others were judging my son... judging me. Feeling like they were judging correctly and feeling absolutely worthless for being unable to change that judgement because they were right.
That sort of paranoia... it is devilishly intense. I'd beg, barter and plead with God to just lead me down the right path because I had no idea what I was doing.
And in all those times of desperation, He answered.
He gave me the mental dexterity to show EI the door when they pushed for Autism testing before Vince was even three. He opened the doors to TLE when I had no idea where to place Vincent. He dropped the most perfect speech therapist into my lap who took flawless notes about his progress. He reminded me of those notes when I read Cam's entry on her own daughter, and He put the pieces of the puzzle together for me before I even knew I was holding puzzle pieces.
Each and every time I found myself doubting His sanity in placing Vincent into my care, He'd swoop in and reassure me that He wasn't, in fact, crazy. He just had a lot more faith in me than I had in Him.
And when I finally realized that, I was amazed and infinitely grateful to be counted worthy of raising my son. He is a gift, and with God in my cheering section, what is there to be afraid of?
As parents, we're always going to fear we're failing. We just need to remember that God would have never placed these blessings with us if He didn't think we could do it. Together, we can. :)