Today, I’m doing something a little different. I’m sharing a deeply personal and raw piece of writing. I recently wrote this little blurb at a writer’s workshop in New York. Many of you know that my older son is on the autism spectrum. I talk about how that has helped me grow and learn, but it’s sometimes difficult to talk about the hard parts of life. Today, I want to share the raw truth about some of the struggles I go through.
I need to control my coffee intake this morning. I hate that because I love my morning coffee so much. It’s warm and invigorating and gives me a nice brain buzz. I will just have to wait today. Instead, I popped an Ativan as it has the opposite effect. Ativan has been my saving grace at these meetings. I sit there fighting the urge of raw rage. Gathered around the table, the first order of business is for everyone to sign in and share B.S. pleasantries. I can feel the tension in the room (as I’m sure everyone can). It’s my fault we all feel this way, I say to myself in my head. Be nice, don’t react, don’t puff up. Don’t start talking all loud and fast.
Every few months since he was 3, I get to attend the IEP meeting. IEP means Individualized Education Plan. What it really means to me is not being heard, not being taken seriously, and knowing in my desperate heart, these people and the school system don’t care about my son. They don’t drive to work pleading with God, the universe, your higher self, or whatever you happen to believe to please crash the car. Because I would happily give my life just to give him the chance to live and grow and develop just like every other kid.
One year, they even decided – after an evaluation that I didn’t know about – that he no longer qualified for the IEP. The following fall, they sold me on a 504 plan and told me how much better it would be. Of course, turns out that was a packet of lies. The final thread of my trust had just snapped.
In middle school, I summoned all the power to humiliate myself and told the principal my son pooped a rock last week at the bus stop on the street corner in front of all the other kids. My strategy paid off and they gave me the IEP back. So now today, I have the privilege of demoralizing myself repeatedly in the hopes my son will get to be on the newspaper one more year. Or would I get another voicemail from the P.E. teacher in all his militant cadence:
Ms. Shores. I have a problem with your son, as of late. Keagan refuses to participate in P.E., says it’s not educational.
I’d return his call: Hey Mr. so and so, did they tell you he is autistic? Do you know anything about that?
Turns out, in their typical incompetence, no one told him. So I will end this rant by saying I’m willing to bite my tongue another day. I’ll plead with the deity while I drive to work and be grateful for Ativan that keeps me out of jail. What I know for sure is that in a world of PCs, my son is a Mac!
This blurb really made me emotional when I wrote it. I felt raw and angry, frustrated and helpless. You can probably feel that frustration in the text. But it’s important for me to share this for a couple of reasons.
#1: Sometimes the situation sucks.
Sometimes you do just have to hold in the frustration and suffer through. It’s up to you to power through for the things you are passionate about. For me, that’s my boys. I’ll sit through that meeting a hundred more times if it means my son will get what he needs.
#2: It’s okay not to be completely okay all of the time.
I know many of you have felt the pressure to be perfect. It’s an expectation often placed on entrepreneurs, parents, and people in general. But it’s not an expectation you always have to live up to.
Real life sometimes kicks your butt. But you just have to get up and soldier on. Your life is defined by those little moments when you decide to keep going. You have it in you. Keep going. Here’s a worksheet to help you out.