A Lesson in Humility
Of all the lessons we’ve learned so far on this journey, maybe the most important (and at times the hardest) is learning humility while raising a child. Of our entire lives, it can feel like we are under the most scrutiny while we raise our children. That’s not to say that we ARE under the most scrutiny, but it can feel like that a lot. Maybe it’s a projection of our own feelings as parents that we assume everyone around us is watching, judging our every move.
It especially feels this way while raising a child with special needs. The number of appointments and eyes on our children can be overwhelming. We answer questions that parents of typical children never hear, and probably never even wonder themselves. The truth is all of these appointments and questions lead to bettering our children, and those asking the questions have tools that can help our children succeed. But the path from point A to B can feel like a test as a parent.
This week we had Regan’s annual evaluation by the Early Intervention team. Early Intervention is a state funded program that provides therapy services for children who qualify. Some children qualify after “falling behind” on the development chart, and some qualify based on diagnosis (<- the case with Regan). Every year, the team comes out and administers little “tests” for Regan and dozens of questions for me to assess where she is developmentally. It also helps determines which services she should be getting based on her development path. Regan participates in what she probably assumes is just play time; she stood independently with no assistance right after I got done saying “she needs assistance getting into standing.” I’m sure that won’t be the last time she surprises me. Regan flies through the test with a smile on her face, and then come the questions.
I’m asked everything from “describe her typical day – what time does she wake up, when does she eat, what does she eat…? Has she been sick this year?” to “how long can she play independently? Does she cry when you leave the room? Does she nod yes or shake her head no?” It feels exhausting, and at the end of the nearly two-hour session, I think I’m more spent than even Regan (who definitely works harder than me at these things). The exhaustion feels emotional. My mind is spinning with answers and reflecting on questions. It can feel like a scrutiny of our life, and there are questions I answer where I know the indication is she is behind her typical peers on a developmental chart. At the end of the “test”, the assessment is reviewed with me, and the administrators are careful with their words as they tell me where Regan stands (pun intended) compared to her typical peers. I steel myself for moments like this; it’s a mentality that Regan has taught me. You see, it can be hard to listen to people who observe your child for an hour to make an assessment on how your child is developing. It would be easy to be defensive and protective over our angel, but that would not serve Regan. It’s not my job to be defensive in these moments; it’s my job to receive their evaluation and apply their words and critiques as I see fit. It’s my job to understand that these moments are meant to build Regan up, not tear her down, and their words (while sometimes hard to receive) give me an invaluable third-party perspective on Regan’s successes and areas of improvement.
So how did she do? She scored within the typical range on Cognitive Skills and Social/Emotional Skills (go girl!). She is behind on Communication and Physical development. This comes as no surprise since this is typical and (to a certain extent) to be expected based on her diagnosis. My heart soars when they tell me her emotional skill is excellent, and cognitively she is very attentive. It stings when they tell me she is behind in other areas, though I obviously am acutely aware of where she falls and areas of improvement. Regan has taught me to be humble in these moments and to listen carefully so that I can be the best mom for her. I refuse to do her any disservice by being protective; I see these moments as building blocks in Regan’s life. I’ll face them continuously, and I think it gets a little easier every time. It’s another lesson Regan has taught me –be humble in the moments it’s the hardest. It helps Regan grow and helps me grow as her mother.
P.S. We are SO excited that there is finally warmer weather in PA! Celebrate Spring!