In the past ten days Ted has passed out twice which has resulted in stitches in his head, two trips to the lab for blood work, a liver ultrasound, an echocardiogram and two visits to the primary care physician with a third visit scheduled for February 25th.
To say it has been an eventful couple of weeks would be an understatement.
And as I sit here by the fire with a cup of tea, only recently returned from the cardiologist, I felt the need to sit down and work out my thoughts.
This might sound really weird, but I am relieved and pleased at all that has happened. And yes, I am uptight.
But first the relieved.
See Ted is very overweight. He has been since his late-teen years. He lives a sedentary lifestyle preferring computer related activities to anything else. Couple his inactivity with a poor diet and it equals where he is now. I have learned though, mostly through raising Ted just what the expression “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” means. I can’t make Ted eat wholesome food. I can provide it. I can prepare meals with it. But I can’t make him eat it.
Nor can I make him exercise. I can exercise. I can provide opportunities for him to exercise. But I can’t force him to exercise. So instead, I model what I consider to be good behavior and then I wait.
Over the course of the last two years Ted has begun to come around. He is walking and doing some stretching exercises. Somehow sensing the moment to be right I have made some suggestions and he has been open to the ideas. Baby steps I thought.
Then last Monday I invited him to do some weight lifting exercises with Neal and I. Again he agreed, and encouraged, we designed what we thought was a beginner-level session with six exercises. He eagerly completed the workout with us and then immediately afterwards, he passed out, fell, hit his head, went to the doctor for stitches and the parade of medical tests began.
And that is why I am relieved.
I am relieved because he’s admitting and addressing his physical condition. He even worked out with us a second time, which resulted in the second state of brief unconsciousness.
But he wants help and is willing to overcome the present obstacles and put forth the effort to get it.
Guys this is huge for Ted.
And a relief to me.
Now the pleased part.
He has gone to each of these doctor’s appointments, filled out all the paperwork, asked all the questions, on his own.
This morning I sat in the corner of the waiting room (Ted doesn’t drive so I provided the transportation) and while I tried to read my book he went to the counter, spoke to the receptionist, signed himself in and went back for the test, alone.
I thought about all the IEP meetings, all the times in the principal’s office, the 4,398 phone calls I got from his aide, I thought of how so very involved I was, and now, I have successfully handed that responsibility to him.
On the drive home he told me how glad he was to have the test over.
“It was very stressful,” he said.
“Were you stressed more because of what they might find or because you were doing something you haven’t done before?” I asked.
“Both,” he replied and then added, “it was mostly not knowing what was going to happen. That was what stressed me and my blood pressure showed that. They took it both before and after the test and my diastolic dropped 12 points on the after the test reading.”
“The test was over and you relaxed,” I confirmed.
“If you had to go back and get a second echo would you be as stressed?” I asked.
“Not nearly as much because I would know what to expect,” he answered.
“Ted, you are doing a great job recognizing what you are feeling and why, and please know dad and I are with you all the way, but we are going to continue to let you go to these appointments on your own,” I said.
“Actually, that’s the way I prefer it,” he replied.
“As you should.”
And with that we changed the subject and that is why I am pleased. Because my son is facing the unknown on his own. He is stressed, as he should be, but he is recognizing it, and properly so. See, I have always said, he just has a different curriculum. He just has always had to channel his efforts in a slightly different direction than most. But it is working. And with the extra time he has been afforded, because yes, his developmental time-table has always been set differently, he is making the progress that he needs to make, the way he needs to make it.
I am so very proud of him. I mean really, he is having some scary tests done and he is articulating and coping with his stress. Anyone who is autistic or the parent of an autistic child knows how freakin’ huge that is. And although part of me is concerned about what we might find, I am more relieved that we are on the right path. He is willing to work on his health and walk straight, and on his own, into unknown and highly stressful situations.
Today’s experience also confirmed to me that when push comes to shove, I don’t care that I’ve never been paid one red cent for being a mother, because dear God, I am the richest woman in the world for being one and I don’t need anyone, not even the President of the United States to recognize the work I do, because I know, down to the core of my soul just how very important and worthwhile the work I do is.
Guiding my son and watching him go from not being able to cope with the slightest unknown to being able to face one of the scariest unknowns, well, highlights just how important my job as a mother is and the fact that others often do not recognize that learning occurs at the direction of mothers, from the moment a child is born, and not just in preschool programs is shameful.*
How reaffirming it is to know how I have mattered in the life of one little boy who is well on his way to becoming an independent man. The government couldn’t tax the 1%ers enough to pay mothers what they are truly worth.