Last year I wrote about the struggles my son was having, about how desperate we were for answers on how we could help him – how we could make his life a little easier.
He had just been referred to the Child Development Services, and so had begun a long journey of waiting lists – of patience while we hoped that everything we were trying in the mean time would be enough.
Over the course of the rest of the year, we filled in forms, we had meetings with the school, we spoke to nurses and social workers on the phone and Alex had assessments in the classroom. Finally, a decision was made following his assessments to also have a referral put in to the Mental Health Services – the people who would test for things like ADHD or anxiety.
A week ago he reached the top of that waiting list and we had our first appointment with a psychologist.
It was an early morning appointment. Armed with my coffee, I was ready to answer all the questions he would have about Alex – the ones I’d been answering over and over, over the course of the past year. The ones about his behaviour, his reactions to situations, his capacity to deal with change, the things that motivated him, the things he enjoyed, the things he struggled with, his learning progress..
I felt like I was prepared.
I wasn’t prepared what came instead.
This man wanted know to about life before Alex was born.
Life when I found out I was pregnant.
Life while I was pregnant, and then life after he arrived.
Life from my perspective. Where we lived, how we lived. How I coped, when I didn’t cope.
I had to chronologically lay out the very hardest years of my life, from start until finish to the two strangers sitting in front of me.
I was open, I was honest, but most importantly, I was factual in a way I have never been able to before.
Eventually he asked about Alex’s milestones. He got to the expected questions – when he said his first words, when he began walking, how he played with other little kids as a mini.
Right at the end of the conversation I teared up – not because of what I had just rehashed, but because I wanted to make it clear that all we wanted was an answer to “how can we help him?”.
The psychologist put his pen down, his voice softened and he said “it’s been a tough road huh?”.
I was taken aback.
He was acknowledging my struggle.
I didn’t recognise what I felt until after I’d left and after I’d had the day to process all of the events and information from the unexpected morning.
It was pride.
That feeling was pride.
The road has been tough.
There have been struggles.
There has been so much pain.
Long days and long nights; some I never thought I’d get through. Some I tried very hard to make sure I didn’t get through.
I always did though, and every single one of those days forced me to be better.
Forced me to be stronger.
Forced me to work harder.
Last week, in that tiny meeting room when I was forced to look back, I got a chance to really reflect on how far I had come.
It’s not a time I look back on often, but it’s a time that I’m glad I can’t change. That’s something I never thought I’d be able to say.
I have made so many mistakes, and I know I didn’t always make the right choices but I can stand up and say with my hand on my heart, that I always did the best that I could – the best that I knew how in my circumstances, in my frame of mind and with the resources I had available.
I stand by it all.
Those hard times, those never-ending nights, those struggles, all of those tears – those years shaped who I am, who I have become.
They forced the appreciation of the life that I have, the appreciation of the progress I’ve made, and the appreciation of the beautiful child I have, with a depth I’m not sure I’d have without such a hard road getting here.
They forced the habit that somewhere along the way I formed, of going to bed every night and thinking about how tomorrow can be better.
How I can be better.
A better mum, a better friend, sister, daughter, wife – a better me.
Those difficult years forced a new attitude towards my mistakes – one where I look for what I can learn from the bumps in the road.
What experiences I can gain.
What I can change next time to make sure things go differently.
The day was long. I fell asleep early, emotionally spent, but I fell asleep proud.
Proud, and hopeful that we’re finally on the road to some answers.
Everything is going to be alright.
We’re making progress.