“Your son is complicated. It is going to take time to fix this. He’s like a puzzle with a lot of pieces that we need to fit together.”
He said it with a smile, but my heart sank.
Fix this…puzzle pieces…complicated.
“I’m not sure I see it the same way,” I said to my son’s psychiatrist, feeling nervous, but compelled to keep going.
“My goal is to figure out how to help him be the best he can be – even if that means nothing changes. For his sake, I hope it does. But even if it doesn’t, I want to figure out how to help him live life exactly where he’s at.”
The psychiatrist looked at me, quizzically. “I think we are saying the same thing.”
“We’re not,” I thought sadly. I let it go, but felt the familiar tension rising.
I have always struggled with the idea that my children and more importantly, their special needs, are like a puzzle.
I understand the analogy. In fact, I think a jigsaw puzzle is an excellent illustration of motherhood in general.
We find the pieces that fit. Slowly, over time, a picture starts to form.
And the pieces begin to fall into place faster and faster.
But my children?
I don’t think of them as puzzles to be solved, as jumbled messes until we put the pieces in place to make a nice, pretty picture.
It goes against everything I know to be true about my boys.
And I wrestle with this tension every day.
The world tells me my children need to be fixed.
I see my children as fearfully and wonderfully made, just as they are. I believe there is a purpose and a grand design in exactly who they are today, even if nothing ever improved or changed.
The world tells me I need to do all the things – the therapies, the medicines, the educational programs, the social skills groups and the treatment plans.
I want my children to be all the things. My children must be allowed to be who they are first, with supports in place as needed – not the other way around.
The world believes in standardization, in bringing a child up to grade level and to ‘normative social functioning’.
I want individualization, in seeing my children as children first, in allowing their gifts to flourish first, before determining how best to proceed.
The world rewards my children’s progress.
I want to love my children, right where they are.