Am I Enough?
Updated: Feb 23, 2019
I often wonder this. I know people say, "God will never give you more than you can handle." I still wonder though. Will I be enough? Do I have enough in me to give 100% and more every day to my boys? Am I enough to fight their battles and advocate for them until they can do it for themselves? Will I do enough to teach them how to speak up for themselves and when? Will I have enough left for my husband when it is all over? Most importantly, will I have enough for me?
I fought hard for my older son all the years of his elementary school. He received a 504 for accommodations for his ADHD in 1st grade. Every year there I was, being his voice. As he got older, I would sit him down and discuss his 504 with him and ask him if the accommodations were working. I would sit with him and discuss what else he needed. When he went to middle school, I found I was still doing this until he was in 7th grade. At that point, for the first time ever, he sat in the meeting and spoke up for himself. He needed my support still, but he spoke about what he needed. I left that meeting that day with a sense of overwhelming satisfaction. I knew then he was going to be okay.
Today, I continue this process with my younger son. He was diagnosed with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) in the 1st grade. He was also identified as intellectually gifted. I knew then I was going to be in for a fight.
What I didn't know, was that I wouldn't be able to advocate for him in the same ways I did for my older son. I knew nothing about SPD. I didn't know what would work and just when I figured it out, it changed. Add to that the gifted and we are dealing with a whole different world. Two things I wasn't prepared for. I was fully prepared to fight for ADHD again. Fight for the familiar. Now I have entered unfamiliar territory, but I have to be the voice for my son.
I immediately put him up for help in 1st grade after getting that diagnosis. That was eye opening. I learned fast in that moment that his SPD diagnosis alone wasn't going to get him the supports I could see he would need. But we are reactive, not proactive. They gave him a 504 to start 2nd grade with. Here we go, I thought. I knew I needed to learn a lot over the summer so I could advocate for him.
One year later in 2nd grade, his teacher was telling me about his struggles in writing. His 504 accommodations were lengthy and yet, he was still struggling to write and control his frustration. We decided to put him up again. They tested this time. He, once again, wasn't found eligible. It was determined that he didn't need specially designed instruction (SDI). I had the teacher's support about his struggles in writing and his level of frustration. But once again, I was turned away and told his 504 would be sufficient for him.
Here we are. Present day. He's in 3rd grade now. I hired an advocate this time. I thought maybe that would help since I was navigating unfamiliar waters. Gifted with a disability...twice exceptional. I thought maybe I didn't say the right things in the spring and having someone trained would help me.
And here I am...writing this after a very long, intense meeting with the school. One where I felt on trial. I felt my parenting and the home life were being called into question. Not his schooling, instruction, or performance. One where they felt, and acted, like they had all the cards and I had nothing and they were going to play all the cards they had to prevent my son from getting help. I listened as they read the reports. The reports I knew, deep down, were not a true reflection of my son. But here I was, once again, in this room listening to them say he was fine and he didn't struggle, to spite the proof he did. One where I knew deep down, they were going to say they weren't going to give him SDI again. Am I going to be enough for him today? To spite my arguments that two years of a 504, one loaded with 20 accommodations, wasn't working, they did just that. They told me they recognize he has a disability and that it impacts him, but he doesn't need SDI. Here I sat...crushed for my son. Feeling inadequate as a mom. Feeling like I had let him down. Feeling as though I am not enough.
I don't know where we go from here. I know private school is an option. I know sending him to a different school, in the same system, is an option. I know my son needs more. I just don't know what he needs.
Will I ever be able to get him what he needs? Will I be able to end his writing struggles and his frustration? Will he ever be able to reach his full potential? Will I ever find a teacher or school who gets him? Will I find a way to get over this hurdle and move him forward in his education?
These are the questions I struggle with daily. And I always come back to...
Am I going to be enough?