As I write this, I’m heading home from the annual SENG conference. I had to stay an extra day because the airline was demanding all my organs for a Sunday afternoon flight, and so I had quiet hours in which to think, something I get maybe once in a never. My brain was all flustered that I was paying it so much attention and got kinda shy. But we persevered, and now my brain and I are thick as thieves again. At least for now. Hope I’m easily forgiven when my brain and I drift apart again.
This was my third SENG conference, and for the first time I didn’t attend sessions as a ball of stress, desperately trying to find The Answer™ to help Andy and hose down the chaos fires in our home. It’s also the first time I’m not dreading going home because of my kids. I’m not thrilled with all the other random crap that’s waiting for me, but the boys aren’t even in the top five. Imagine that.
I have always hated the phrase, “this too shall pass,” because I don’t think it pays enough respect to the hell of whatever the current situation is. Of course it will pass (usually like a damned kidney stone, painfully and with a lot of screaming), but there’s always going to be something else that takes its place and I don’t know what it will be but I know it’s not likely to be easy and frankly I’m suffering now so maybe throw me a little help here. So I’m not thrilled that that phrase is kinda on target. A lot of the painful chaos of years past is behind us (knock wood), and it shocks me that I’m able to say that. I never would have believed it. There’s a whole lot more shit rushing in to fill the void, but the 2e issues are…better. I enjoy my sons now, much more than I ever have.
This weekend I was speaking to a woman at the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum meet and greet. It was about making the frightening leap to homeschooling, but it applies here too. Imagine your finger is being wrapped by a piece of thread. It gets more and more painful and purple as the string is wound tighter and tighter. Eventually it gets to the point that it has to be unwrapped or you’re going to lose a digit and be called Stumpy the Nine Fingered Flute Player. Music Minus One, indeed. Something has to be done. Somehow the thread is unwound, albeit slowly and with great fear and trepidation; what will happen? There is an immediate sense of relief, to the point of joyful tears and thanks sent up to the universe. But the swelling and pain and purple color are slow to fade and you just pray the thread did no long term damage, even while giving thanks that it’s better. That’s where we are right now.
I wish I had a magic answer for how to get to this point. The best I can come up with is time, patience, never ever EVER giving up, and…connection.
There is no way in hell we could have made it this far with my sanity intact without my gifted tribe. There is no way. Connecting with other parents in this wonky, leaky boat has given me strength to keep on keepin’ on. Talking to others through this blog, in Facebook groups, through email, in person…I’ve felt less alone and scared and I can only hope I’m returning the favor. I know things won’t continue to be this smooth…teenagers, you know…but we’ve gotten this far. When I think back to age 4, age 8, the months before we pulled Andy to homeschool, I have a hard time believing that things are as good as they are. I urge you, beg you, to connect with other parents of gifted kids. Yes, it is incredibly difficult (never want to be seen as bragging, when we’re just talking about our kids), for you’re baring yourself and your struggles to others. You feel naked. But I strongly believe in “if you decide to confide in others, you’ll discover you’re not alone.” SENG parent groups, Facebook groups, the weekly #gtchat, email lists…there are so many ways to connect.
Parenting outlier children is hard. Like…stupid, bang your head against the wall, scream at the universe, seriously contemplate running away hard. So hard that you’d consider running away to someplace that not only didn’t have wifi, but maybe not even indoor plumbing. Or wine. That hard. Make it less hard by being less alone. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been open to talking about how frustrating raising a 2e kid can be, and that has made it easier and less lonely. Other areas of my life I’m not as transparent, and I find myself lost and scared and angry and feeling very, very alone. So I get it.
Open and honest connection. It takes courage and faith, but the tribe you will find is worth it.