There is a level of gratitude so rare that it is nearly impossible to describe. It is so deep and so profound that it reaches into your soul, digs in its tendrils, and squeezes until you cannot breathe or think and all you can do is fall to your knees. Fall to your knees, curl into a tight ball, and breathe gratitude into the air around you. Everyone has a different threshold for that kind of gratitude, and I’d say it changes based on the situation. If I’d been ill and had just gotten a clean bill of health, that would absolutely be this level of gratitude. But sometimes it’s an improvement on something that had been so hard for so long and now it’s not and my god the change is stunning and you just…fall to your knees.
Because that is all you can do.
This past weekend the SENG conference was in Chicago. I attended and presented, but this year, because of the close proximity to home, Andy was a volunteer. He helped out whenever and wherever the organizers needed and was happy to do so. I never saw him without a smile on his face, just doing what needed to be done. (Kid badly needed a haircut, don’t know what the hell his mother was thinking…I need to have a talk with that woman, she’s raising him weird). This complex 2e child who had me rocking under my desk sobbing more than once in the last dozen years stepped up and volunteered for the organization that was most responsible for his parents getting him to the point that he could step up and volunteer. He was courteous and helpful and prompt and responsible and polite and kind. So, SO many people knew him and knew his story from this blog, and yet he was not embarrassed by it, and in fact played along with that fact. “Yes, hi, I’m A and you all know me.” He made connections and shook hands and took business cards and has ideas and projects lined up. Of all the people who attended the SENG conference this weekend, I am convinced Andy left the most changed.
And I fall to my knees.
I curl into a ball and breathe gratitude into the air around me.
I do not rock and sob under my desk.
Instead there is a new sensation, that of curling tendrils of profound gratitude weaving their way into the deepest depths of my soul. The infant who rarely slept, the young child who would routinely lose his shit, the schoolboy misunderstood by educators, the kid struggling to make sense of his world…had coalesced into this amazing young man in front of me, strong and sure because of the struggles he overcame.
I hardly know what to do, I’ve been so accustomed to challenges with this kid, that all I can do is give thanks with every breath. These improvements have been building over the last couple of years, positive incremental changes occasionally alternating with setbacks, but this weekend provided the outside perspective I so needed to see how far he really has come.
Next year SENG is in San Diego and I have been informed, in no uncertain terms, that he will be attending even if I do not. Guess I know what our family vacation is next year; maybe we can roll a few college visits into that trip.
When the days were dark and my child was suffering and I couldn’t see how things would ever get any better, I rocked under my desk and sobbed.
Today I fall to my knees, curl into a tight ball, and breathe gratitude.
And if it has not already happened, there will come a time when Andy too will fall down on his knees in gratitude for all you and Tom have done for him. He and J were very lucky to be parented by you two! There is no greater or harder work on the planet than parenting a 2E child. Bravo to Mom and Dad!!!!
Jen, this gives me teary eyes and goose bumps. Thank you for sharing your stories and hope. I’m not surprised by this one – you are an amazing parent and he is an awesome kid. <3