I always knew I would be a Mom. It was a certainty. I had no real idea what form of motherhood I would be blessed with but I was ready for it all. Step child? no problem, I'm from a blended family myself. Adopted? I'd raise her and love her like my own. Bio Mom? Sure thing!
Of course, I wasn't prepared to have a child with special needs. It never even crossed my mind and I scoffed at Piper's dad when he brought it up during my pregnanacy. Bah! Those things happen to other people not me and my precious girl.
Don't you just love how life comes along to educate you?
So here I am in the full bloom of motherhood 7 years later. Rasing a beautiful soul who was an enexpected but welcome gift to my life. She's made me rich. I have lovingly (and sometimes painfully) received every gift she has offered. I'm trying my best to give her what she needs.
One of Piper's favorite activites is to swim. It looks more like organized drowning but she's happy and safe so who cares? I'll tell ya who. The bench. Do you have this bench at your activites? The bench of the typical Moms sitting on the sidelines chatting casualy with eachother? Talking about typical things?
I'm gonna be honest, I HATE that damm bench.
I'm exhausted by the time we get to these things since I begin my day at 3:30am every day. By the time we get to swim I've worked an 8 hour day, rushed to get Pie from school, had snack and playtime and then rushed out again for the activity. Sometimes I just want to enjoy my girl and not have to be the "advocate" the "educator". I just want to sit there and watch my baby's joy. Piper loves the water. LOVES it. She is as fond of a pool as she is of a puddle or a bath. Water makes her happy and calm. Mostly. The local pool we swim at is a flurry of activity. There are 3 classes going on simultaneously and a radio on playing music over the PA. We've had moslty group lesson for cost reasons and have had minimal success staying focused. I have worked with the staff closely to reduce the outside distractions (the radio is now off for her lessons and the swim meet teacher doesn't yell as much). We've made adaptations to help Piper but it's still challenging for the teacher to focus on her as well as the other kids cause Pie is so distracted she doesn't stay with the group. As a result, everyone within ear shot knows my daughter's name. To the uneducated her behavior looks like she's and out of controll, spoiled kid who wont listen to the teacher. To the trained eye she presents as a socialy motivated kid with ASD. I don't enjoy sitting on that bench with the other mothers. I can feel the looks from the other parents as they begin to see her differences. It's hard to watch her struggle with, what are for me, simple requests. That half hour has seemed like agony and I can't say how many times I wanted to crawl under a rock. Ugh.
Guess what I did?
I've changed my strategy!
PRIVATE lessons. Oh la la we are so chic! I had a preconcieved idea that private lesson are for "wealthy" kids and not po'folk like ourselves but I finaly investigated and it is NOT out of our range. It's the perfect solution and she is learning and thriving! We may go back to group lessons someday but for now this is what's working. Her teacher is patient and kind and has worked with other ASD kids, and best of all she is completly focused on Piper alone for a full half hour.
You know what else is working? I am enjoying the bench. I'm not chatting up the other moms yet, but I am getting more comfortable. I no longer sit in vigil evey muscle tense waiting to spring up and help out or willing Piper to perform. I can just relax and trust her teacher is keeping her engaged and safe. It's no longer obvious to everyone withinn earshot that my gal struggles. I call that a victory.