I wondered if she could see my eyes watering every single time we meet to discuss my son. I always blink the tears back so we can keep discussing, so we can continue to make appointments for him to see her, so I can tell her the things I’m noticing at home, and the things she notices in session. Tears don’t help when we’re trying to figure out ways to help him until we can officially find a name for what it is that he’s contending with. When she tells me that we could potentially have a diagnosis by January, if the psychiatrist has space to do so, I feel relief and sadness. It’s a strange feeling. On one hand, it’s not the year we were originally told, that alone is a miracle. It means we’ll have something to help him at school, at home, at his activities. It’s going to save us in so many ways. On the other, it means a Diagnosis. A word that will be attached to him for life. A word to sum up what’s going on in our lives.
It feels so much bigger than me. It’s so utterly and completely overwhelming.
The weight of each of these sessions always drops on me as we exit, and today is no different. I shoot my husband a quick text to tell him the news that we’ll potentially see someone in January. I tell him I’ve scheduled a session when he’s off for the holidays so he can meet the therapist. The kids race around on the sidewalk of our town’s main street, exchanging thoughts on the kind of ice cream they will get at our promised stop for the afternoon while pretending to be dinosaurs.
My husband responds quickly and shares the same relief I feel over seeing a psychiatrist sooner than later. He thanks me for scheduling an appointment so he can be involved because mostly, the onus of all of this is completely on me. I’m the one scheduling the appointments, and doing all the talking about the breakdowns we’re seeing at home, constantly scribbling notes here and there, reminding myself to bring these situations up, pulling him out of school and explaining his missed time in school. I’m the one who works with our son while he struggles through homework, and the one building him up when his marks don’t reflect the hard work he’s put in. In no way do I resent my husband for any of this because it’s just the way the cards have fallen. However, knowing that and saying that, doesn’t make me feel any less alone.
The kids quickly buckle themselves up, half-arguing over ice cream flavors as I take the driver’s seat and start the car. The radio softly plays some peppy pop music, and I sigh. I grab my phone, and text my husband,
“I don’t know how to say this other than to say, I’m completely and utterly overwhelmed by all of this, Dalen.” I hit send, and as I do, the tears I was blinking back, fall down my cheeks slowly. Guilt washes over me. Why do I feel overwhelmed? This is the best process for us to be taking with our son. This is what we need to do to help him, and yet, somewhere in a deep corner of my being, I wish that I could just be the parent who buries her head in the sand, and ignores the whole situation. It would be so much easier.
Sometimes, I imagine that this is all a bad dream, and we’re going to wake up from it any second. My daytimer won’t be full of appointments, highlighted with random concerns. Even for the brief second I allow myself to go to this space, I wind up feeling selfish. The negative self-talk enters and I ask myself what sort of mother even allows herself to have these sorts of thoughts. It’s not normal, I whisper harshly to myself.
I put my phone down and put the car in drive. I know exactly how my husband will respond to my text, and I know it’s not what I want to hear or read right now. I have no idea what I want to hear right now, honestly. I don’t feel like the good mother everyone keeps telling me I am. I don’t feel like I’m an incredible advocate for my son. I don’t feel like I have any of this under control, even though I keep being told I’m on top of everything. I feel like I’m drowning in the magnitude of this situation, only reaching the surface occasionally, gasping for air. I feel like an imposter who has her shit together. Mostly, I feel so alone, and so tired.
“Mama, I just love my therapist so much. I love that I get to play with sand, and draw pictures, and play with her.” His voice cuts through the music as we make our way down the road to the ice cream shop.
I peer at him through my rear view mirror, his smile blasting me like the sun. Somehow, without even seeing my tears, without even knowing how I feel, he delivered to me, exactly what I needed. Reassurance straight from the source. A reminder that no matter how overwhelmed I am, no matter how valid those feelings are (and they are), this is about him. This marathon we’re running right now to get answers? It’s for him. It’s about making his life better, and easier. Because for all the ways this is intense for me, I need to remember, that he’s the one living with of these issues.
I refocus my attention on the road, and, of course, internally, too.
“I’m glad, hun. I’m really glad.”