I awoke at 2 a.m. the other day to the sound of the wind howling and rain hitting our windows sideways. After tossing and turning for about a half hour, I got up and went downstairs. It was a long night and quite frightening at times, mostly because we are surrounded by tall trees that often come down in storms like this. I spent a lot of the night praying!
The next day was still stormy but about mid-morning I looked out the window and saw a large patch of clear sky and bright sunshine pouring down. It was enough to give my spirits a large boost. And just like that, the storm was over.
Raising a child with special needs is a lot like that. Things will be fine and then all of the sudden, the storm will hit. The winds of anger and difficulties and meltdowns will blow. It's hard to deal with. It's frightening to see such raw emotion spewed out there. It's overwhelming as a parent and you can ask yourself, did I do something wrong? Am I handling this in a way that is aggravating the situation instead of helping it? It feels like it will never end!
And just as quickly, the emotions die down. The storm passes. The crisis is averted. The sun comes out and your spirits lift.
But there is always an aftermath of destruction in storms, isn't there? When I went outside the next day there were limbs and bits of trash scattered around the yard. Two days later I found the cap to someone's chimney (and I hope it's not ours!) laying on the church sidewalk. There was debris.
And there is debris after the storm of meltdowns. I have a hard time shaking off the knot in my stomach and the tight feeling in my chest. Dealing with such raw emotion can leave you exhausted. I think it's difficult for people who don't have children with disabilities to really understand how complex it all is and how much energy it takes.
Even though things are going fairly well for Nathan, I'm concerned for his future. He has so many expectations and desires, but he lives in fear. Fear that someone will find out he has a disability. Fear that somehow someone will say that he can't be a firefighter. Fear of so many things.
Our storm started because he has made the decision to discontinue the services of the agency that provides him with job coaching. No matter how much his father and I have tried to reason with him that he may need them again in the future. To him it's a mark of his disability. That there is something wrong with him. That he is on the same level with people who are severe. He is afraid that because he uses their services, he can't be a firefighter. No matter how often we remind him that he already is one and the people in charge know his disability. He's afraid of this anonymous "someone."
Because he is twenty-one and we don't have guardianship over him, it's his decision to make. We can express our concerns, but really have no say in the matter. I understand his feelings, but I'm still not sure this is the right move. And yet, I'm not sure it's not the right move.
The only thing I can do is pray. Encourage him. Offer advice when he is willing to take it.
The sun will come out when the storm is over.