Guest post by Jillian DuBois, @JillDuBois22, previously published on her site Imparted Joy
most of my life has been making sure that everything in + out of my control was perfectly maintained and appearances kept up to standards that I believed were necessary for success.
the picture perfect wife, mom, daughter, colleague, employee, friend. that’s what i thought i needed to achieve in order to feel confident + accepted.
i actually lived in fear of being different.
up until just a few years ago, it had been an exhausting existence. but what i have been able to understand is that there is no template for a successful life.
there is no available blueprint that can have specifics perfectly planned out + executed.
it just doesn’t exist.
so we muddle through life’s havoc as we search for harmony.
if we faithfully chase after wisdom + truth, we may just find the secret to it all.
recently there has been a chain of events in my family’s life that have led me to hold onto the above statement even more.
the ONE who knows me best, holds me close when i need it the most. and for that i am grateful.
i am the parent of a child who is different. not just quirky different.
you see, in our world, different is weird.
being different is excluded.
being different is misunderstood.
being different is frustrating.
looking back now, i know i misread the signals. i ignored the warning signs. i just wanted him to fit in. to find approval + be embraced in our community of friends + families.
my adult child is neuro-diverse with autism spectrum disorder + adhd exhibiting classic patterns. i’ve checked off the boxes on the list, believe me.
when he was younger, i believed the manifestations were there. but they didn’t have a label. they didn’t have a name.
my husband + i knew he was different. and that often didn’t look or feel good. but we continued to love + parent hard.
especially in comparison with all of his peers who were meeting and exceeding standards of growth in school and activities. i constantly looked for ways to keep him caught up.
to be like them.
it worked on occasions. we were pretty good at accommodating his lack of social cues + communication misunderstandings. we were able to do this for many years.
we would hyperfocus on what he COULD do well.
why did we fear him being different?
we understood biblical principles from scripture that stated how we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (psalm 139:14). we believed that to be truth. we still do. we never cared for him any less.
we have always worked together as a family unit to listen, learn, and grow in love. but at times we were impatient, exasperated, and disappointed that our efforts did not produce more results.
back to that secret i mentioned.
listen well, busy parents + families who are always seeking to elevate the normal, the accepted, and the perfect children.
our children have been created in an altogether unique design, like NO ONE else on earth.
each one with different gifts + talents to celebrate.
you know what they need from us? they need you to help convince them that they are remarkable humans. it’s not too late to start.
each one his or her own person. there is no reason to fear being different. fear is a roaring predator, seeking to destroy + dismantle our joy.
children arrive in our arms longing to be known, longing to accept themselves as they are, to be WHO they are.
and when they walk into the waters that are deeply overwhelming with rushing currents of their times, we want them to be able to come out standing firm on their own.
no standard can be created for ‘different’.
can we agree to concentrate on bravely choosing that different is BETTER than good?
better than normal. better than perfect.
#autismawareness #adhd #neurodiversity