"My daughter has a learning disability." I catch myself thinking now and then. It is an odd feeling because most of the time I forget. Then more forms come home from school addressing her progress or updating me on her specialized schedule -- then it flashes to the front of my mind again.
"I am the mother of a child with a learning disability."
I think the hardest part of mothering is letting go of all your preconceived notions and assumptions about how raising your children would be. After all, reading has always been one of the things I do best. I never expected to have a child who struggled so mightily to grasp the concept.
Her condition has not been given an exact name. It has to do with slowed processing of letters into her mind and then into words and then into vocal sounds. So her vocal reading fluency suffers the worst. Some might say they wouldn't want their child to be labeled... and I understand that feeling. No one wants to be told their child is "less than perfect".
I went to the meeting after Bee's initial testing with my claws out and my "Mama-bear" persona all suited up and ready to roar. But the guard came down when we kicked off the meeting by talking about Bee's strengths. It was clear this cluster of people were there to build on all the things that are right about my daughter not tear us down for anything wrong with her. I walked in feeling like I was about to defend my daughter to a gazillion people attending what felt like in interrogation. I left feeling like I was part of a team, working together for her best interests. In that moment I gave thanks, again, that we live in such a great school district.
So despite, the new "label" of Learning Disability, I was relieved. Relieved that the huge struggle we had when we were homeschooling wasn't just me. Relieved to have some answers. Relived to have a plan and goals and a great support system in place. Relieved she would go on to 2nd grade despite some challenges. Relieved all the testing showed she is doing well in so many other areas. Relieved she is happy where she is and doesn't mind all the extra attention (i.e. help). Relieved to have information that says she may well grow out of this and it may only be a stage in her educational journey. Relieved for professionals who I trust. Relieved that it wasn't something worse.
There are worries, of course. Mothering is full of worrying. I guess I worry the most about how she will be seen by others. Maybe because I know how I see her but I can't control whether other people will give her a fair chance before they decide on her worth. There are so many stigmas shading "special-ed" students and "normalcy" is such a valuable commodity in public schools. I know kids can be cruel.
I worry they will see her through the haze of their notions of "disability". I worry her peers will judge her character by what she can't do vs. what she can. I worry their ideas about "normal" will color their view of her...
Like a dirty window.
But mostly I forget to worry because I'm busy being her mom. This is the only daughter I have... she is my "normal".
Winning the 1st grade runner-up in a local art contest.
And She is so full of talant and other skills...
She writes imaginatively,
Puzzels and deduces problems logically,
Does great at mental math,
Loves science and history,
is creative and artistic,
Desires to learn and to please,
Works hard and is diligent,
is kind and makes peace,
Shows above average conversation and vocabulary understanding...
So mostly my attention is too caught up in her long list of abilities to single out her one known disability.
Maybe that's just another role of a mother -- to not let things muck-up the way you see things as a parent... To wash away the unfair social stigmas, biased ideas and skewed logic that could cloud your focus on the beauty of your child's true being... To be your child's advocate, supporter, encouragement, and life teacher... To make sure the "windows" through which others see her are as untainted by misunderstanding and misinformation as possible.
I can do that.
I am a mom.
I do windows.
Seeing To The Heart in NE