The truth is he has made so much progress. The truth is I am very proud of him. Still, the truth is I hate hearing those words. Every time a specialist says to me that one of my children "no longer qualifies" for services, bile-like panic rises in my chest.
"But he still has such anger issues," I said. And, "His impulsiveness gets in his way on a daily basis," I added. Doesn't she know? Can't she see the things I see? "I did tell you that he pulled a knife on his brother last week, didn't I?" Somehow she had to see that despite her folder full of data she was missing something.
We talked some more. I cried the whole time. I heard everything she said and understood it. I work in special education, I'm fully aware of the qualification process for services at school and that the qualification requirements for services at school is very different than the qualification requirements in the medical/professional arena. I get it, but still I was reeling inside, wondering what the effects of this dropped service would be for my son.
At one point, the therapist looked me right in the eyes and asked, "How are you doing? You have a lot on your plate with your job and your kids, are you taking care of you?"
It was a sucker punch to the gut. It's no secret that I'm not the pinnacle of self-care. Nor is it a secret that I have a crazy life. I've had people say we should have a reality TV show because you simply cannot make this stuff--my life--up. I had one dear friend compare my life to Murphy's Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. She offered to have a warning sign made for my front door. Warning: Murphy's Law in full effect. Enter at your own risk.
Of course, I didn't tell the therapist about my revelation when it struck. Perhaps some day I will tell her. But, for today, I was able to stop crying. Awareness can be liberating. My son has made a ton of progress and the truth is we will survive being dismissed from this service because he's in a place, we're in a place, where it's not as critical anymore. And that's okay. That's as it should be. We should all hope and pray for a day when our children no longer qualify for services. But I recognize that's not always the case. It hasn't always been the case for us. Sometimes funding is cut. Sometimes insurance won't pay. Sometimes specialists won't listen. Sometimes doctors and teachers belittle you and dismiss your concerns entirely. Sometimes you don't even know who to go to for the help you need. I have had to fight for my boys since before they were born. And I'll continue to do so when it is truly warranted.
Here's what I want my future-self to remember: Progress is miraculous, every inch of it. Don't ever hold on to things your child no longer needs. Recognize that you'll be okay, too, mama. We don't make progress in a vacuum. Odds are that if your child is progressing and no longer qualifying for services, then you've made a hefty amount of progress, too.