Today is about dropping the ball – hard. About feeling like you’ve flung it so far off the cliff that you might never get it back. And then, picking it back up. And it’s also the first time I’ll talk a bit about God. I don’t normally share really personal things about my family, and I certainly don’t go around talking about my Faith in God (though I probably should). I’m generally a private person. But I feel like I need to share this, knowing that someone out there is going through something similar and needs a sliver of borrowed hope. I’m terrified to post this and have it be out there, but right now the urge to lift someone up is stronger than the fear. Today is for you.
Everyone who has ever known our daughter Megan, talks about how sweet she is; how open, friendly, and likable she is. Everyone who meets her can’t help but smile, because she just has a way about her. She’s my innocent, sunny, soft hearted girl. The next thing they say, with a good natured chuckle, is how curious she is. And I don’t mean a “wondering about the world” kind of curious. I mean weird-curious. Recently my dad asked her what the capital of Texas is, and without a moment’s hesitation she said “T!”. And then he looked at me like, “homeschool huh?”. All I could do was shake my head and laugh.
Just like I did every time I watched her clumsily try sports, like a drunk guy in a dizzy bat race. When she insisted repeatedly through devestated tears that the wild rabbit who had died from the cold in our backyard needed a funeral. Every time her public school teachers described her as a “daydreamer” and said she would noticeably zone out during class. When she insists that she remembers short visits with old friends when she was just 2 years old, but can’t remember what she ate for lunch yesterday. When she constantly mixes up her words like Doc from Snow White, and when she has to stop mid sentence to figure out what she’s trying to say. Or my favorite – when she was spelling out a word for me and couldn’t recall the word for the letter K and called it “kaitch”; and then looked at me incredulously when I told her there is no such thing as “kaitch”. All the while I’ve been just shaking my head and laughing – just silly Megan again.
But there have been times when these absent minded quirks have really tested my patience. I can think of one time in particular that hit a nerve with me. I was in the middle of wrapping a gift and asked Megan to go into my sewing room and get the roll of tape that I had left on my ironing board, underneath a stack of fabric. I could see down the hall into the room and I watched her go in and stand in the middle of the room, blankly looking around. I waited, and then waited some more. Annoyed at how long this simple task was taking, I got up and went to get the tape myself. When I got to the sewing room, I demanded to know what she was doing. She stammered and said she was trying to figure out what I meant. This was the four-thousandth time something like this had happened, where she had been utterly confused by directions that I thought were perfectly clear. And I was mad. “Did you even TRY?!”, I asked her in a raised, icy voice. She stammered again, tears in her eyes. “Why don’t you ever just try?”, I said again as I huffed out of the room. That night I was only half joking when I told Mike I was certain she intentionally acts oblivious so that I won’t ask for her help anymore.
Then one night when Matthew was away for the night and Allison was sleeping, Mike and I sat down to play a game of Life with her. She was having trouble with her money and doing the math when it came time to pay in for something, so I gave her a piece of paper and a pencil and reminded her how to figure it out. I gave her a math problem to solve, which she did, and then excused herself to the bathroom. While she was gone, Mike and I had a quick conversation that I’ll never forget.
Mike: She got the answer right didn’t she?
Me: Yeah, she did.
Mike: You didn’t seem happy with it. Your eyebrows crinkled.
Me: She wrote her 5 backward.
Mike: She’s still doing that?
A pause as we heard our daughter coming back to the table.
Me: Mike, I think Megan might be dyslexic.
It suddenly just hit me like a roaring wave. I had wondered about dyslexia before, but I was always quick to dismiss it. Megan is an excellent reader, devouring 6th grade level novels for fun. And her teachers always said that she’d outgrow the backwards writing eventually. And beyond that, I really had no clue if there even were other symptoms of dyslexia or what it meant, so I had no real way of knowing. But I had said it out loud, and in a flash all these bells in my head started ringing, and I knew I couldn’t ignore it.
That night I looked up the symptoms of dyslexia and as I went down the list I felt like I was reading about my child. On a page of about 35 symptoms, Megan fits more than 2 dozen. Hot tears fell down my cheeks. Not because of the possibility of dyslexia, but because I had missed it. I had missed it and all these years, I thought my daughter just wasn’t trying hard enough. In my frustration, I had made her feel small – and it hurts this momma heart so, so much. When she told me she sometimes feels like the lines in her books go all wavy, I shrugged it off and said “well, they’re not”. When her handwriting was constantly illegible and all over the place, I scolded her to put in some effort. When she mixed up her left and her right again, I jokingly told her there was something wrong with her. When we’d tease her about being so weird, and she’d say she wasn’t, until one of us would retort with “kaitch”. The way I told all my friends and family all the funny stories of mixed up Megan and they would all shake their heads and laugh along with me. The idea that she was struggling and I was shaking my head and dismissing it all, hurts. Overwhelmingly so.
Since that night, I’ve been pouring over the internet, wanting to get as educated as I can. While dyslexia is considered a learning disability (and the most common one at that), I realized that it’s not an unsurmountable obstacle. We can do this. But could I forgive myself enough for messing this up? One night, through tears, I told Mike that I felt like I had failed our girl because I didn’t see it sooner, and he held me and calmly said, “but you know now and now we can do something – that’s not failure“. It was what I needed to hear, but there was still this ache in me. The guilt felt like a giant weight in my chest.
A beautiful friend of mine once told me, “the good news is that you don’t need to do or decide anything right now except pray; even if you don’t know what to ask, He knows what you need”. There are have been so many times when I haven’t really known how to pray or even what to pray for. The words aren’t there – I just know I’m in pain. But the good news is that God knows our hearts and hears our cries. Even when we don’t have the words and can’t get off our knees. When we’re barely hanging on and the dishes are piling up, and we have food on our shirts and are in desperate need of a shower. He’s there in it all, assuring us we’ll be alright. And in those moments when we’ve fallen, He washes it away, even when we can’t forgive ourselves. And there is peace in knowing that “God accepts us on the basis of what He did, not on the basis of what we try to do”. In my tears, I’ve been praying without knowing it. And without any urging on my part, He has been there, pulling me together.
As parents, we screw up. We burn the toast, we forget to make sure everyone has clean undies, and we lose our cool and turn into the Mom Who Yells. And sometimes we miss the signs. Sometimes we’re just flailing. But it’s all going to be okay. The guilt and the uncertainty and the doubt will fade and it won’t always be this hard. Every day God gives us a new day, free from yesterday’s mistakes and full of hope. A breath of fresh air. And we can breathe it deeply and know – we’re all going to be okay.
As a new homeschooling mom just beginning to navigate the world of dyslexia, I’ll be sharing our journey as much as I can, in the hope that it helps even one parent. I’m no expert and I’m bound to drop the ball again somewhere down the line. But as long as I keep picking it back up – there is hope. There is always hope. ♥