Dear Momma of a Struggling Learner…. I know…I saw you leave the office in tears.
Sitting in your car, you made the call, the one I made dozens of times. Either to a friend or your husband.
They don’t understand.
Another pill, another tutor, another plan – maybe this time he will catch up.
Catch up with the others, be the same, meet the norm.
They don’t understand.
Maybe they call it difficult, obstinant, fidgety, disrespectful, distracted, sweet… but.
For us, the moms of the struggling, the struggle is real.
And maybe it is the time of year. Maybe it is seeing you, with your face in your hands dissolved to heaves alone in your car out of ideas, unsure of the next step, the future or what you can possibly do to make this okay.
I want you to know, I know.
And I won’t lie, it is not okay. There is not a one size fits all answer. Everyone has some tidbits of advice. I had files, filing cabinets full of them – the tidbits. You know, looking back on it my heart’s desire was for no one to ever make him feel less than. I never wanted anyone to scream at him that he was a “&*%$ IDIOT” and then, he decided to become a Marine. As it turns out, John makes high 90’s on tests when drill sergeants scream this at him.
Granted, I cannot fathom this is the route I would have taken had it been suggested, but you never know. I tried everything else… everything.
Prayer vigils, essential oils, diets, colored glasses, textured socks, sound therapy, light therapy, sound-light therapy, dark therapy, horse-sound-light therapy, and all the things that would make everything… normal.
I just craved that for him, my heart broke time and again at the thought of him feeling all the pangs of falling behind.
I knew him.
I know him.
This boy, this heart, this mind, I couldn’t make them understand what we saw and what we knew about this soul. And in my car, I sat and grieved, like I see you grieving now.
I am so sorry for this hurt.
I am so sorry for this struggle.
I wish I could tell you there was one way and that at some grand, exact and poignant moment – you will cross a finish line and know, “yep, that was it.”
But I wish I had known this, this grief, this worry, and this trial was the best I could do for my boy.
Trying anything and everything at all costs was the very best of me. Even the stuff that didn’t work, that was a colossal waste of time and borderline ridiculous, was worth a try. He was worth the effort. My baby was worth the battle.
He was absolutely worth every tear that I shed in my car, on the bathroom floor, and in every single doctor’s office and clinic. Every penny spent, every stupid book, blog, article, and lecture was time I invested in an effort to protect my boy. I may not have ever found the perfect recipe, you may not, and I promise, you cannot fit your beautiful square peg into the Americanized circle that seems so simple for some and so impossible for others, but Lord knows I worked tirelessly to protect him.
There in your car, the tears you shed are the hard work of a momma who loves well.
They are not wasted.
This fight, albeit an uphill battle in gale force wind, is for your baby. Every failure, every “no,” every single “yeah, that’s not helping,” every single one of those efforts is another of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle in the life of a struggling learner.
Those efforts are your way of telling your child, “I believe.”
When I thought I was failing because my child still struggled, this is what I was missing, I still believed.
And I did. I just didn’t tell him every day. By my actions, he knew. He knew, I never gave up.
But I know I told him too, I just wish I had told him every single day.
I believe in you.
I am fighting for you because I know who you are.
I am crying for you because I believe you are going to show them all.
I believe in you.
When John left for boot camp, I placed my hand on his mountainous chest, this 6’3” 200-pound man, who had been the smallest of my babies, the weakest of my litter, and my “struggling learner,” was now boarding a bus to serve his country. I could feel his heart racing. Neither of us knew what it would be like. I had always been there to fight for him, but he said, “I have to go, but it is ok.” And I said, “I know, you can do this, I believe in you.” And he said, “I know, I love you.”
I still do.
That is the greatest gift a mom can give her struggling learner, to believe in them.
So grieve, cry in your car for this struggle. But do not believe your time is wasted. This is the essence of your motherhood, to fight for this human. He or she may not be “normal,” thank God for that. This struggle, this battle cry may last years, or it may be over by the fourth grade, but fight it well. Grieve like you love, fiercely. Let them see you cry, and let them know you rage on because you believe.
May your floors be sticky and your learners be far from normal. Semper Fi. Love, Jami
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31