Turns out the road to acceptance is long and winding. That has come as a surprise to me. I knew that accepting your child's diagnosis of an exceptionality mimiced the grief cycle, but I really did not expect it to be a two step dance, one step forward, two steps back.
You see, I was okay with it all, because we love him as he is, it's okay to be different, etc. etc. etc, place your own parenting cliche here. But the reality is, every time I am made painfully aware of his differences in certain social contexts, like, say...the dreaded birthday party, I find myself back to a place I thought I had left long ago.
Sometimes seeing his through someone else's eyes hurts too. Like if I see someone kind of looking at him quizzically I might get a blinding, stabbing pain that I wasn't expecting, because I already thought I was accepting.
Or if I'm chatting with somebody about it all, even somebody close, and they make a statement about him, it shocks me when it hurts. No ill will was intended, it's just that sometimes I'm not prepared for other people to notice his ways of being different, if they notice it, it may mean that everybody notices it. The sane part of me knows that he is different, plain and simple, and people are going to notice. That same sane part of me knows that one day I will be able to handle that better, but as for right now, it stings.
You see, at 4, going on 5, we're just leaving that grace period that a tender age allows. For so long, he was just such a verbally advanced kid, that all people noticed about him was how smart he was. Quirky behaviours are adorable in young kids, which is oh so helpful. But that lovely umbrella is starting to be lifted away, and I'm clinging with two firm hands.
I know that my acceptance will continue to grow, just as my love will. I'll come to better know who he is, and someday I'll to stop wondering about who I thought he was going to be.
Because even though this road is long and winding, we're buckled in, and commited to the drive.