The lobby at Holiday Towers was full of activity.
Children were playing games and making noise. Adults were mingling — talking and enjoying one another’s company.
And there I was: In a skirt. On my hands and knees on the floor. Staring down a teen who was sitting on the floor in a snit. Whispering mother words through clenched teeth.
As I whispered, I wondered: “Just how did I get HERE?”
I got there because I am the mother of a child with a developmental disability.
When I became such a mother nearly 20 years ago, motherhood as I knew it was tossed on its ear. The expectations changed. Everything became more complicated.
From nursing (she didn’t gain), through walking (she didn’t), through talking (that was delayed too, but improved when she learned to read at 3), life with her has been a challenge.
But we persevered.
We’ve worked for everything together. Since age 3, I’ve been her therapist (speech, physical and occupational), her teacher, and her mother.
When she finally took that first glorious step months before her fifth birthday, things began taking off. We were finally on our way to an abnormally normal life. She was talking and learning well. At age 10, she could answer many history and science questions.
But all that was stopped.
Around age 12, she was infected with Epstein-Barr Virus. And I missed it. I didn’t interpret the early symptoms correctly, and was ignorant that other medical conditions she developed were related to the EBV.
At age 16, it blew up into an autoimmune disease — Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. Her body started attacking her brain.
Although we have made some progress against the PANS, certain tendencies — particularly her obsessive-compulsive behaviors — remain a constant battle.
And that is what put me on the floor in the midst of normal people, who probably felt more awkward than I.
I’m sharing this to remind you normal parents that when you see a kid melt down, or watch a mother duel with a kid on the floor, it’s likely not what you think.
She’s not a bad mom with a bad kid.
Often she’s a weary mom with a sick child, who has found herself in a life she never expected.
Don’t pity her.
Pray for her — that her kid will be healed and that she doesn’t lose faith.
And then help her up off the floor.