Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Balance (Really?)

Is balance really possible? For most adults, finding balance is the journey between work and home, kids and self, or the discovery of true meaning in ones life. I believe the shift of balance changes daily. What is important one day, is put on the back burner the next. I suppose it is by design that we spread the weight of responsibilities and, with some effort, find balance.

Here's the thing, there is one area of my life that is never put on the back burner. For me, my autistic sons struggle to integrate with his peers, his academic potential, and what he can ultimately do in his life is foremost in my mind. As I clean my house, go grocery shopping, volunteer at school, even during my sleeping hours, the weight of trying to balance out my son's life is too important to make most other things matter.

What do I do to try to get some balance in this area of my life? I advocate (at least try), I question, I have play dates, and I worry if I am doing enough. Will I ever feel like I have done enough? The dreaded realization is occurring. As I talk with the school about my son's progress and the need to see a more defined measurement (with progress monitoring and graphing models), the teacher gingerly walks a line trying to instruct me to be proud of what he can do, not what he can't. The message was clear and was this, "your son is a gentle and kind person. Love him for those qualities. Your son's quality of life depends upon you coming to terms with his abilities. Measuring progress won't help him when he simply can't do the same things his peers can". I understand what her words of wisdom were suggesting. I appreciate that she is walking the rope with me and trying to direct me while I am feeling so lost. What do I do with this information? How do I find the balance for my child so that he can work up to his potential, but not expect him to do, be or learn something that is just too difficult for him? Where is the balance for my son?

So, I struggle with these questions today. As my eye twitches from the stress, I do not believe that my son needs to settle. That I need to settle. I will still expect accountability from the school in progress monitoring. Additionally, I can tell you this: What is in the best interest of my son is to realize his limited capabilities, but expect him to be able to adapt and overcome them. I believe there is a way to get him from A to Z. It may not be the same course as other parents take with their children, but there is a way.

For now, balance isn't really an option. How about you? Do you believe balance is possible?