I dropped off my son Nicolas to school one morning and a parent greeted me with his usual smile and nod. But then he paused for a second and said, “Not getting enough rest, huh?” I was taken aback for a moment and thought that I must have looked bad enough to warrant that comment. Granted, I rushed out the door with barely a brush to my hair and a quick swipe of the toothbrush in my mouth that morning. But I felt offended and my feelings were hurt. After licking my wounds and vowing to stop this perpetual habit of yanking my hair back carelessly in a ponytail, I was ready to admit that my usual glow was gone. I know that I had recently let stress of motherhood get the best of me. The lack of sleep and the worries of tomorrow have been more frequent.

The milestones and changes that children go through are often times bittersweet and/or difficult for many parents. As kids get older their problems get more complex and their behavior more difficult to manage. At least for me, there are times I wish my own kids would remain toddlers. Resolving their problems with a hug, a kiss and a special treat was all it took to make them feel better. If their behavior was unacceptable I would be able to physically remove them from a situation and plop them into a restricted area for time out. Those years were much easier in many ways compared to what my kids are going through now.

One problem in particular that has been a thorn to my side for sometime now is that my son Nicolas may possibly have a learning disability. My husband Eric, a Special Education specialist, had suspicions when Nicolas was not hitting certain milestones when he was a baby. The signs were mild and they were easy to ignore if I didn’t know any better. But I held on to hope and I chose to believe that he just needed the gift of time, time to mature physically and cognitively. Now, at almost 7 years old, the disability is more evident. I am facing this reality and I can’t go back to the past when things were easier to fix. A hug, a kiss and a special treat won’t suffice. The dreams and goals I had will change and a new set of dreams will be made to adjust to Nicolas’ situation. He’s now old enough to know his limitations, and he knows he’s different from other kids.

Dealing with his self-esteem and confidence has been a challenge for our family. However, we are fortunate that Eric is a professional in this area, and he can provide a myriad of resources and support. I think the key to success is to see Nicolas’ uniqueness. The questions I have to ask myself are, “What are his strengths, and how can we build upon his strengths to accommodate his weaknesses?” He may be different and learning may be a challenge, but he’s not alone, and settling for less is not an option. Yes, I loose sleep over this, and it’s been hard to accept this reality. What parent wouldn’t? But with the right support and a loving community of friends and family around us, we will be okay. As we delve further into this new direction for Nicolas, I will share solutions and ideas, how we implemented them and what really worked for my son and for our family. For now, I will take one day at a time and enjoy every success with Nicolas that comes our way.

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