We've helped each other through a lot lately. Deaths of both of our fathers, struggles with other family members, coping with too many things life threw at us in too short a period of time. We've helped each other through navigating our kids through whatever is going on with them, whatever they were diagnosed with, with seeking help when we know we need it, with forgiving ourselves for our sensed failures as mothers.
We've reassured one another that we're doing the best we can. That there is nothing wrong with asking for help. That we are doing the right thing for them, even if it's hard for us to confront it. That it's okay to be frustrated.
Then she asked me to write about something.
She asked me if she was doing the right thing by not telling her sons what they are diagnosed with.
She asked me if she was lying to her kids.
She asked me if that was wrong.
One of her children has autism, another has ad/hd.
My immediate gut reaction was that only she, as their mother, could know the answer to her questions. She knows them better than anyone else does. She knows and understands her situation and theirs far more than anyone else could ever imagine to. Anyone sitting on the outside would be unqualified to tell her whether what she is doing is right or not.
I have been open with my children about their conditions. In many ways, it was a choice that wasn't mine to make. They know when they are struggling in school, they know when they are frustrated, they know when they are suddenly seeing more doctors and talking to more grown ups. They are older, more aware. Our pediatrician was very open with my kids as well, wanting to make sure that everyone was on the same page.
I completely understand the reasons my friend has never told her sons. They were both very young when diagnosed, much younger than my children, too young to have really understood it. At this point, it's just part of who they are and there is nothing new about it. She doesn't want them to feel limited by those conditions. She doesn't want them to be judged by other people. She doesn't want them to feel discouraged because of it, or to use it as a crutch or an excuse for not doing their best. She doesn't want them to think they are different, she doesn't want them to feel like they are different, so she just doesn't tell them. And you know what?
They are thriving.
Like I told her, at some point they will find out, even if she isn't the one to ever tell them. At some point, they will realize that the medications aren't vitamins. At some point, they will figure it out when they get older. She knows this, but wants to protect them for as long as she can.
It's hard to find fault with a mother wanting to protect her children.
She wants to protect them because she is an good mom. She isn't like so many parents, living in denial of their children's conditions, pretending things are all fine, refusing to seek help for them. I can't even begin to tell you how many people I see like that. People who want so badly to believe that everything is fine, or that it's just a phase, or that it's just this classroom environment, or that it's just what he ate yesterday, or that she's just tired. Parents who refuse to open their eyes to the fact that something is going on. People who may not want to admit that whatever is going on with their kids might be the same thing that is going on with them.
God knows that I had a hard time seeing that with my own kids. Those apples don't fall far from the trees, and we don't just pass on our positive genes to them. We pass on our struggles too. Seeking help for them often means admitting there is something going on with us as well.
She hasn't avoided that. She hasn't told herself that everything is okay. She knows it's not just a phase. She has always been proactive in seeking treatment for them, in finding the best school settings for them, in seeking therapy, in using medication when necessary to help them.
The amount of effort this woman puts into her kids is nothing short of amazing, it really is. I've told her more than once that these boys are lucky to have her as their mama.
The most we can ever do as parents is our best. Sometimes that means that we make decisions like the one she has.
I honor her choice, I support her and I am proud to call her my friend.