One month ago I sat at a meeting with various members of our school's special education staff and my husband, discussing the social situation for my son at school, and the possibility of testing him for social disorders. The meeting stemmed from my son's spring conference, where his teacher told us that giraffeboy had "no friends". I asked if it was possible to look into this at the conference, but as I sat at the meeting and listened to the school psychiatrist describe his brief observations of my son, I already knew what they would find, and I wondered again about the difficulty of being a mom during the tough times.
To me, "Mother's Intuition" is that ability that we as mother's have to know there is a problem before anyone else does, or to perceive what our child needs before they tell us. It varies from the basic packing snacks and drinks before we leave the house to stave off our kids hunger (and before you argue that this is common sense, when was the last time your husband packed the kids snacks or beverages when you didn't have to tell him to?) to knowing something is wrong in your gut before someone says something or something happens. It is the second kind that is the tough times, the kind that you know will differentiate your child yet again from what is "normal", the kind that will lead to the revelation that something happened to your child that was bad, or the kind that means you will start on another long journey. What makes this kind hardest is that they come with things you can't "fix" for them, problems not easily solved, and they leave you feeling like an inadequate parent. They leave you with the "what if he'd had a better mom?" kind of questions that none if us like to ask ourselves.
I can distinctly remember the first time that my "Mother's Intuition" resulted in a whirlwind of events and I wondered to myself "what have I done?" My daughter was just over a day old, and as I sat holding her after our last visitors of the day had left the hospital, I remember thinking "something isn't right". The best way to describe it was that she was wheezing. So I called my nurse, and they took her to the nursery to check her out better. Fast forward less than an hour and my full term daughter had been admitted to the NICU. There they hooked her up to a litany of machines, wires everywhere, and her three days in the NICU had begun. Thankfully for us, when all was said and done it was just fluid left in her lungs that didn't get pushed out during birth because she was a c-section baby, and my daughter was just fine. But those three days of waiting for an answer while she endured various tests were some of the scariest days of my life.
There are times in life too where my "Mother's intuition" has failed me. My daughter's diagnosis of marfan syndrome is the one that stands out the most. I wasn't prepared for her positive genetic test, and it hit me hard when we found out. I really had no idea, and I really thought she didn't have it. Even when it comes to this situation with giraffeboy, I always just assumed he'd be the kid whose happy with only a few close friends. It wasn't until he got into kindergarten that I began to really worry there was more to it than that. And even then it took me more than a year to really acknowledge what I'd begun to suspect and push for the testing. So it's definitely not a foul-proof sense for me, or at least I don't always listen to it.
Which brings us back to yesterday. I sat again at a new meeting table with many of the same staff at our school. The results of the month of testing and survey filling-out were back. And the results were what I suspected all along. My son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It doesn't change who he is or how I feel about him. It doesn't change how much I love him. He's still the kid who is so smart, whose smile can make my entire day, who gives spontaneous hugs and kisses, and who will randomly say "I love you mom" to me for no apparent reason. He's high-functioning to be sure, but it's still there. One more challenge he will face. One more road block he'll have to overcome. And I will be there with him every step of the way making sure he's not alone, making sure he knows how much I love him. I don't have all the answers to help him right now, but I will be doing everything I can to get them.
After all, that's what a "mother's intuition"is for. It's the horn that rings in our heads and hearts to warn us that we should prepare for battle. And even if our "enemy" changes every time, being a mother means we'll fight the war no matter how big the problem. We'll fight it until we find a solution, fueled by our best weapon, our unending supply of love.