“What’s on Your Mind, Shari?” That simple question asked by social media each time I log in. Most days I ignore the prompt and post what I came to post and leave. Today, however, that simple question had me staring, stunned, by my reaction as tears spang uncontrollably down my cheeks.
“It goes so fast!” Those words. The ones we hear in the most mundane days, the ones that blur months and sometimes years together as one shmoo of a year/day. The words that held different meaning at different times in my early, naïve days of being a parent. The days prior to, “The day of ‘Nevers,’” when my husband and I were informed of all the things our first born “would never do,” by a physician. Later that week our youngest joined us and we were officially a family of four. It seems forever ago and yet, wasn’t I just helping my oldest learn how to ride a bike last week?
“It goes so fast” takes on new meaning when you have a loved one who is neurodiverse. You start to hear about the cliff (the end of traditional K-12) and falling off said cliff. What will happen to him? Can we ever die? Yes, this is our reality and no, I have not found the fountain of youth and worry what would happen to him if we died earlier than 120. I could veer off the ramp and discuss the state of health care for every single one of us, but I will leave that for another day.
“It goes so fast.” One day you meet your precious, perfect child. The next you read a detailed and painful document relegating your child to missed milestones, unmet goals and a list of monumental recommendations that leave many parents crying in a heap of “what ifs.” And then, you stand up, wipe away your tears and look at the living embodiment of goodness, your precious, perfect child. Perhaps, if you are lucky, you pick up your phone and call that wonderful Speech Therapist you just met, the one who will become your lifeline, one of many such angels you will encounter on this journey. You sob to Debby, while walking through Target with your newborn son (also crying) and you listen to her warm, calm voice say the following, “You need to remember one thing. He is the EXACT same child he was the hour prior to you hearing his diagnosis. That has not changed.” Life changing words from a life changing therapist.
Right! “It goes so fast.” Wasn’t it yesterday I had that conversation with Debby? Or that we embraced our family mantra, “We will get there, in our time, in our way.” Tying shoes? Sure. By the end of middle school, he was a pro. Riding a bike? Check. By the end of elementary school, he was zooming through the neighborhood. Doing his own laundry? A master by High School. We got this! Being kind and loving? He was born this way.
“It goes so fast.” I recall our first IEP, the feeling of panic and dread at reading more reports with data on my perfect boy and his many missed milestones. I remember feeling as if I wanted to crawl into a hole as I read the projections of what my perfect boy would never accomplish. I have a hallow memory of someone asking my husband and I our goals for him. I vividly recall us both saying, “This is one of the kindest, happiest people we know. We want him to learn and grow and our goal is to keep his spirit intact.” 13 years of IEPs are a blur of pushing/pulling heart wrenching reports and one constant theme always remained, that goal. To not break that amazing, warm, kind spirt.
“It goes so fast.” From Initial IEP to Notice of Exit-Summary to today, the last instructional day of high school. I did not once stop to think, they meant that it REALLY goes so fast. . . until today.
Wait! I felt so invincible. I was so naïve. It goes so fast; time is the only thing you cannot get back. Have I been a good enough parent to you? Have I done enough for you, to prepare you for the world? Can I ever express how sorry I am for every single mistake?
“It goes so fast.” “Don’t worry, Mom,” you tell me as you call yourself, with pride, “an adult newbie.” You tell me your hopes and dreams, to go to community college, to live on your own and find someone to love, to get a job. All the things Dad and I said we wanted for you; you are making happen.
“It goes so fast.” I sit in semi-disbelief as you sign up with the Disability Services Department at your soon to be college. I am in awe as you are invited by Cathy, your amazing Case Manager to present to the entire staff of your public high school on your experience in school. When we read the comments from the over 125 attendees, I nearly burst with pride. YOU, my tenacious, perfect child taught the educators in your school about neurodiversity and how they might best serve students in the future. You advocated for yourself and in that act, you paved the way for other students like you.
“It goes so fast.” Your undiminished spirit radiates to all who know you as an undaunted adult who is ready for what comes next. Being your mother has been one of my greatest joys and it is YOU, who has taught ME so much. You brought me back to my center and introduced a village of amazing therapist, teachers, tutors and extended family that have been your and our lifeline.
“It goes so fast.”
Continue to fill your life with love and know you are loved.
Whoever first said, “it goes so fast,” was not kidding, it absolutely does.
Wow, I just had me a good cry! It’s been a long road traveled with many many miles still to go. But, I have no doubt the future is bright for your amazing boy. Life does go by fast. So fast. But you’ve kept your eyes open and your heart full – that’s perfect!! I love you all.
Thank you, Deb!
Shari, this piece is very beautiful and powerful. i love that you address Elijah directly. Feeling you and Vin and Elijah in my tears and in my heart. He IS the needed human for this planet because he elmbodies compassion. He is beautiful in his face and in his soul. Bless you dear Elijah. You are a much needed Newbie Adult. 🙏🏼😍. Aunt Laney
Thank you, Aunt Laney!
This is amazing!! What a beautiful tribute to that an amazing young man you have raised. 🙂
Thank you so much, Selam!
Such a wonderful tribute to such a wonderful person. You, your family and this special guy have so very much to be proud of! All of you are part of this success
Thank you, Evan!
Wow! Love this. Hooray Elijah, hooray Mom Dad and Nate for helping Elijah be who he is today.❤️❤️
Thank you so much 🙂
Shari, I don’t know you but I do know your mom, and I am not surprised at your spirit, love and incredibly hard work to get Elijah to where he is today.
may he continue to thrive and surprise you with his new found abilities.
Thank you, Joy!
Crying over here! Beautifully written, proud momma! Congratulations!
Right back to you, Megan and thank you!
Shari, this is so beautiful. So personal and so universal some of these feelings we share as parents. Your love and commitment to Eli shine through him in his strength and independence. I’m so excited for what comes next. I love you all so much.
Thank you, Lena. You are correct there are so many universals for parents as we watch our children become adults. Sending love back to you all.
Your beautiful words as you reflect on your journey as Elijah’s mother are truly universal for us all — it does go so fast! But your extraordinary efforts to give Elijah the support to grow into early adulthood with such a caring and radiating spirit have been so moving to watch. We send our loving wishes at this milestone of Elijah’s graduation, and all the best as you all embark on the next stage of the journey! XOXO Karen and Mel
Thank you, Karen and Mel!
Wow, hard to write with tears blurring my vision. Your testimony is so important to all the families just beginning this journey. There is always hope and cause for celebration! E is the embodiment of strength and perseverance, always nurtured and guided with the love of you, Vinnie and N. Congrats Mama, job well done! Big love to you all!
Thank you so much, Erin.
I am trying my best to follow Mike and your lead. Sending gratitude to all the advocates from whom I continue to learn and am lucky to have as friends.