Friday, July 12, 2013

Evaluation: Making the Choice

We have chosen to have Raccoon evaluated. We've known for awhile that he's quirky - which is okay with us - but at times I see it affecting his ability to enjoy his life, which is not okay. It was not an easy choice, but it has been made and I go to the initial appointment next week. I was teetering between do it or not, but what pushed me into the yes camp was the experiences of several other moms. They wrote of wishing they had pursued an evaluation when their child was 3 or 4, instead of learning at 7 or 8 that there had been a problem all along. Another mom also encouraged me not to fear him getting a label, but to view it as a way to get access to helpful services.

So with the decision came 11 pages of paperwork that I had to complete. When I first looked at the forms, it seemed overwhelming. Do you remember when your child first responded to his/her name? Me... not so much. I do remember the first time he said his own name. It also seemed invasive: What are your sleeping arrangements? How do you discipline your child? My mommy guilt kicked in and I wondered if I was a better mom, would I still be filling out that form.

I realized that I'd received a secret message of my own from my family of origin, "Asking for help is a form of failure. You should be able to figure everything out on your own." I'm sure my parents never intended to pass this along, but I burdened myself with it at some point. After some heart-to-hearts with Jesus, I rephrased it into, "It's okay to ask for help." This was incredibly freeing. I don't have to have all the answers.

But I still let the forms sit there unfilled.

There was something else holding me back. I felt like the forms were a test and some of my answers were going to be wrong. I felt that I must have done something wrong, obviously, since I am in this predicament of not knowing how to help my child. "Ah," I imagine the doctor saying, "You co-sleep. That's the problem right there. If only you'd made a different choice, he'd be fine. See what you've done?" There it was, the feeling that somehow I did this to him, made him angry and anxious and scared of people. Is this all my fault?

I put the forms away. Maybe we would not have him evaluated after all.

Over the next few weeks (yes, I had the forms that long), I looked back at some of the parenting choices I've made and I had another revelation. Raccoon is not the first child I've parented, so I have more perspective about the things that really matter to me. I co-slept with SB too, and I don't regret any of those nights that I held her close. But I also don't judge those who have made different choices. Where everyone sleeps isn't a measure of more or less love.

Concerning Raccoon, I accept the choices I've made and my family's story, flaws and all. I've made plenty of mistakes with him, but I do know that there has been love every moment. If the tester has questions, I don't mind. I'm not afraid anymore of being myself and embracing the failures as well.

The forms are in the mail.

Illustration by me

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