I did not have a candidate in this election. Not from the beginning. Not in either major political party, and not in any of the 3rd party options. So I was never going to feel “great” waking up on this day. What I do feel is confused, and concerned, and a little bit sad. Because while I did not have a candidate in this election, there is no world in which I would have ever made a choice that a slim majority of our country did make yesterday. But this isn’t about me and my feelings, this is about my children and what they can learn from where we do find ourselves today.
We are privileged to live in a country where there is a democratic process. That process may not be perfect, and we will not always agree with the outcome, but there are people all over the world who don’t even get a voice. We may not understand how we got here. We may not agree with the outcome. But it happened, and as in anything it is not the circumstance that defines us, it is how we choose to respond to the circumstance that shows the world who we are.
So how do we respond?
We respond with grace and respect.
Each and every day, I tell my kids to go out into the world being the best version of themselves and to do good all the good they can. Each and every day that is what I tell them. What happened in the election does not change that, if anything it makes it more important.
We live with grace and respect. For all people. In all situations. That was true yesterday. That is true today. That is an eternal truth.
We live with grace and respect, and we move forward. And we show the world who we are.
These are the lessons I have learned since deciding rip off the bandaid to share both my son’s diagnoses, and our family’s journey, with the world.
- A “label” isn’t always a bad thing – We spent a long time not wanting to “label” our son, and therefore were not straightforward with him, ourselves or others. This came from a place of trying to protect him from the big, bad world, but in the end actually made him (and us) more vulnerable. The day we sat him down and for the first time had a conversation that included the words autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and medication, was actually a good day. We gave our son the words to begin to understand and talk about what he is struggling through. There is both both knowledge and comfort in the labels.
- We are not alone – In the first minutes of linking this blog to my Facebook page, I received private messages from 6 different people talking about their own, or their child’s, experiences with anxiety, panic, depression, sensory processing, and autism spectrum disorders. Within minutes I went from feeling like my world was very small, to realizing that my world was big, and wide, and there are loving arms to hold us up when the burden seems too great. There have also been people who my son admires deeply, who have come to me with their own stories of struggle. Being able to share those stories with my son, along with the knowledge that these are adults who both care about him and can understand what he is experiencing has made parts of his world a little less frightening.
- Being honest, doesn’t guarantee universal understanding – Most people have been amazing, supportive, and understanding. Most, but not all. I have come across skeptics and naysayers. These are the people who even after hearing the diagnoses, still say “but he seems fine,” or “are you sure?”, or “he’s just going through a phase.” No, no, and NO! I am thankful that the amazing, supportive, and understanding people far outnumber the skeptics and naysayers.
Ripping off that band aid was hard. But we did it. It stung a little, but mostly there has been fresh air. And there is so much healing to be found on the other side.