A Lonely Education

On raising a child with non-verbal learning disability.

NLD and Me: No Apologies

Do you realize how much energy it takes to apologize?

shame on you
I have been apologizing since my son was born-before I ever knew what NLD was or how it would impact the rest of my life. I have felt guilty and inadequate as a parent. I have made excuse after excuse, justifying Indigo's actions, personality, learning style. I have made countless apologies.

Apologies to:

 

  • Midwives for my youth: I'm only 19 ½, but I'm in college.
  • Doctors for Indigo's infant weight loss: He had a hard time latching on.
  • Nutritionists for Indigo's baby obesity: He's a chubby toddler, but he almost died when he was born.
  • Store clerks for Indigo's tantrums: I don't know what's wrong.
  • Neighborhood moms: Indigo doesn't understand the game. Can they try explaining the rules again?
  • Preschool teachers because Indigo played by himself: He's an only child.
  • Elementary/middle school administration for not medicating Indigo: But every kid in the world is on meds.
  • Friends for Indigo's extreme phobia: We can't come over. Indigo's afraid of your dog.
  • Family for Indigo's consistent hugs and kisses: He hugs me at least twenty times before breakfast.

I have apologized for Indigo's inability to read, write or comprehend multitask directions; loving people too much, not respecting boundaries; over-excitability; incessant talking...

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And then, I have apologized to Indigo for everyone else.

  • I'm sorry that they have a dog.
  • I'm sorry I took you to see the scary Easter Bunny.
  • I'm sorry those kids were mean to you today.
  • I'm sorry the teacher yelled at you.

I'm sorry
But the one person I forget to apologize to is me. I forget to tell myself:

  • I'm sorry you had a rough night getting Indigo settled into bed.
  • I'm sorry you had to cancel girls' night out because you couldn't find a sitter who could handle Indigo's hyperactivity and lack of personal boundaries.
  • I'm sorry you can't be friends with So In So because she refuses to put her pets away so Indigo can visit anxiety-free.
  • And I'm sorry that some days seem unbearable and hopeless.

Exhausted yet? Apologizing sucks the life out of me.

It took me a long time to realize I shouldn't apologize for Indigo and my parenting style. Took me a long time to realize it wasn't my responsibility to make other people feel comfortable. To realize Indigo's nuances are not a bad thing; they are part of who he is. Took me a long time to accept our time-consuming schedules, limitations, and needed accommodations.

NLD is an everyday part of our lives. Everything we do must include NLD as a factor.

Still, every now and then, I become overwhelmed. On these days, NLD is not just a part of our lives; it is all consuming. Times like this tell me I must step back from it all, take a break, live life and forget my NLD responsibilities.

  • Homework gets forgotten or incomplete. It's okay.
  • Bedrooms become disorganized and messy. So what?
  • Gloves, snowboarding helmets, iPods get lost. They are replaceable.
  • Blogs do not get written; emails don't get answered. Nobody's perfect.

I have learned to put my energy where it matters. People who don't understand have been eliminated from our lives. I do not accept intolerance. I do what I can to educate others and assist parents who struggle with their children's education. Yet, I make sure my son's needs and my needs take priority.

No apologies.

© Sera Rivers

Sera Rivers is a writer, journalist, and mother of a teenage boy with nonverbal learning disability.

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