Last night, while everyone else in the world tuned into the debate, I laid in a dark room, nursing my migraine hangover and reading past blog posts. As I read the posts about Elliot's diagnosis and the countless ones that referred to our sleepless nights, I breathed a sigh of relief. I remember those dark days. They were not good. I would struggle to breathe, I would cry in an instant, and I felt hopeless. Each night and day, I would beg Heavenly Father for equilibrium, a place in time where I could feel at ease, where NLD would be old news, and where my family would be thriving in spite of it. Like most prayers, this one did not get answered right away, and I cannot pinpoint exactly when it was answered, but it was. We are here now.
I can now say NLD without tears and without my chest constricting. In fact, most days, I do not even think about it. When Elliot has one of his "moments", I can laugh it off and see it for what it is, a moment. That's all. When I think of his future, I no longer see the text book, worst case scenarios, I see Elliot, with all his strengths and his flaws. I see a life filled with imperfect possibilities, like everyone else's, and I see a life surrounded by those who love him. Elliot always talks about his future wife and kids, and I know with all of my heart he will have them someday.
Elliot is at peace. He has a routine. He has security. He has purpose. He has dreams.
Sure, he still talks a mile a minute, non-stop, all day long and about absolutely nothing. Sure, there are times he does not sleep and times when his worries seem too large to overcome. Sure, he does socially inappropriate things at inappropriate times, but that's who he is. These are his quirks, and I have yet to meet anyone interesting, or even remotely worth knowing, without quirks!
But, reaching this plateau does not mean I have all the answers. In fact, I still make mistakes, a lot of mistakes! There are times when I expect too much of Elliot or push him further than he can handle. For instance, a few weeks ago, we were at our friend's wedding. The reception was long and we were packed in a tiny restaurant with lots of people. I was too busy catching up with old friends and enjoying myself to notice that Elliot was slowly coming undone. After ignoring his pleas to go home for quite sometime, Elliot in exasperation, came up to me and began pulling at his hair, screaming: "I need to get out of this place!" It worked. I listened. We compromised. Elliot was sent to nanny and grampy's, while the rest of us stayed and enjoyed our evening. Everyone was happy.
There are also times, when I assume Elliot understands social nuances and picks up on social cues, but this is never the case. For instance, this summer his friends would greet each other on the soccer field by saying "Hey, ya wanna go?" and would playfully push one another around. They would laugh, brush it off, and move onto the next thing. No big deal, right? I didn't think so until Elliot did it to a kid not on the soccer field and to someone he barely knew. We were meeting a group of friends at the zoo for a home school field trip. Elliot jumped out of the car, nervous but excited to be with everyone again. In an attempt to overcome his awkwardness, Elliot rushed over to a boy whom he had met once before. Instead of saying "Hi!" or asking "How are you?", Elliot puffed up his chest, gently pushed the kid with his shoulder and said: "Hey, ya' wanna go?" The kid looked at him strangely and walked away. I was mortified, but then it occurred to me Elliot had no idea what he was doing. He was simply repeating the actions of his friends in the hopes it would have the same result. We push, we laugh, and then we play. Elliot had learnt that this was an acceptable greeting amongst his close friends on the soccer field; therefore, he figured it would work everywhere else. I pulled Elliot over to me and explained what had happened. He was shocked! He did not realise that "Ya' wanna go?" meant you were asking someone to fight. Luckily, the rest of the day went much better. He played with all the kids and, since our brief lesson, he has turned his back on the thug routine. Moments like this one awaken me to just how tricky the teenage years are going to be for Elliot, but thankfully, he has lots of friends and he is so likable that many of them just brush off his quirkiness!
Life with Elliot brings new challenges and new circumstances to figure out each day, but I no longer worry about them. I no longer fret about his future, and I no longer exhaust myself poring over books in search of all the answers. I simply enjoy Elliot. I accept him for who he is, and I love him! We play, we learn, we yell, we cry, we laugh, we fight, we hug and each day, we try a little harder because that's what a family does, especially a family living and thriving with NLD.