After Moe's diagnosis, I couldn't help but imagine the future. When we received the news from our developmental pediatrician, she asked if we had any questions. Through tears, all I could say was that I just wanted him to be okay. I imagined all of the difficulties that he would have in school and wondered if he would have friends, go to prom or attend college. We had to make decisions about the type of services he would receive, but without a crystal ball it was impossible to know that the choices we made would be the right ones. When I tried to take it all in, at best it was overwhelming; at worst, it was panic-inducing. All of my hopes and dreams for my sweet boy were disappearing before my very eyes.
The most common piece of advice I received at the time was to take it one day at a time. We had no idea what Moe would be like in 1, 5 or 20 years, so it didn't help to worry about it. This works for a while. Certainly, taking things one day at a time helped keep those overwhelming feelings at bay. It allowed me to revel in the triumphs of the day without worrying about how he compared to the other kids his age. On really challenging days, I knew that the day would soon be over and that tomorrow would be another day. I didn't have to solve everything - just make it to bedtime.
As part of my participation with the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, I recently read the book, "I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced." It is the true story of a little girl, married off to a man three times her age. She is pulled out of school, taken to live far from her parents, beaten and sexually abused. But against all odds, she escapes and makes her way to the courthouse where she finds the courage to ask for a divorce. With the help of sympathetic judges and a lawyer who agrees to take her case, she is successful, making history and paving the way for other young girls who find themselves in similarly horrible situations. Life continues to be tough for Nujood, but she has dreams of becoming a lawyer so she can help others the way one inspirational lawyer helped her.
This got me thinking about the other piece of advice I received after Moe's diagnosis: have hope. People reminded me that there is no single trajectory for kids on the spectrum. Many learn to cope so well they "lose" the diagnosis, while others continue to have more obvious challenges their entire lives. But we just don't know. And as I've written about before, there is no reason to write off Moe's entire future just because he's having challenges at age two. But isn't hope the opposite of one day at a time? What is hope if not the ability to look forward in time and imagine another reality?
Our lives could not be more different, but Nujood's story reminded me of the power of hope through adversity. If Nujood had taken things one day at a time, where would she be now? Without the ability to imagine a brighter and better future, what reason would she have to try to change her situation, to "climb mountains to keep from finding myself...alone against that monster?"
Sometimes I still need one day at a time. One day at a time is for "those" days. It is about survival. But hope is about the future. It is about dreams and possibilities, and it is about action. I've never been very good at one day a time, anyway. I think I'll choose hope.
The book, "I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced," was sent to me free of charge by the publisher as part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group Book Club.