Friday, March 13, 2009

Dear Robin, 24 December 2007

24 December 2007
Dear Robin,
I know you're having a bad day today. A really, really bad day. I know it's one of a long series of bad days, of self-doubt and recrimination and questioning. Days of wondering if there is in fact any light at the end of your tunnel or if it just keeps going on forever, never getting any brighter. I know you're afraid of the challenges Maya faces, the challenges that you face as her mother. Afraid for her. I know about the worries for her future, the fears. I know. I know that cold tentacle of fear that is slowly strangling you.
I wish I had a way to reach back to you. To reassure you. To let you know that the road ahead is long, and I won't fool you, it's got its own twists and turns and it isn't an easy path, not for you and especially not for Maya, but that just a year later things will already look very different from how they appear today, with every sign that things will just keep getting better and better.
Maya will spend the next year working her ass off. She will have speech therapy, and occupational therapy (that one is a story for another day), and weekly sessions with a developmental psychologist, and she will attend a special communications kindergarten where she will be in a class of just eleven children and where she will also receive twice weekly speech therapy (in addition to the weekly afternoon session she already has), occupational therapy, and art therapy. She will learn songs from the music teacher and sports from the gym teacher. She'll have a wonderful classroom teacher and aide. All of these people, and you and Jay, will help her break free from her shell and struggle, hard, to become the Maya still hidden deep inside right now.
This is Maya today, just 14.5 months later, mugging for the camera as she bakes chocolate chip cookies with her dad. She's quite a ham your Maya. She loves to perform - she sings, she dances, she poses for endless photos. Heck, she begs to have her picture taken. She was moved to the very front row for her recital because she did her routine so beautifully. She goes skipping off to visit the neighbors when she wants a little treat (yes, the neighbor is still giving your children way too much chocolate, but at least she's learned to make them ask you if it's okay first, and you know she does it out of love), she makes up games and plays pretend, she loves princesses and fairies. She befriends other children in the playground and goes off to have adventures with them, yesterday she was even leading them on a hunt for an imaginary treasure box buried in the sand. This from the girl the experts just told you might never achieve symbolic play or be interested in other children.
She comes home from school each day with stories of what she's done, actual real stories. She even tattles on other children who've misbehaved and has learned to tell children who are bothering her "you don't bug me - I'm not paying any attention to you!" and then to get up and walk away. She draws pictures and makes cards for her friends, which she writes herself (with a grownup helping with the spelling). She talks, and she listens. And if she wants something she can't have she's (eventually, she's still five after all) willing to bend or negotiate to reach a compromise.
She's extraordinary your Miss Mouse. It's been only a year, but in all honesty if she didn't still look like the same golden imp she was before you wouldn't recognize her. She's incredible. She glows. She's comfortable in her own skin now, and happy, and it shows. She's completely changed, it's like she's a different child. It's like she's the child she was meant to be, the one that was hidden inside all this time looking for a way out. The child who spent Independence Day cowering in a corner didn't even flinch at all the firecrackers that kept going off outside in the runup to Purim, though she did say that she preferred the pretty colors of fireworks to the empty noise of firecrackers. Specifically she prefers the gold colored fireworks.
Some things still won't come as easily to her as they would to another child, some other things may never come easily, but she is learning and growing and changing each day.
And look closely - she's even wearing a blue shirt, one that she picked out herself (because yes, I actually dared take her shopping - at a crowded outdoor night market!). The girl who wore pink every single day for nearly two years is wearing a blue shirt today.
Hang in there Robin. It's going to be a long, hard ride, and it isn't over yet, but the view out my window is glorious.
Robin, March 2009
I haven't scribbled for months, but this one finally woke up my long dormant writing muse. Who knows, perhaps she'll stick around for a while. I hope so, she's been missed.
For a completely different take on this prompt, here is the post I did back in August 2007 for the Sunday Scribblings prompt "Dear Diary".


Understanding Alice said...

Thank you for sharing what, for past you, was a real though time.

Your story is an inspiration.

Janet said...

You must be so thrilled for both these things :-)

Anonymous said...

Robin..I didn't know you had a special child.Of course every child is special, some of more special than others. It's good to trust your own instincts more than the 'professionals' and I say that as a special education teacher and the parent of a once special needs child.

My daughter had different problems, but we too had to find all the special services and we worked hard at proving that she needed them.

An incorrectly diagnosed medical condition kept my daughter out of school from grades 6-11. When she was a junior we found a doctor who correctly diagnosed and put her on the right meds.

We were told that she might never graduate from high school or at one point be out of bed..but she worked hard.

This child is now a clinical psychologist who wants to help others.

Your story made me cry.. Michelle

anymommy said...

This is incredible. I love the idea of writing back to yourself and I love taking stock of how far you've come together.

Anonymous said...

Oh Robin. I'm so happy for you. I know what hell this last year was for you and I'm just so happy that Maya has made such improvements. Jealous as all get out, too, since we're STILL trying to figure out A. Oh, Maya, if you only knew what a wonderful mama you have. Congrats, hon. :)

Granny Smith said...

What a wonderful loving story! Glad to have you back. Keep us posted!

josie2shoes said...

This story just brought tears to my eyes! As mothers we all face doubts of wether we are up to the job and we second guess ourselves at every turn in the road. I love how you are able to look back to a time not all that long ago and see what miracles have taken place in Mayas life and yours. And there is so much good yet to come! Maybe we all need to take a look back now and then, thank you for the wonderful reminder. This was a wonderful, uplifting post!!!

GreenishLady said...

What a marvellous portrait of your treasure-child and the journey she (and you) have travelled! I'm so glad you chose today to return to scribbling!

Libby's Library said...

I'm so glad that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Sometimes dealing with our "special" children, can be the most rewarding experience of our lives.

I just noticed that you have a "button". I'm going to grab it and put it on my sidebar. How do all you talented folk learn to make them?

Robin said...

I didn't make it - Sara did when she did my blog redesign :-). I don't have the faintest idea how to do it.

Daryl said...

I didnt know .. gotta say you and Jay seem terrific parents and Maya .. well it looks like she's doing very well .. xox

Lucy said...

have missed you Robin! Loved this very loving tale.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Like Anymommy, I too love your letter to yourself. There are many days when I wish I could have a letter like that from a future self, telling me everything will work out after all. Some days it's so hard to keep repeating, 'It'll be okay' to someone who is suffering and will suffer again in the future. But I'll remember your letter to yourself when I'm having one of those days.

I'm SO glad Maya is having blue shirt days!

Flea said...

Well hoorah. It's so good to see a success story in action. So good to see a mom in her daughter's court, fighting hard. Kudos to you both!

RivkA with a capital A said...

Fantastic!! You must be sooo happy!!

One cautionary warning -- as you know, my child also blossomed that year in the special gan. This child did so well, that in first grade, the school denied the child extra help (which is against the law, but never mind that). We paid dearly for that poor, short sighted decision.

Don't take any of these advances for granted. Make sure that your daughter gets the help she needs (and the school is required by law to provide) so that she continues to grow and flourish!

Robin said...

I do remember RivkA, and will make sure. In M's case she's going to do a second year of kindergarten first (most likely in a regular classroom, that's the recommendation, but the hearing isn't until next month). Her birthday is in October, so she's already legally entitled to a second year of kindergarten, and given everything else we'd all be crazy not to have her utilize it. Hopefully having one more interim year before she hits elementary school will really help her find her feet.

TJ said...

You are so right in reinforcing past you to look to the future...all the answers lay ahead and nobody really knows!
A tuff journey you are on with many blessing to be counted.
Very wonderful writing and pictures..thanks for sharing.

TJ said...

Very wise advice. Did you follow it?

Love your blog template by the way.

Thank you!

I am trying...TJ

Anonymous said...

What a journey! I think we would all love to go back and encourage our past selves to keep going against the odds and tell them that the struggle is worth it. How much more so for you, with young Maya!

That was quite moving.

Anonymous said...

Robin what can I say? Such tender and moving words.A beautiful piece.

Mojo said...

I didn't know you in December of '07, so I had no clue Maya as anything other than a happy, sometimes precocious, independent and completely wonderful child. You've apparently (for those of us who came in late) done a remarkable job bringing what was trapped inside to the surface. man mera gaiye (my heart sings).

Tammy Brierly said...

Welcome back! Thank you for sharing a big part of your life. Maya is one lucky little girl to have you and you her. Blessings

Anonymous said...

It is a blessing to see that Maya is doing so well these days. I've worried for Robin, as she has carried the burden of being all things to all people. Now, I wonder what you would write to the future Robin...

Nalini Prasanna said...

Robin, such an awesome thought of writing to yourself!! SO happy for Maya and you :)

Jientje said...

This touches me more than you can imagine. Somehow I must have missed those previous posts, but I've read them now. I had no idea.
I think you are doing great with her. Hang in there. Hugs xxx

Tricia said...

Oh this makes my heart sing, Robin! When you seemed so desperate last year, I was going through very similar struggles with Victoria who was just born a mere day after Maya. I could have written what you wrote a year ago and I could have written that letter today. Amazing!
If only we had the advantage of seeing what it looks like on the other side all the time. I think there would be so much less worry and so much more living in the moment.

Felisol said...

Dear Robin,
my heart sings along with Mojo and all the others.
It's such an overwhelmingly strong story about the mother believing more in her child than in the sinister prophesies of the professionals.
The human mind and human love are stronger than science can possibly measure or imagine.
I praise God for Maya and her mother.
From Felisol

Shannon said...

You know that you and Maya always touch my heart. She is a glorious child with the most beautiful mother.

I'm glad your muse has returned because her work moves me.

linda may said...

Love to you and yours.
Good to have you back in here.