It's been a rough stretch of time for me and my family. My son Liam has been having a lot of trouble with school. He hates it, and is having a lot of anxiety around school. He often refuses to go and has a lot of trouble staying all day.
When we do get him there, his teachers and other staff say that he seems happy and does well. Liam participates in class, plays with his friends at recess and gets on with the day, which, of course, is confusing because he says he hates it so much. He is incredibly smart and gets good grades with little effort. Meaning, he is not having trouble academically. That said, he is now falling a bit behind with his work as he has missed so many days, and I have had to pull him out early nearly everyday just so I can get him to go. I have even spent a good week or more attending school with Liam just to get him through the school doors in an attempt to get into a rhythm. It's been very trying to say the least and has thrown the whole family off.
We have looked into other schools and even spent a day at couple schools checking things out. We did find a school Liam liked but they cannot take him in until 4th grade, which is really unfortunate and baffling. At another school we checked out, they had 32 kids and it was noisy and overwhelming to say the least. Liam felt the same and decided he wanted to stay where he is at and finish out the year with his friends. He shared with me that he didn't feel ready to leave his friends. And you would think that having his friends in his class with him would be enough to get him to school and enjoy school, but it's not.
I can't blame him for not loving school. It is all work and very little play and a whole lot of demand to get the work done. I can at least understand and empathize with why he doesn't want to go.At this point in the school year, though, we are at a loss to do anything else. And we have to stick it out now so that he does not have to repeat 3rd grade.
What is underlying all this is a Sensory Processing issue. Getting an appointment for an Occupational Therapy evaluation has been a long, drawn out process. We are finally scheduled for March 30th for our evaluation. And weekly, for the last several months, we have been seeing an amazing family therapist who has been helping us find answers to our many questions and concerns and helping us find our way forward through this all. She has been the best. And she is the one who noticed that we are dealing with something called Sensory Processing Disorder as well as a serious separation anxiety issue. At least we are getting somewhere so that in itself offers some hope and relief.
On the hard days,which happen several times weekly, I cry and feel stressed, sad and frustrated. After I've cried, gone for a walk, practiced a little yoga, or written in my journal, I feel better. I dry my eyes and begin again. Of course, the questions of why this is going on and what can I/we do to make things better are always there. I guess this is just me trying to figure things out.
Recently, I came to notice that getting Liam to go to school or just to get socks and shoes on felt like a constant battle and brought about a lot of frustration for all of us. And what I realized is that I have to let go of things feeling like that. Sure this is hard and feels like a lot of effort, and, well, it is. That said, if I can just be in the flow of it, if I can just let it be what it is while still working to encourage something better, it becomes way less hard for us all.
It's a big learning process for sure. We don't have it worked out yet, but each day we work toward finding better ways to help Liam and Lila stay balanced and to keep their brain and nervous system in check. Really, all my energy and time is going to my family in an effort to create more harmony and peace. With that, it leaves me little time, energy, or desire to do much else. And that's just how it is right now.
Last week, when I was having a particularly hard day and feeling the weight and frustration of this all, I read an essay on Santosa (contentment or acceptance) in Rolf Gate's new book, "Meditations on Intention and Being," that really hit home for me. Here is the essay...
..."Maybe contentment is the key to life?" The willingness to work with things as they are feels like the start of everything. Can we be content to work with the family that we have, the health that we have, the time that we have, the body that we have, the mental and emotional state that we are in, the money that we have, the challenges that we have, the moment that we are in? This feels like the ultimate skill, to see the opportunity in whatever the moment brings and to begin there.
Yoga would say that you don't have to be perfect at it to get started. It helps to reflect on how many times you have thought a situation was all bad only to discover numerous opportunities and blessings within that same situation. It also helps to reflect on the rational observation that we have no other choice than to work with things as they are, so we might as well get good at it. I find inspiration whenever I remember all of the leaders through the ages who found themselves in an impossible situation and whose to create something positive anyway. However we arrive at it, santosa offers us the opportunity to take what is and to create something beautiful with it."
And for me, this essay was the reminder that I needed to just stay the course. Everyday is a living breathing teaching on how to live life well no matter the circumstances and situation. We can get bogged down in all that is not to our liking, or to our preference, or we can drop some of that weight and carry a lighter load. We can learn the art and skill of embracing life as it is and practice living one moment at a time. It's a practice. And like anything else we desire to be good at, we just have to keep at it. I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who is quoted as saying something like: skill to do comes from doing. I think there is a lot of truth in those words.
Everyday is yet another opportunity to learn how to get good at living life, eliminating unnecessary stress, and learning how to live life in a more flowing and effortless way. Meaning, we let go of adding more resistance to what is already hard, and we learn to ride the easier waves with more joy and appreciation. Everyday we just learn to work with what is, as it is. This is the ultimate practice and skill for sure.
May peace and contentment be yours.