Most of my life, especially in my adult life, I have resisted the idea of labels. I felt they placed people in a box and the concept of boxing anyone in didn’t quite resonate or feel good in my bones. Intuitively I knew we were all unique and our experiences were unique and being open to others ideas, experiences meant deeper growth and a life of possibility. I feared the limited-ness and the feeling of being controlled and my free spirit ached for the freedom beyond boundaries.
Yet, even at almost 41 years old, as I continue to seek (and drift) and expand without a desire to associate myself with any one way of being, labels continue to come into my path. They continue to be my teacher. My vessel of messages my soul needs. Full of nuggets of wisdom. There is always a process of surrender while trying to sort out my own freedom within these labels and our societies preconceived ideas of them: Celiac, Christian, Infertile, Endometriosis, Dread Head, Empath, Wanderer, Adoptive Parent, Free Spirit, etc. There becomes this dance between intuiting my way through life and surrendering to needing guidance and help, knowing I cannot always do it alone. I suppose labels happen for a reason. They provide direction when we feel lost. They provide teaching when we are needing to be a student. They provide council when we are confused. They provide an opportunity to go within and find our own true voices in the midst of a choir.
This is what my husband and I are moving through with Cedar. A label. A diagnosis. Our resistance to this label. Our relief upon the awareness of this label. Our confusion. Our clarity. Our “aha…this makes sense”. Our fears. Our projections. A sudden awareness of our expectations of Cedar. Releasing those expectations. Our surrendering to needing help and guidance. Our tears. Or more like…sobs. Our awakening of being chosen to parent him. Our confidence. Our lack of confidence. Our free spirits so deeply wanting to intuit everything he needs. Our surrendering to the fact that we cannot intuit his needs every moment, especially when we are learning his brain and every cell in his body receives information different than ours.
Asperger’s Syndrome. High functioning Autism. Low Spectrum. Sensory Processing Disorder.
Suddenly, I felt faced with how to share this with others. What gave me courage is that we are one in billions of parents that are faced with labels for their children and not a lot of people know how to navigate through it all. It can feel isolating and lonely and full of so many fears. Sometimes our fear of labels can paralyze us from giving our child what they truly need.
We are in the beginning of it all. That first awareness and overwhelm. Trying to live moment by moment and center ourselves and not allow the many opinions that may come our way to divert us from our own intuition and trust as Cedar’s parents . Even the opinions to not label him. Which me, more than anyone, understands so deeply.
But I keep going back to that first moment when I heard the label and how my heart felt relief and a weight lifted and tears poured because I have always known down deep that there was something, something I couldn’t grasp or understand about my precious son. I knew that most times his behavior or sensitivities came from a place that went beyond my empathy or intuition as a mama to a toddler figuring out his way in this world. There has been completely messy moments for him and me. Moments where I felt he was judged or I was judged and I have had to be his only advocate in a room. The idea that I could now help myself and others understand him better, so that Cedar will have room to BE and feel safe being, offered me so much peace.
I know my son cannot be boxed in. I also know that just as I did not allow myself to be controlled or defined by any one label, I, we will raise Cedar to not be defined or controlled by any label. We will also raise him to not attach any shame to any of this as there is no shame in it. Just as I felt there was no shame in my fertility journey and sharing it out loud here on my blog has helped hundreds, if not thousands of women and men not feel alone.
As much as we go down the list of Asperger qualities and nod our head, not all of them apply to him. So we are on a journey. And this journey is all about helping him feel as safe and secure as he can when he is overwhelmed. Being married to a librarian, you better believe we have stacks of books on the subject. But we also put them aside at times, take deep breaths and not allow it to consume us or steer us away from our own intuition and free spirits. Those moments where we just hold space for him and release the need to know all the answers or strategies in that moment and to just surrender to the not knowing and what comes so easily for us, which is loving him with our whole hearts unconditionally.
I have more to share about our process over the last few months and our choice to approach this holistically with a grain free diet, particular vitamins and minerals and tools for sensory overwhelm. We are meeting with an OT this month, have had appointments with a naturopath and phone appointments with a gentle and wise woman sent to me by a dear friend. This woman has become my life line.
In this moment, we are surrendering to the not knowing. Surrendering to the uncertainty of whether or not to embrace this label fully. Surrendering to the relief we feel when we can make sense of why he does what he does. Surrendering to the frustration we feel when we can’t make sense of any of this.
Just surrendering. Isn’t that just what all parents have to do?