“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.
Ten years ago, I finished high school.
I was eighteen, and full of dreams and possibilities. No restrictions other than what was I going to wear that day.
I was thinking about going to Dundee uni after the summer holidays. I had a job working at a local shop, where I was usually on with my friends. We were all at that point of just finishing school. On the cusp of adulthood.
We could go out to pubs, we could go wherever we wanted. We had the freedom to dream about the life we were going to have.
Back then, there’s no way I could possibly have imagined the life I’d be leading now.
I had accepted my unconditional. I knew where I was going. I knew I was going to do my BSc in psychology. Then I was going to do my masters and become a child psychologist.
I guess I didn’t realise just how much the two years of lectures I attended before having Zack was going to help me.
In second year, I decided I wanted to change from doing psychology, to pharmacology and physiology.
The whole reason I’d chosen the BSc rather than the MA was so I could carry on my sciences.
I didn’t realise then how much those lectures would come in handy either. Especially those on anti-depressants. Like the two hour lecture I had on SSRI’s the day after I had been diagnosed with depression and had been prescribed a… you guessed it… SSRI.
I didn’t realise how stubborn and judgemental I was.
How insecure I was, despite having the façade of being anything but. That’s something I’m only just coming to terms and dealing with now.
I certainly didn’t expect to meet the “love of my life”, settle down and have two children by the time I was 23.
Then I dreamt of us, as a family, growing together, having a full life together.
I didn’t expect to be dumped, along with my beautiful boys, for “the start of something new”.
So by 25 I was a separated single mother of two boys.
Fine, I can deal with that, I figured.
Though Max wasn’t right.
He was 20 months and not a word from him.
This wasn’t right.
Maybe he couldn’t hear?
So tests began.
Within a week of us moving from Dundee through to Crieff, Perthshire, Max had his hearing test.
By that point I already realised that it wasn’t a lack of hearing.
He could hear a crisp packet rustling from the other room!
Thanks to Zack’s amazing progress, I tried to presume that he was just behind. Zack had been so ahead with his language, after all. And it’s different with a second child. You have to divide that attention, instead of showering all of it on the one, like you get to with your first.
But I knew. Partly from research online, partly from what I’d learned while studying child psychology and milestones, partly from my own instinct.
I had autism on the cards from then, really. From 20 months, I knew deep down that’s what it was.
It wasn’t until a year later that I really came to terms with it.
And it wasn’t until he was 3 and a half that the “official” diagnosis came.
But we were getting help.
So it’s all good.
The life I’d imagine for us now?
For Max to be able to talk and converse with us.
For us to be secure in where we live, with a three bedroom house and a garden.
Like where we are now, but an extra room, basically.
For us to all have our health, which we mostly do.
To maybe eventually meet someone who could fit in with our strange little family.
They’re not really the BIG dreams I had ten years ago.
I’d probably have thought they were pretty boring back then.
Who wants to be a single parent with two kids, one of them special needs, with no one to help out?
No one really, but it’s not the way our cookie has crumbled.
Things rarely go the way we expect them to.
Every fork in the road, it’s been a learning experience for me.
One I’m grateful for.
Each one has helped me become who I am today.
To have the gorgeous boys I have.
To be the kick-ass friend I know I must be for my nearest and dearest to love me the way they do.
Every time we say goodbye, my friends and I. We always end with “love you”.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that you never know when things may change.
You never know if you might never see those you love again.
This is the one and only moment we know for certain is going to happen.
Anything in the future?