I have to admit it’s been a tumultuous month. I like the way that word “tumultuous” rolls around in my head. It perfectly describes the surrounding chaos I continuously strive to control, albeit in vain.
Despite my best efforts to remain at peace in the midst of completing the proverbial “to do list” my list keeps filling up with, well, “to do’s”! Do I hear an Amen from you? I thought so!
Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. And neither is filling out college applications and scholarship forms. Pulling together community service hours, gathering letters of recommendation, documenting awards and achievements and encouraging your child to write a stellar essay can be, well, tumultuous!! Not to mention the several weekends of visiting college campuses and helping your soon-to-be-leaving-the-nest teenager determine where they could best thrive for the next four years is an emotionally charged experience. And here I thought putting them on a school bus the first day of Kindergarten would be the most challenging part of motherhood. Silly me.
But smack dab in the middle of all the tumultuousness (if that’s even a word…) something extraordinary happened. My youngest son came home from school last week and told me he’d gone to his Guidance Counselor (completely on his own) and asked if she could help him research if there were any scholarships available for kids with Autism. My heart skipped a beat. Literally. Not only did it skip a beat, it burst with emotion. You have no idea how far my son has come with overcoming his struggle with Aspberger’s. Any parent who has a child with a learning disability or some other handicap can readily imagine the journey.
All through elementary and high school his older brother was a straight A student and star baseball player. Austin grew up under the world-view umbrella that his brother was ‘all that’ while Austin struggled to make eye contact and not be ‘the weird kid’ in group settings. Loud noises drove him physically crazy, making fire drills and school assemblies excruciatingly painful. Every year brought new challenges and frustrating disappointments.
All that changed when we moved to Panama City Beach, Florida in January of 2010, halfway through Austin’s 10th grade year. It is as if a switch got turned on in his brain. Austin was no longer “socially awkward.” He suddenly discovered the Drama club (famously known as the International Thespian Society) and met a warm, caring and best of all accepting group of friends who embraced him for who is was: Awesome. It was in this new city that Austin found his voice – and a very funny one at that. Ever heard of Jim Carrey? I’m guessing Austin could run circles around him if challenged head to head in an improvisational comedy routine. I’m going to miss his humor when he’s at college in a few short months.
So back to the scholarship. The good news was they found one! The bad news was the deadline was four days away and the application had 32 essay questions and several specific documents that needed to be gathered before the deadline. Yes, the word ‘tumultuous’ was smack dab in the middle of the process! Yet three days later…my heart skipped a beat. Again. Austin’s teachers were asked to write letters of recommendation for him. Their words drew tears to his father’s and my eyes, having watched Austin struggle year after year with what 98% of kids simply take for granted. To have them say they were pulling for him because he had overcome so much in his life and was so deserving to be acknowledged for his hard work and dedication to make this world a better place overwhelmed us as parents. They didn’t “have” to say anything. And yet their words came easily because what they were writing was true.
We won’t know for months if he is awarded the scholarship. Yet to us he’s already won. All his life well-meaning professionals encouraged him and us as his parents, “You should help him find a decent job skill so he can be a contributing member of society” but Austin never took it to heart. He wanted to go to a four year college. Not a trade school, not a 2 year college. A four-year university. And in 7th grade and beyond the good Lord put guidance counselors in his path who helped him achieve his goals. This grateful parent applauds the teachers and counselors who tirelessly encourage kids to follow their dreams and achieve greatness.
To date, Austin has applied to 3 colleges and time will tell which one accepts him. That “tumultuous adventure” awaits to be told another day. Because today I enjoy the smile of gratitude that my face can’t hide if my life depended on it. Way to go, son.