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What is hiding behind the brave face?

What's hiding behind the brave face? Well, I haven’t written in a while… actually a very long while. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to or didn’t have the time. Last year was a tough year for us. We faced many challenges with Ralph’s behavior and I felt I lost my positivity, not my hope but my positivity. Ralph had become increasingly aggressive, he wouldn’t do any of his school work, he did not want to follow directions, nor did he want to participate in any group activities at school. It seemed like every day there was a note, a phone call or a report being sent home about his behavior or we were having a meeting to discuss how to de-escalate his aggression. I put on this brave face to hide all the tears, the worries, the fears, the anger and self pity I felt. I didn’t want those around me to see how vulnerable and fragile I had become.

When Ralph’s school counselor would call and ask the question I hated the most and still do, “Is anything different going on at home?” or “What’s going on at home?” after there was an incident at school. I felt like I was failing as a parent, I questioned myself and my parenting skills. I felt like they blamed us for his behavior, when we are doing the best that we can do. The wild thing was nothing had changed at home, we were continuing our normal routines. We were loving on him extra hard because as adults we know how the world is, unforgiving and relentless. I felt my blood boil every time his counselor would call me and ask. My heart sank when I looked into those big brown eyes of his and I felt broken because I could not figure out how to fix it. When folks would ask, “how are the kids doing and how was Ralph progressing ?", I would put on a brave face and say he is doing exceedingly well even though I felt the total opposite.

At my weakest moment, briefly I felt like everything wasn’t going to be okay, it was not going as I planned and didn’t know what the future looks like for both Ralph and Mackenzie. I felt a sense of despair but I knew I could not sink back into the dark place I fought so hard to get out of. I remember back to a time where I didn’t have hope and how hard it was to see past the pain. When I have trouble times and bad days I revert back to what my mother has taught me, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17). In a flash, I snapped out of it and replaced those thoughts of pity and self doubt with ones that said “so what!” I am going to love these two with all I have, I would continue to raise my children to love and respect one another, to put God first and most of all to love the life we live. It's not perfect, there are some days we want to quit and give up and then there are perfect moments that make you forget the valleys you were just in.

For so long we have wanted our family to fit the model of a normal family, but normal we are not. I have grown to embrace it, to love it and appreciate it and mostly I understand it. No longer do we try to fit society's definition of normal. We write our own definition and our narrative to tell our very own story. I have taken back my power and look in the mirror and love the image that I see and what is around is around me. Our family is blessed in abundance with love, support and most of all each other. I will never take that for granted again.

To all the moms, dads, caregivers out there, it will come a day you realize normal is just a word in the dictionary and its meaning lies with the person who is reading it. To be completely transparent, I hate the word normal and typical. We are all unique with unique gifts we bring to this world. I would much rather stand out rather than blend in, I would rather be loud and heard rather than be ignored! I stand in my truth and let my story help anyone who needs to hear it!

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