It’s interesting to watch how small children play hide and seek. They squeeze their eyes shut, and they think that means that no one can see them anymore. It’s adorable, but naïve. Perhaps it’s adorable because it’s naïve. Lately, I’ve been playing an adult version of the same game. I’ve been pretending that if I don’t think about it, don’t talk about it, and don’t write about it, it won’t quite be real. Such mind games rarely work without alcohol.
A month ago, after continued behavioral problems at school and extensive cognitive behavioral therapy, we decided to put our oldest son on Prozac. We don’t have problems with the idea of people taking medications if and when they need them, but we didn’t want Prozac be option A, especially not for our child. We wanted it to be further down the list, which is why we tried a lot of other services first, including eleven months of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Three years ago, we did very brief trials of two different ADHD medications and Diflucan, but they were ineffective. After three unsuccessful medication trials, I was NOT interested in pursuing further medication options. Every time a teacher or therapist suggested another trial, I would recoil.
However, his anxiety was so high that it was interfering with his overall progress. After he overturned some furniture at home and a desk at school, it became clear that therapy alone just wasn’t cutting it. (These are the kinds of behaviors that get kids kicked out of school.) So, we scheduled the appointment with the psychiatrist to discuss various options.
The good news is his teachers and therapists really think the medication is helping, even at the current low dosage. The bad news is we put our son on Prozac. Because we’ve been for the most part resisting drug trials, it feels like failure on our part. It feels like we’ve given up hope. A big part of me is struggling with my own expectations.
Once upon a time, I was twenty-four years old, and the future was pregnant with love and possibility. We were newlyweds then, and everything was bright and shiny. We didn’t worry about endless laundry, or school schedules, or any of the pesky details of life. And now we have three kids including one with special needs. The daily grind wears at us, as well as the bittersweet element. As parents, we are supposed to suck it up, and do what needs to be done. Sometimes even writing about it feels self-indulgent. Yet writing about one’s children is almost always self-indulgent, because when we talk about our children, we are also talking about ourselves.
It is the death of our expectations that is the hardest part. With each passing milestone, I think, “But it’s not supposed to be this way!” It’s the acknowledgement that things don’t always go the way we want them to. Before I had a special needs child, I never realized that the most difficult thing in the world would be letting go of my own expectations without losing hope.
A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of finals, miserable and mentally fried. And we had just started our son on (a miniscule dose of) Prozac. My husband saw how stressed I was and he bought me orange lilies. They were lovely, but within a week, they were almost all dead. I trimmed them, put aspirin in the water, and kept the water fresh, but the petals continued to drop off one by one until only one bloom was left in the vase. I decided I was going to throw the flowers out the next day.
When I walked into the kitchen the following morning I was surprised to see three orange lilies in bloom. Right when I had given up hope, there they were.