Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Learning to Be Less Than Perfect

I received my final grades today. One A and one A-.

Now, why do I look at that A- and wish it were an A? I mean, I came so close. I was at 94.73, but my final project fell short of the instructor's rubric, so I didn't make it.

I admit it is my mother talking. I had a seriously Type-A Mom, back before they had terms like that. If you brought home a 95, she'd say "why couldn't it be a 96 or a 97?" I once received a final grade of 99 in a biology class. A final grade! And, yes, she asked me (and the teacher, mind you!) why didn't I get an 100? No one had ever got a 99, and she kept pushing for that perfect grade. The pressure used to be ridiculous. It didn't help that my older brother graduated high school at 15 1/2. Being the middle child, I was expected to be as good, if not better.

I wasn't.

I was the artsy, dreamy, talk to myself under the kitchen table-type kid. I sat in mimosa trees, smelling the blossoms and deciphered shapes in the clouds. I started out badly in school, nearly flunking 3rd grade.

Was I too rambunctious (old term for ADHD)or didn't turn in my work? Nope. I just talked too much! LOL!! I laugh at that now. I just couldn't stop getting involved with everyone in the class and finding out how they were doing. Well, my mother had a real good talking to me (in those days, that meant, spanking) and I realized that I wasn't going to master anything talking all the time. So, I buckled down. Real hard.

And, went on to be salutatorian of my middle school and graduate in the top 2% of my high school class. And, still, she kept pushing for more.

Little did she know that physically, I was pushing myself to utter sickness and exhaustion. I never missed a day, until one day, in utter pain, I just walked out the the school. Top grades and all, I needed to rest.

College proved to be disastrous. My eyes couldn't take it and my body seemed to be constantly racked with some virus or flu. To my darling mother's utter consternation, I never finished a degree. Five colleges and no degree. She was mortified. I really think I was relieved.

Now, I am the parent and I have two lovely boys, who are far from stellar in grades. My older Aspie son is average, not your savant Aspie in any way. My youngest son probably has permanent memory damage and has a speech/language deficit. I learned early on that I could not have the same attitude of my mother. I had to cut them some slack.

And, today, I realized that I have to cut myself some slack, too. I deserve to be okay with less than perfect. I deserve to turn the record player of parental disapproval off and enjoy my return to school.

On Twitter today, @steveKrull wrote this:

Some days I face #autism head on. Some days I hide from it and I don't know exactly why. Answers?

I answered with this:

But isn't that like life? Look at the hiding days as reflective. No one takes life on head on everyday. Even God rested. #autism

Boy, I am sure my mother is rolling over in the grave. But, when I look back on that tweet, I realize I have learned to take it easy. Perfect grades don't make perfect lives. And, all of us have something to offer, even if it is less than perfect. Some days we are gung-ho, and other days, we need to hide.

Hmmm, haven't I come a long way.

Thanks to autism and dysautonomia, and learning to love my dreamy, nurturing, artsy self.