For years I have had the mantra “advocate–it is what I do”. Over the years I have also said many times that my girl has been the portal for which I have learned that I do indeed have a voice and that I can create change by speaking out. Years and years of advocating. Years of sleepless nights and endless meetings in order to shine the light on her, as an individual, and what her needs are.
Advocate. It is what I do.
Through my act of advocating, I likely burned a lot of bridges and compromised some relationships. Despite this, I know for sure that I did my very best for my girl. I know for sure that without the years of advocating, years of being known as “that parent”, my girl would not be where she is at today.
As the early morning came on me this morning and I was thinking about this topic, I shuddered at where my thoughts went. I had a thought that my girl was in her own apartment. Shuddered. Yet, completely reasonable to consider given her recent accomplishments of independence and maturity. Not an apartment now, but someday. Somewhere very close to me. Did I really have that thought???
The thought must have come from seeing her independently ride her special needs public transportation to and from work. Yes, her work. The place where she goes to contribute, find meaning, and feel accomplished. I know for sure that she would not being experiencing this had I not advocated. Had I not spoke out that sitting in an academic classroom learning how to properly take an outline note for a research paper on a topic that meant nothing to her was completely meaningless to her future. Completely meaningless.
The thought may have also come from our time together shopping yesterday. The empowerment that she has developed by having choice in how her Social Security is spent is remarkable. She has control of her choices. She is wise with her money and the real life application of the math that she was taught is her special education classes are evident. Not the regrouping and math facts that were (for years) attempted, but the basic life skills math. She is a price checker and a nutrition counter. She chose clothes, toiletries, snacks, and even offered to buy me a thing or two. My girl.
The advocating was all worth it. The battles. The sleepless nights. The tears. We have taken a turn and the road we are now on looks so amazing and so meaningful for her. This road is one where I can now breathe. I can sit back and watch her amaze me and others. I am also beginning to see that this road even has signs of things I would have never, ever considered.