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The Loneliness of Mothering a Gifted Child (Learning when to Advocate)

Something I havn't talked a lot about around here is about Laura Kate being gifted. For those of you who aren't familiar, I'm not referring to us thinking about how special she is or that she is really smart. Giftedness is a different way the brain works and processes information. Most of the time it means high intelligence and creativity and when their performance is high above the norm for their age.

I hesitate to write about this topic, because I'm not identified gifted, I don't always know the right terms, and I'm not always great at articulating this. There is so much of my intuition involved with this and you can't always verbalize intuition.

I actually hate the term and title of "gifted". I wish there was a different word to use. Because it implies that those of us not gifted don't have gifts or talents. I also think the term can be isolating for parents of gifted children because if you talk about your gifted child, it automatically sounds like you are bragging.... Even though gifted children come with their own set of special needs and challenges.

What has made this feel so lonely for me is having to figure out who I can and should talk to about it. Kyle and I are pretty big believers that the world doesn't (and shouldn't) revolve around our kids. And I never wanted our friends to think that I was comparing kids, because that has never been my intention, ever. In fact, each of my own children are so different that there isn't even a way to compare them. But I didn't know how to talk to people about this gifted child of mine without making it seem like I thought she was special or deserved something different than another child.

It's also been difficult figuring out how to communicate about the challenges we've faced with her. One of the biggest decisions we had to make for her was whether or not to skip first grade. Her teacher wanted us to consider it. I think this was a case where we talked to too many people instead of just keeping the decision to ourselves. Friends and family had good intentions but they gave overly-generalized comments or what was more hurtful was that I felt like they used the opportunity to tell us things that they had been thinking for a long time about concerns they had about LK's behavior. If they were so concerned why didn't they tell us before? Otherwise it felt like some people I really trusted were just judging my kid by her behavior and not talking to us about it. By the time we made our decision, we had to just narrow it down to what we, her parents, felt like was best. And to be 100% honest, I still don't know for sure whether we made the right decision or not. But we walk forward in faith, trusting the Lord to guide us

Navigating school with Laura Kate has been as much of a learning experience for me as it has been for her. We have been so blessed by teachers who knew exactly what LK needed to learn and fought hard to make sure she was challenged and was cognitively growing and not just floating along. We have also experienced teachers who have given us great opportunities to learn how to get along and respect people we don't always like or click well with.

The beginning of every school year I refer to myself as ridiculous. Because it is always the same routine of greeting, wondering what to say ahead of time and what to just wait out and let people experience on their own. The fire burning inside me is pretty bright at the beginning of the school year and I get really anxious about it all.

One of the biggest things I have struggled with is knowing when to advocate and when not to. I cannot describe to you this mothering intuition I have other than to say that it is like I feel a fire burning inside me and the only way to tamper it is to fight for her. When it comes to advocating, here's what I've learned:
You can do so in a way that is kind, loving, and gracious. And you should. But there is no one who will step up to do it if you don't. There may be people, even teachers and educators who are experts in their field, but I am the expert on Laura Kate Wiley. This conclusion comes after many meetings, a lot of which (maybe even the majority of which) that I felt like I didn't articulate my thoughts well or times when I left still feeling completely misunderstood. But I absolutely believe that it was still right to have the meeting. It was still right to ask more questions to grow my own understanding of what might be happening in her school day that I wasn't already aware of. It was right to explain that my Mama heart didn't feel right.

I believe every kid deserves a parent who will advocate like that for them. What I'm saying about my own kid(s) I think should apply to every kid and every parent. I really do not think that my child deserves special treatment above another. And that's not an easy task for teachers. I wholeheartedly think that teachers are rockstars and should be paid way more than they are. Sometimes they are asked to do impossible things like teach 20 different minds in a way that they can all understand and grow in knowledge. Sounds crazy right? Add dealing with ridiculous advocating moms and it's a wonder they keep doing it year after year. I think when everyone can realize we are all real people working towards the same goals, then really really great things can happen for our kids.

I've learned that nothing about this is going to be neat and tidy. It involves the hard conversations, a lot of prayer, and ALL the feelings. Ultimately, whenever I get worked up about Laura Kate, there are two main things I remember that puts things back into perspective:

1. God made Laura Kate. He made her brain and her body to work and function like it does. He loves her more than I can even fathom.
2. God made ME to be her mom. It is one of the things I know to be the truest in my life, that I was created to mother Laura Kate Wiley.  What an unbelievable gift and honor that truly is.

The point of this post is not to point fingers or to have some grand point to persuade you with. The point was simply to provide my perspective and for me to have a place to share what's been in my heart for a long time. So in an effort to draw this post to a conclusion, I just want to say this.... praise the Lord for the grace He gives all of us as we travel this parenting road! It's my favorite companion.

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