Invisible Obstacles Series

Rolling With It – A Light in the Tunnel, Part 5

 FROM THE INVISIBLE OBSTACLES SERIES

Rolling With It

LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL, Part 5

 

Sticking with uncertainty is how we learn to relax in the midst of chaos, how we learn to be cool when the ground beneath us suddenly disappears.”

Pema Chödrön, ‘Comfortable with Uncertainty’

 

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Mother walking dog approaches son silhouetted in the distance, bike path

[I/D: Sherry walks through tunnel with LJ. In the distance, Aidan’s silhouette does a roller blade stunt]

LETTING GO

“When I was married, I had a very specific thought about what my life would look like and how it would go. For me – I was supposed to have these June Cleaver mothering skills. I had to give up what I thought that life was going to look like.”

“Honestly I don’t think I gave up all of that until fairly recently. Pieces of it I obviously gave up – I know I’m a single parent, there isn’t necessarily anyone with me, someone I can count on and rely on. But it wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized that my life has a different picture to it. I had let go of pieces but I couldn’t let go of the whole thing.”
My life isn’t what I thought it was going to be and…I have had to let that go. It really wasn’t easy.

While Sherri walks LJ, Aidan zips back and forth on the bike path. He’s holding Sherri’s phone high in the air like a beacon, chasing Pokemon to bring back to his mom like a puppy with a stick.

I won’t catch any photos of them casually strolling down the path like catalogue models. They move at different speeds, and it’s rare to catch Aidan at a moment of rest.

 

Son showing mother something on a pink phone

[I/D: Aidan shows his mother a Pokemon he caught on her phone]

STAYING FLEXIBLE

“We roll with most everything – and that is a piece that I have taught him. It’s probably a piece that he had, but I have nurtured that, so when something comes your way and you have to change – you just change. It is what it is.”

“I have to really look what works for him, what I think he would be interested in, versus what my mother and I would be interested in. They don’t always mesh so you have to find a happy medium in it.”

 

When Aidan was born, Sherri expected to be a ‘June Cleaver’ mother – a content housewife, doting on her children, cooking nightly home-made dinners every night for her husband. Every hair would be in place, outfit neatly ironed – she would manage domestic life and never want for more.

As the perfect mother and wife, she’d never get frustrated, or bored. She would be preternaturally calm, patient, and supportive. She’d bake. Maybe run for PTO. She’d have the time and energy for anything she set her mind to.

Parenting and managing a home wouldn’t be easy, but it would be possible with enough hard work and tenacity. It would all work out – because her children would be perfect A+ students, easy to discipline, quick to remember rules, and quiet.

Aidan is none of those things. Aidan is so much better.

Mother smiling at son talking on the phone

[I/D: Sherri smiles at Aidan as he talks on the phone]

EXPERIENCE & EMPATHY

“I also think it’s made him more empathetic to challenges that other people may have. He has his challenges, his paternal grandmother has Tourettes and some other challenges – and he just rolls with it. Other kids that he goes to school with have other types of challenges and he just rolls with them – no judgement, they are what they are, this is a piece you live with – and I think he’s more accepting.”

“I love that he has learned to treat people the way he wants to be treated, fairly, equally and with respect.”

Instead of that ‘June Cleaver’ future, Sherri found herself divorced, a single mother, overwhelmed with an 8-month-old who never stopped.

She had to accept she was not June Cleaver – she couldn’t do this on her own. She accepted that moving in with her mother was the only way to support her son. Moving back home as an adult wasn’t easy.

People shamed her for not living on her own – failing to see that the home she’s built for Aidan is an exercise of mutual respect and compromise between Sherri and her mother. She’s not living in her mother’s house – she, Aidan, and her mom are a multi-generational family that works smoothly.

In accepting her new life, ignoring haters, and working to cohabitate peacefully, Sherri built a family for Aidan far stronger than any two-parent, nuclear family. She rolled with it.

Aidan has learned to roll with it too – he’s taken his experience with ADHD and used it to become an expert athlete. His chattiness and openness makes him charming and interesting. He’s used it to become kind.

As I mentioned before – he’s so much better than any cookie-cutter sitcom son. That’s not an accident.

Sherri has fostered the same flexibility in Aidan that helped build a steady and reliable life for her son. She’s built a network of support and love that not every kid has access to.

The result is a kid who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and be awesome – because he is learning the same thing Sherri learned when she was his age.

…Find out what Sherri learned in part 8: Interdependence

 

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This session is from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Families in the Invisible Obstacles series provide a glimpse into daily life while navigating adversity. Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. Permission & quotes attributed to Sherri L. unless otherwise specified.

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