the search for balance

Ed note: The following post is a mess.  The pictures are sloppy and unedited. There is not a hint of proper grammar to be found. Not even a passing nod to its existence. It is what it is. It’s life. Raw and real and not always pretty.


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Yes, she’s walking on the back of the loveseat.

It’s approximately 2.5″ wide.

Balance, balance, use your balance

Arms outstretched and keep them wide

Balance balance keep your balance

To the other side

Tight rope walking, in your stockings, inch by inch you’re doing fine

Keep your head up – learn to walk the line.

~ The Balance Song, JoJo’s Circus

It takes a toll, you know? The searching and grasping and clawing and digging, the calming and slowing and Breathe, Baby, Breathe. This finessing and stepping by stepping by stepping by tiny little baby stepping. This running and leaping and praying and flying and soaring and up and up and up and up and falling and waiting in the eerie silence to gather ourselves (Toni Morrison’s words ring so true, She gather me, man … yes, just yes and please, just please) – then steadying and crawling and standing and running and starting all over again and again and again and yes, again. This believing then doubting then believing, always believing even when believing feels like a farce, then convincing THEM to believe, the having of faith in her in him in her in me in us in the goal and the purpose and the fact that there must be a goal and there must be a purpose and this has to be doable because if not why? But if it is or if it’s not then faith that there had to have been – has to be – something bigger than us. That there has to be Something Bigger Than Us.

Balance, balance, use your balance

Arms outstretched and keep them wide

Balance balance keep your balance

To the other side

Tight rope walking, in your stockings, inch by inch you’re doing fine

Keep your head up – learn to walk the line.

Everything comes down to this, doesn’t it? The begging and the pleading and the scratching and clawing and digging and believing – it comes down to believing that that elusive moment of peace and grace and poise – and what do they call that? oh yes, happiness – exists. For her, for you, for him, for us and them, and all of us and that moment, it’s really just balance, isn’t it? That moment when the universe goes quiet and grace and Grace coincide and you can throw your head back and laugh because finally, for the first time in forever, you’re not afraid to fall. That’s it, isn’t it?

Balance, balance, use your balance

Arms outstretched and keep them wide

Balance balance keep your balance

To the other side

Tight rope walking, in your stockings, inch by inch you’re doing fine

Keep your head up – learn to walk the line.

I worry about the ramifications of overly homogenizing our kids. I worry that if we beat the odd out of them then we’re going to create a generation of functional yet miserable adults who eventually implode from the weight of a life that feels like a grand charade of normalcy. I also worry that in so doing, we could lose the next Warhol or Einstein or Carroll (or amazing children’s photographer).

As elusive as it may be, I’m convinced that there’s a balance somewhere. A fine, nearly impossible balance that will come from giving our children the tools to navigate the world around them – granting them a CHOICE in deciding how they will be perceived by the rest of the world – while also celebrating their uniqueness just enough to let them know that it’s OK to be who they are. Letting them fly their ‘freak flag’ (as an adult friend of mine on the spectrum likes to say) if they so desire, and standing behind them, cheering them on when they do.

If we can do both – if we can give them an understanding of societally expected behavior (and its power to drive how they are perceived and received by the world at large) while also teaching them to value their differences from that world, then the choice is theirs.

Odds Are, Diary, Feb, 2011

Balance, balance, use your balance

Arms outstretched and keep them wide

Balance balance keep your balance

To the other side

Tight rope walking, in your stockings, inch by inch you’re doing fine

Keep your head up – learn to walk the line.

And so we keep trying, keep believing, keep searching for balance.

Independence with accommodation, need with tolerance, moderation with acceptance, frustration with progress, comfort with discipline, coddling with pushing, prodding, urging, expecting. Conforming with defying, advocating with listening, learning with teaching, knowing when to push and when to pull and when to back away and let it happen, when to give and when to take, and when to ask and when to demand, when to hold ground and when to walk away. When to whisper, when to shout, when to figure it out and when to ask for help. Of finding time and spending time. Of pushing and worrying and watching and letting go and trusting. Of being a therapist and being a parent. Of supporting others and supporting ourselves. Of playing the roles and being ourselves. Of teaching our kids to change for the world and teaching the world to change for our kids.

Because that moment – that moment when the universe goes quiet and grace and Grace coincide and you can throw your head back and laugh because finally, for the first time in forever, you’re not afraid to fall – that moment is worth it all.

That moment when you – when your kid – is happy.

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That’s it, isn’t it?

18 thoughts on “the search for balance

  1. Jess, you have no idea how much I needed this post this morning. HUGE IEP meeting today. Trasition to Kindergarden…and I’m worried beyond well, everything…that they don’t have an appropriate placement for my girl next year. I’ve spent hours upon hours, upon HOURS preparing all month. It comes down to today. And in the end…it’s about not being afraid to fall. It’s about my girl being HAPPY, and being herself. Thank you

  2. Jess, loved this post, but you completely had me at the “If we can do both” sentence. It’s what drives me every single day, no matter how difficult or wonderful my experiences with my boys. Perfectly said!

  3. Yes. I see both of my children in a new light. I feel happy for them. Happy for me. I know now that I can lean back and laugh and embrace the grace of the moments like these. My children are perfect just as they are. My job is to grow them to know that – to know it deep down to their very core. They. Are. Perfect.

    Gifts from God.

    Thank you, friend. Love you. You have changed our lives and our lenses forever.

  4. Beautiful, thoughtful, poetic post! I feel like there’s a transition I have to make with my own kids based on reading this: to go from seeing them as an extension of me as something I have to mold or control, to an individual separate from myself not to be controlled, to an emotional/spiritual extension of myself to be nurtured. My kids are an extension of me, but not in the way I sometimes think.

    Maybe this is a stretch based on where you were going with your writing, but the words you used really stirred a lot of feelings. Perfect ending. Thanks for this post.

  5. This is beautiful…and just what I needed to hear as I struggle, once more, with the balance…

    P.S. my son walks on our loveseat like that, too.

  6. love the ‘fly your freak flag’…. 🙂 My son, 15, AS – this week is spirit week at school, yesterday was Hawaiian day. He was very excited to go all decked out – dad’s Hawaiian shirt, two plastic leis, and some large (4-5″ across) daisies – behind his ears. I mentioned to him that usually only girls put the flowers behind their ears, would he like to just put them in his shirt pocket? Nope, I like them behind my ears. So he did. The true magnitude of this is the fact that he goes to a large public high school, and while he is in their AS program and has some support, he attends regular classes and came home not only not beaten up, but still excited about the whole thing 🙂

  7. My journey has been all about learning that balance is the key. To understand that, for myself, and to allow that, for my kiddo, is our daily practice. Thanks for capturing and sharing that ideal — I needed that reminder on this not-so-happy morning.

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