” YOUR CONDITION DOES NOT DEFINE YOU!”
A beautiful baby girl was sent to me on July 17, 2001. Her eyes were the most beautiful thing to me in the world and being only 21 years old I knew that I would always protect and fight for her. At that time, I did not have any idea what I was going to be face with when I made those promises to her.
My baby girl was like me in so many ways just full of life, smiling and so friendly to anyone that came in her path. She just wanted to make you happy when you were in her presence. With GOD giving her this gift, I did not understand why certain things were happening. After a couple of years of playing tackle football, my daughter began to have these episodes. Blanking out while riding her bike, or looking up into space when you are calling her name or not fully grasping concepts that a typical 7 year old should grasp. In my heart, I knew something was wrong but as a parent, I did not want to face it until she rode her bike into a car because she blank out.
Making all of the appointments with neurologist specialists I was shaking while telling them the systems and what was happening. After going in for testing and seeing her blanking out during the test I was thinking “GOD what is wrong with my baby?” All I could do is be strong for her and let her know everything would be okay. Weeks went by and it was time to meet with the doctor to hear the results. In all, honesty, I was just thinking, “Oh nothing is wrong, it’s nothing, “but I was wrong. “ Mrs. Joyner, your daughter has Epilepsy.” At that time, I have never heard of epilepsy and did not know how it would affect her life. Not only did she have epilepsy but she was also diagnosed with ADHD. All I could do is break down because as a parent your thinking “What did I do to my child?” “How could I let this happen?”
When you hear the doctor say anything that your child now has it feels like a knife has been stabbed into your heart and what made matters worse when I had to make that call to her biological father who was an absentee parent he said, “How could YOU let this happen to her?” To hear him say that just continued to show how ignorant he was and still is to this day. In that moment I knew that only I would be her advocate and educate myself on everything epilepsy and ADHD.
After being diagnosed, her doctor wanted to put her on medication for both and I did not. I researched both and realized that even though they want to say ADHD can only be dealt with by medication I disagreed because after doing my own research I learned that it does not need to be dealt with only medication; but there are other methods to choose from and I went with my gut and declined medication for ADHD and settled for medication for her Epilepsy only.
The next 11 years was going to be a battle I did not know I was going to have to fight for my child. See when your child now has a condition the world around them changes as people around them change. People tend to look at them as if they cannot do regular activities or they should be treated different. I recall one incident with my daughter’s 4th grade teacher and I knew this so-called teacher did not care about my child or her having Epilepsy and ADHD. During the parent teacher conference she kept saying all of the things that my daughter was not good at and after hearing her for 15 minutes I stopped her and said “You’re telling me everything bad about my child and how she is not performing at the level as the other children, so what are you going to do about it?” Her face went blank and she began to stutter, “What do you mean,” she said. “ My child is with you 6-8 hours a day and you are her teacher, I know what I’m going to do but what are you going to do to help her get to the a higher performing level?”
This teacher did not realize that I was not the one and I am not going to take any answer you give me just because your ass is a teacher. Every professional can be questioned. As she tried to answer me with a sorry ass excuse, I stopped her and asked the question again. My then husband tried to defend the teacher and I looked at him like “Shut yo ass up and stop defending her!” Yes, he got cussed out after we left because in that moment I knew he was not going to fight for my daughter and would be on the teacher’s side.
Since the teacher could not answer me and when she tried, she was becoming defensive I stopped her in her tracks and cussed her out. In that moment by battle with the Chula Vista Elementary School district began until she went to middle and high school and the fight there never stopped.
Yes, my child was discriminated against, yes, my child schools did not try to follow her IEP plan, yes I had to fight this battle on my own her whole life until she graduated high school last year. For 11 years, I fought the school district, teachers, principals, youth sports coaches and more. I fought them because my daughter deserved the proper education and treatment just like everyone else. I had to pull strength from my daughter because I was her voice and her warrior mother.
I was told that she would only graduate high school with a GPA under 2.0 and that she would never be college material. I made sure we fought against all of those odds! So many people including family did not understand my parenting methods when it came to me not babying her. I told my daughter that yes, you have these conditions but they do not have you. These conditions do not dictate you and you will be successful!
As a single mother raising a child with any condition we must do what we feel is right for our child and never lose sight of whom they are and who we are as women. We must always fight for them even when they do not understand but pray that one day they will know what we went through for them. Many of my own family members just threw stones and never step foot onto the battlefield. Let them throw as many stones as they want too because only YOU know what is best for your child as I knew.
My brother recently had to remind me that I got her through high school with a 3.7 GPA and into college. “YOU did that sis! YOU fought all of those battles by yourself while building a business, going through a divorce and being a survivor of abuse. You did a great job!” Yes, I did do a good job by getting my daughter through it and teaching her, “Your condition or what you go through in life does not dictate you or your success.”