December was the month that made me break down.

The school system was failing my child and I was at my wit’s end thinking

I’m supposed to make the people at the school somehow understand my child’s needs.

And then I was thinking

if I don’t feel comfortable at this school when I am visiting,

who am I to make my child go there every day?

I had one of those moments where I just knew.

Leah Irby is holder her viola wearing a purple top and black skirt. The image has a purple background and says "Move from burned-out to TUNED IN. One story and song at a time."

This was not working anymore

and I could keep punishing myself and my child and adding to the stress or

I could start to be free from those chains and move to a new place.

So, I chose freedom.

The freedom to say this life that we are living right now

Is not

working for me

So, the radical acceptance that I am practicing is deciding to step back and look at the whole picture.

Look at the variables that are right in front of you.

And then practice accepting them for what they are.

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The reality of my life is:

  1. My husband’s long commute:

My husband has a job and commutes to Stockholm from our small town. This is enough hours per week for a half-time job. It’s time he can not help with our child or do chores around the house. It means that on a normal day he leaves before we are awake and comes home just in time to eat and sleep.

We had hopes and plans:

When we dreamed of buying the house we hoped he would get a new job, either closer to home or partly working from home.

My husband did get a new job just a few months ago,

but it has meant a more fixed commute into the city instead of the previous driving everywhere that

sometimes allowed for working closer to home.

The new job is good, but it has created a longer commute, not a shorter one.

The hope we could get stuck in is that he MIGHT get a different job. But, after two years,

it’s better to look at the reality that if he does change jobs, it’s still more likely to be something closer to the city than out near where we currently live.

2. My lack of a Swedish driver’s license:

The other thing I had to radically accept was that I am dependent on public transport or someone else

driving me to places living in the countryside.

When we were in the city I went to shops by walking there or taking the bus or train and getting groceries delivered to our door.

Moving to the countryside meant the delivery places don’t deliver and I can’t get to the store and back by public transport in the short time I have when my child is in school (because the public bus out here runs so few times per day).

I hoped

that when we moved to a place that required a car, I would get my license soon after we moved.

It’s been two years and I am choosing to accept the fact that the driver’s test is too complicated to tackle in the thick of parenting my high-needs child.

I also struggled with getting to driving lessons when it took 1.5 hours each way by public transportation.

The reality

is that it will be easier to complete the driving practice when we live closer to a driving school. I have a driver’s license from the US and yes, there are many things the same for driving here, but there are some different regulations and a lot of memorization needed for the written test.

It’s the kind of test I do not do well on. So, I will need to spend time cramming facts before taking the written test and studying more for the driving test.

3. Finding the right school for my child:

I hoped: the school was good enough

when we moved to the countryside, we would have several choices of schools in the area. The reality that we didn’t know before moving, was that there is school choice as far as you don’t have to pay for going to a private school. However, they will only provide transportation to the closest public school.

So we were forced into only having one choice for a school. And it was the one school that all the neighbors warned us about.

But, then I thought -we are here and this is the school my child will attend. How bad can it be?

The reality: that the school was not adapted for my child

I realized my child needed a different education. And that if we do not accommodate for autism/ADHD and for different ways of learning to read, school is not going to work. My child was on a constant sensory overload in the classroom and suffering from traumatic experiences on the playground.

I had high hopes that maybe being in a small town, we would have a little group of friends and be able to play with them. But, there turned out to be no kids the same age who wanted to play with my child. Going to school in the next slightly bigger town brought a few friends into my child’s life, but it wasn’t enough to counteract all the problems.

This led to an anxiety-based inability to attend school, sometimes called “school refusal” or in Sweden, they call the students “hemsittare” meaning someone who sits at home. But, none of these labels really describe the sheer volume of struggling my child has been through. The struggle to sleep, to eat, to get dressed. The struggle to articulate what was wrong. It just all became

Too Much!

4. Commuting for medical services:

I hoped: we could go to the local dentist

But, when things got tricky and school was difficult, my child also needed to go see the dentist and we discovered several cavities.

The reality

After multiple tries with the local dentist, we ended up in Stockholm for a full sedation dentistry. And for all of that my husband had to take off a full day of work because he needed to drive us and we even needed to stay with someone else before and after the procedure. And then we also needed neurology appointments to check for possible seizures. All of these things are not available in the countryside. And getting back and forth creates more stress. Which does not make the appointments or medical procedures any better, it just adds to the stress.

So, my radical acceptance was that if we lived closer to all of these specialists, it would take up less time from our lives and would lower our overall stress.

Accepting what is:

The radical acceptance says that we have tried making it work for long enough.

We have passed the “settling-in” stage and my child is still struggling with so much of living in this place with no close friends nearby and hardly any kids here at all.

Radical acceptance says there were more moments of play and happiness before we moved from the city to the countryside. And the fleeting moments we find a connection or a pause from intolerance, do not make up for a way of life that fits better to my child.

I remember the happy moments of being able to go to a variety of different parks, and just show up and play with whatever kids happened to be there. Being in a small town means you have to bring a friend to the park if you want to play with someone. And being neuro-divergent means that it’s harder to find the kids that are accepting of you and want to meet you outside of school. Radical acceptance says we need more opportunities to go to a park and live closer to more children so that my child might find one or two close friends.

Lack of Social Connections:

Radical acceptance says that I also need more people around me. I need emotional support and friends around me. It’s just all felt like an uphill struggle here.

And I’m tired.

I’m sleeping and resting and trying to do all the things

and I still struggle here.

And the reality is we have gotten to a place where we are not living

we are simply existing.

When we lived in the city we used to go out and do things. We went dancing and to events. When my child stopped attending school, I barely left the street we lived on for several months.

So, my radical acceptance is to say it’s ok to say this “dream life” we thought we were working toward, isn’t the right place for us to be. And that is ok.

I do not at all regret buying the house and we will continue to come back to it as a vacation home. We have many lovely neighbors right around us. But, it isn’t the right place to be for our everyday living. And I am accepting that moving back to Stockholm is the best way forward for our family.

Leah Irby is holder her viola wearing a purple top and black skirt. The image has a purple background and says "Move from burned-out to TUNED IN. One story and song at a time."

If you are also feeling stuck in your life with your child and

dealing with challenging behavior and wondering what could help,

try looking at all the variables in your life

and see where things can shift.

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