I wrote those words just now to another parent who’s “living the dream”. And I thought “Dang, that needs to be shared some more.” So I’m sharing it again –
Our story is not a tragic one.
When people – when parents – talk about that time their child was diagnosed with “something”, they use words like “devastation”, “fears”, “heartbreak”. They use sad words, tragic words, words to express that feeling of despair that the future they imagined for their child has been erased and replaced with one of struggles.
But we never had a big deal diagnosis moment. For years, we were told Maura might catch up. We were given hope and dreams and a possibility of success – to the point that when we were finally able to claim the word “disability” for Maura, it was almost a relief.
“Our daughter has special needs.” we’d say. And we were instantly at peace with those words.
I think it helped that we already had three other children – not because they were the ones we could hang all our parental hopes and dreams on. Instead, we were able to watch these three unique personalities grow, from birth. Those three distinctive, unique personalities that showed themselves from moment one – infant Collin, who was born on a schedule that you could almost set a clock to. Little Sean, who was the most laid back baby I’d ever met. Miriam and her big spirit in the tiny package. So when Maura came along, with her smiles that lit up her whole face and snuggly ways, well, that’s just who she was. Like Collin who liked to be on time for stuff. And Sean, who rolled with any change thrown at him. And Miriam, who climbed up on her first scooter and smiled like the conquering princess she was.
I could look at my three older children and think what bright, beautiful creatures they were and also know that most likely, there wasn’t a brain surgeon amongst them. Not because they weren’t smart enough – no, sometimes my kids are too smart. But it just wasn’t their thing, brain surgery. And that was okay. So the idea that Maura may never become a brain surgeon either – well, yeah, I was over that idea. I had reached a point in my life where my dream for Maura was the same as my dream for her siblings – I wanted all my kids to grow up happy and successful in whatever they chose to do, be it brain surgery or welding or basket weaving. We were the parents who met on stage in our college theater – we’ll probably be disappointed if one of our kids doesn’t study art or theater in college.
I guess though, because we had watched our other children grow and develop as small but opinionated individuals, by the time Maura’s disabilities were in full swing, we were at a different place than other parental types. And because neither Josh or I had what you’d call a traditional upbringing, we were quick to go with the new flow. Originally, our plan was to send Maura, the last child, off to college, buy an RV, and travel a lot. Our new plan was “Well, we’ll need to fit three in the RV.” Instead, we ended up getting all four kids passports and moved to Ireland for a while.
Don’t get me wrong – our story hasn’t been all ease and smoothness and joy. We’ve had sad moments, hard moments, questioning moments. But that’s also kind of normal for life itself. No one has the perfect life, the perfect child. I am not the perfect mother. Hell, our dogs have issues, bless their fuzzy little brains.
But even on my worst day, I know that my life is pretty good. It’s not easy. It’s not neat. But it’s still a good life. I have family and friends who love us. I have a husband who supports me when I need holding up. I have these kids who have always amazed me.
No, our story is not a tragic one. It’s a bit hilarious, there are a few parts that might make you cry – with both laughter and sadness, there’s of course a bit of drama here and there, but most of all, it’s our story, and we can make it any type of story we wish.
So of course, our story is a good one.