Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Different Life?

Do you think parenting a child with a disability has changed you? Small changes or big changes?

After I wrote my blog entry on my trip to the virtual future, I started wondering if that future would look completely different had I not been raising children with disabilities. And, I most definitely think it would.

I would be less patient. I would not be as assertive. I would still be very uncomfortable speaking in front of people, yet now I really enjoy sharing my story with people. I don’t believe I would find enjoyment in the smallest of things this world has to offer – real enjoyment, I mean – where I would take the time to notice every detail of the hummingbird in my back yard, for example. I would think “Oh, a hummingbird, and then turn my attention to something else. In fact, now I seek out the details and the beauty that can be found all around me. Ashley has taught me that.

I would still be voting as a Republican where now my commitment is to the Democratic Party. I would probably be uncomfortable with people of different abilities and not able to see the worth of everyone that didn’t fit the same mold from which I was raised. I might be one of the parents I see and hear in my children’s schools who don’t understand why a child with different abilities needs to be in “my” child’s regular education setting.

I might believe that my life was good never knowing how much better it actually could be. I wouldn’t understand that people can communicate without ever saying a word. I might not celebrate my child’s smallest achievements expecting even more and only celebrating the biggest ones. I would have time to exercise and take care of myself, and I might have been able to take the gourmet cooking class I wanted to take.

I definitely wouldn’t know that camellias and pansies are edible and what they taste like. I probably would never have heard of a nebulizer or a G-tube. I would sleep at night – all night – without getting up to see if my children were still breathing. And, I would never have met the hundreds of very special adults and children that I now consider my friends.

Yes, my life might have been easier. I might not have been as stressed or tired as I seem to almost always be these days. My life would, however, be like eating no-fat frozen vanilla yogurt instead of the Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby that I so enjoy.

I am grateful for every second of my life and everything good or not so good that it brings. I like the person I am today, and I’m not sure I could have said that had I not been the parent I am with the children I have.

What about you?


MMC said...

So much of what you said I could repeat verbatim for myself. Not all of it but certainly the majority.

And I would add this ... I would be one of those people who don't really think a great deal about people with disabilities, not because of any malice but I would just assume that they were being 'taken care of'. Boy did I learn a lesson there!

And that would mean that I never would have been blessed with the opportunity to use my legal training to help those with special needs. I truly believe that that is what I am suppose to be doing, what I am meant to do.

Ashley's Mom said...

And I am very glad that you are able and willing to use your legal training for helping also! We need more people like you.

Casdok said...

I think you sum it up really well!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do believe a person is changed forever when they have a child with a disability. For the better, of course. Good post.

Candice said...

Boy, to think about how my life has changed in 3 years - for the better and the not so better is staggering. Before children, my focus was on having children because I always felt like I was a mother even if not to my own children. I took care of cousins and friends kids, took them places and always made their birthday parties! Now - I have missed birthday parties because my kids had something that day & I don't get to spend as much time with them anymore or take them places. My husband and I used to go places on the weekends, just take off and go stay the night away from the house. Now, it takes paperwork and planning to go anywhere and my husband and I have not been away overnight just the two of us in 3 years. I'm not complaining. I love the time spent with my kids, but it is different. I never thought that I would learn another language, let alone deal with multiple disabilities. I have learned a beautiful language and how to make someones life the best that it can be. I have met wonderful people and saw how God can truly work in our lives. I don't know if I would have really noticed God uses people like I see now. I see people and stories put in my path just at the right time. It's one of the most incredible things!

Thank you for making me think back - my life is truly richer because of my special needs children and I wouldn't change a thing (well, maybe the mental pscychosis - I could do without those).