Knowing when to hold her hand and knowing when to let her fly. I find myself conflicted between the two more often than not–like a constant battle of whether or not I am making the right choice with either option.
My daughter is ambitious and driven; and I will happily take some credit for that with her dad. Even though this is sometimes worrisome, I marvel at her will to try new things. After all, this is what we have been pushing her to do since her first therapy sessions as an infant after we learned of her Down syndrome diagnosis. To face obstacles with courage while slightly nudging her outside of her comfort zone. All in hopes to encourage and inspire her to rise above life’s challenges; to show her what she is truly capable of accomplishing.
The tide is shifting now, well, for me anyway. Where I was once reassuring her to make her leap, she is now looking for me to let her go. She is getting a little older, a little more brave and definitely more vocal about her wants or needs. With that comes the tightening of my grip when all along I have been promising to loosen it up as she got older.
This little girl, my first born, is so curious about the world she lives in. Yet I sometimes catch myself holding her back from experiences because I am afraid for her. In stark contrast to everything we have been preparing her for, allowing her to further explore her independence feels more difficult than ever. It comes with the territory. Being a mother to a child with a disability causes the emotional tides to change in different phases of parenting her.
While these phases are unpredictable, they usually offer a unique vantage point. One where I can look out and evaluate where we are together. Perspective might hit me at a doctors appointment or when she is standing on the edge of a diving board; places that prove how far she has come or how much ground we have yet to cover.
It doesn’t escape me…the blessing of her being able to have these opportunities, the option to choose things for herself and the chance to see who she is becoming as she turns another year older. I am undeniably grateful for that. She is getting ready for kindergarten this fall and going to her first friend birthday party next week. These are wonderful and amazing things. Things I once worried about for several other reasons.
I guess that is the most beautiful part of this journey; knowing we can still do this all right alongside her, while keeping adequate enough distance for her to seek and inspect experiences for herself. Knowing even more that if we allow her to keep trying new things, she will only continue to learn and grow tenfold. And, finally, having the revelation that parenting a child who happens to have Down syndrome isn’t so different from parenting a child without it.
Oh my sweet, little blog…I have missed you! We are way overdue for our meetup.
Where do I begin? Our summer has been a whirlwind of adventures. Between the kids’ summer activities, work and trying to squeeze out a few moments of relaxation at the lake, we somehow ended up in the middle of July in a flash. So much is happening and changing in our lives, and we are stuck in a huge transitional phase right now (we’ll save this for another blog post). I have had so much on my mind lately. So much that I have not been able to keep our lives straight.
Nevermind the fact that I was an hour behind schedule for Tessa’s echocardiogram this morning. I get one pass for that, right? Ugh…I have gotten a little lax on my scheduling game since we have been out from major medical stuff for so long. I only looked at the follow-up appointment time on my planner and did not see the actually echo time. I let my mama guard down one time and screwed ourselves out of an appointment we waited nearly three months to get. Plus we drove over an hour to get there. Awesome.
So we got pedicures to alter my crappy mood. And I maybe upgraded her diva status just a bit; seeing how this was her first one. She did not hate it either. Not one bit. Sorry Dan…
I don’t know why I constantly do this to myself. I overbook my schedule and my brain with more projects than I can actually handle; sometimes by my control, other times not. Just when I think I have the tiniest bit of control, something pretty substantial pops up. That is exactly what happened today. I thought I had it all together, but really I am a freaking mess. Good thing I bought that $50 Erin Condren planner to “keep me organized.”
I honestly am just at the point now where I am all, “Sure. Let’s see where this goes, too.” It is a kind of crazy where I am throwing up the white flags in favor of random things. I have lost total control. *Sayonara Erin Condren planner! It’s been real.* What the hell…why not? One more task to check off. One more project to split my focus. One less space on my calendar. One more opportunity to fulfill. Maybe I am more spontaneous than I give myself credit for?
Nope. This is not me. I do not know how to be this person…like at all. Over-ambitious, yet entirely unprepared. That more accurately describes my current state of mind. Inspired by my dear husband who just never seems to slow down. Except these sort of things usually work out for him.
(Also…somewhere in the mix of all the craziness, I developed some sort of idiopathic form of hives–probably stress-induced–that is not showing any signs of leaving me. Ahhhh…life is good.)
Don’t get me wrong. All of this random babbling is not just about one missed appointment (even though that really toasts my almonds). This is about how unbalanced distractions blurred my present-day vision. This is about organizing and surviving chaos in the midst of transition. And you are either good at it, suck at it or a hot mess of both. Change is good. It forces me to evaluate myself and my surroundings. It also compels me to reflect on the things that define our current situation and what led us here in the first place; which is where the latter part of this post comes from.
So, I digress.
One of the qualities I love most about my husband–in all of his crazy, ambitious, creative, spontaneous glory–is that he is a dreamer. When he wants something, he just goes for it. He is not a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of guy. Hell no. He is more of a “water the crap out of my own grass until it is green on my side” kind of guy. He works his buns off and he makes his dreams a reality. That’s not to say he is risky. His plans are well thought out, and he always considers worst-case-scenarios; but his family is what inspires him to try. If his dreams are not what he had imagined, he moves onto the next; feeling satisfied that he gave it a shot. As much as it often annoys me, I admit that I envy his tenacity. It also helps that he has a knack for success and no fear of failure. He can handle the pressure.
Up until recently I was usually more reserved. I have always preferred to play it safe. As a self-proclaimed worrier, you wouldn’t have caught me even do something as simple as booking a hotel room with waterpark passes without a full blue print or map of the resort. Not joking. I would have never published a book or tried a bison burger or became a fitness coach or randomly agreed to purchase five chickens on a whim or zip-lined across a freaking canyon if my husband wasn’t there pushing me (not literally). While we both analyze the daylights out of things, I often tend to only consider worst-case-scenarios first, and then I generally obsess over them; letting fear hold me back from things I could be doing–things that are perfectly fine and normal to do…like dreaming. Where he sees opportunity, I see risk. This annoys me more.
I am trying to work on it. Clearly I am. My approach is just garbage, though. This fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants ambition is probably not my thing after all. What I have learned is that when too much is piled on my plate, I usually fall apart and pick up the pieces when I am ready.
He is the gas and I am the brakes. That is how we operate. Somehow, in some crazy way, we have figured out how to drive this little family vehicle around just fine.
I admire him so much. If it were solely up to me, we would probably not do much of anything. Because it is safer that way. Because I don’t have to defend myself to others or worry about messing something up in the stress of it all. He pushes me outside of my comfort zone and he encourages me to rise above that; always explaining to me that if we only live for others, we will never live for ourselves. That if we never try something new, we may not ever know what we are really capable of. “We only get to be here once,” he tells me, “if we can’t make the most of it, why are we here?” And he is right. No risk, no reward–even if we fail to plan it all out. Some of the best moments of our lives would have passed us by if we would have let opinions from other people or fears of our own stop us.Who knew I married a life coach?
Rounding it all back out…this awesome hubby of mine shows me that we may have to go through the crazy, hair-falling-out, stress-induced insanity in order to get where it is we want to go by doing what we know or by pushing the limits. Even if that means we forget minor things like an appointment, forget to let the dog out, or have to wash the same load of the laundry for the fourth time in a row all along the way.
Here’s a big virtual high-five to all you dreamers out there, like my hubby, who let nothing stop them from chasing their dreams. And I do mean nothing. From now on, I’ll be over here in the right lane with my cruise control set; taking the the very boring and practical route with occasional and spontaneous exits, thank you very much.
Tomorrow is a new day and new chance to sort out the madness that is my strangely beautiful life right now.