When you look into the crib upon your sleeping baby, and you’re waiting for medical test results, it’s time to make your pact with God.
Mine went something like this: “Please, God, please let me keep her. Please let her be healthy. And if I can keep her, I’ll only ever ask of you one more thing for her, that she be happy.” So that’s it, my complete list of aspirations for my daughter.
When you are desperate, you will whittle your wish list to what matters most. It’s an excruciating exercise for every parent whose child is diagnosed with special needs.
Gone are a string of ambitious adjectives – smart, talented, athletic, college bound, successful – plus a litany of reach-for-the-sky nouns – doctor, nurse, teacher, astronaut, musician, wife, mother – that are not to be for this child.
We had to let go of so many high hopes and replace them with different ones, like walking and talking.
Unexpectedly, we found ourselves rejoicing in the small milestones and miracles in her life, like walking and talking. These have come to us as a joyous bonus, because health and happiness would have been enough.
Which got me to wondering, if health and happiness are good enough for this child, aren’t they good enough for my other kids too? Hmm.
The answer was yes, and the realization changed me for the better. I became a more laid-back mom (an oxymoron, if you ask my kids, who still insist I was the world’s strictest mom because they had to make their beds in the morning, and nobody’s mom was that mean).
Having a child with special needs has made me more sensitive to life’s essential priorities for all my children, and health and happiness are at the top. The rest is frosting on the cake.
My job is to be the kind of parent who helps them make their own dreams – not mine – come true.
Whether you are wishing on birthday candles, stars, or dandelions, what’s your simplest, purest wish for your child?