Friday, January 14, 2011

2011...a new year...a new beginning?

Now that 2010 is behind us, Doug and I are able to look back at everything that took place and with a sigh of relief say, "wow, we made it!" Honestly, I never thought we would get through the year in one piece... and yet we did! The year 2010 has been the most challenging year of our lives.

Our son, Joshua, was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus in February 2010. Before I ever set eyes on my son, I was told about all of the struggles he would endure throughout his life; the many surgeries, the endless doctors visits, and yes the physical challenges that were ahead of him. Before Doug could hold his son's small little hand, he was told that he would probably never play baseball and would most likely never walk. That broke our hearts.

Thank you God for bringing 2010 to a close. Thank you God for giving us the strength to get through all of the struggles that we faced. Thank you God for filling my son, Joshua, with so much courage that he came out of each of his 4 surgeries with a smile on his face. Thank you God for holding Abby's hand through it all so that she would know that her little brother would be okay. And, thank you God, because with you by our side and always watching over our son, we know that HE CAN PLAY BASEBALL AND HE CAN WALK and if he his little body chooses not to..... then THAT IS OKAY!

Now that 2010 is behind us, we can look forward to all of the amazing new experiences we get to share with our son. We are the lucky ones, and we thank you God for picking us to be his parents.

"Welcome to Holland"

These beautiful words are written by Emily Perl Kingsly, the mother of a special little boy with Down Syndrome. They describe perfectly a mother's perspective on raising a child with "special needs."

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.