Someone asked me last week what I would be doing with my life had I not had my girl. Had she not been born with a disability. Would my life have unfolded to a point where I am also professionally supporting people and families with disabilities?
To me that is a question that has no definite answer. She does have a disability and this is what I am most passionate about. Certainly there are days when I envision myself in a green apron saying, “welcome to Starbucks” but those days are overshadowed by the path that I am on and the meaning that I gain from being on this path.
She was far from an easy baby. She cried all the time, she hated to be held, and she rarely smiled. By toddlerhood she was fixated on certain things and her stubbornness was evident. I questioned myself and I questioned why it was so hard to connect with her.
Childhood began to bring the uniqueness that is her. It brought opportunities to grow and to accept. She gave me reasons to expand myself. She paved the path for teaching me to advocate. She reminded me of the joy that is available with simplicity.
Her teen years have offered me more lessons in acceptance and gratitude than I believe can be reached otherwise. I do not have drama like many homes that have teenage girls; makeup, clothes, boys, and driving. I do not have costly trips to the hair salon and latest fashion. Instead, I have comfort and practicality. I witness the experience of simple joy in a new book and a trip to the ice cream shop.
I woke up this morning thinking of what I could have done differently but soon realized that the feeling of sadness I was experiencing was not because I didn’t do my best at the time, but instead the sadness is because it has gone so fast. I would love to be able to go back and re-do some of the moments. I would like to re-do the infancy when she cried all the time and show compassion instead of frustration. I would re-do early childhood and I would have listened better. I would have been less worried about things that were meaningless and more worried about my reactions.
Today she is 17 and today I celebrate that path that we have been given. The path that she has helped create is carefully laid with stones of discovery and lessons. She is my gift.
I celebrate her. I celebrate me. I celebrate the path. Without her just as she is, I wouldn’t be me just as I am.