Joyful Journys

Monday, January 4, 2010

Do you know those moments when you're watching TV, or listening to the radio, or reading a blog, that you hear something that makes a connection between your feelings and the lost words to describe them? That light bulb suddenly clicks on and you're brought to a place of greater understanding of your own feelings that have been dwelling inside of you. Affirmation.

I had one of those moments this past week.

There are really only two shows that Mike and I thoroughly enjoy following closely. You know the one already. That's The Office. The other is House.

We were watching a past episode in Season 5 of House where a special needs teacher fell sick and was at the mercy of Dr. House's brilliant Sherlock Holmes skills in diagnosing, in order to save her life. During the patient's exam, another doctor complimented her for being a teacher to children with special needs telling her that it's a great thing what she does.

Her response was the moment my feelings connected with the words that can express what I feel everyday with Cayman.

The teacher's words:

Most kids, typical children, you hand them a pair of scissors and they cut. Well, Tony, he's got CP, and when I gave him scissors we went on a journey together; learning to get his fingers in those holes, to hold the scissors apart, to hold the paper. When he finally learned to cut we both just wept with joy.

I wish, through typed words, I could add the spoken tone that that dear teacher used. She felt such joy and wonderment for sharing in this kind of amazing journey.

I connected with this because I know those kinds of rewarding journeys too! We have gone on many of our own.

Learning to drink from a bottle when Cayman was only a month old, was a 3 week journey...

Learning how to eat pureed food and then chewing actual bites. She just recently mastered the latter one...

Learning how to clap her hands was a 2 week journey...

Learning the "touchdown" signal, a 2 month journey...

Learning how to sit independently, an 8 month journey...

With each thing Cayman learns, the joy that follows that journey is a complete amplified experience of deliriously happy emotions. This type of joy is incomparable to anything I have ever experienced before! There is so much excitement and charm everyday in raising a child like Cayman. A child that needs extra care and help in accomplishing much of life's adventures. It's definitely not convenient and that was the part that worried me a lot when I was pregnant with her but it's not even close to what my mind thought "Holland" would be like. It's way better than any of my expectations of "Italy" even.

I am filled with gratitude to be in the very spot that I am as a mother.

And yesterday was yet another moment when we wept with joy as Cayman finally learned how to drink from a sippy cup after a seven month journey. (Pictures of that coming soon!)


Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a 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.

Photo by Kim Fordham Photography

17 Showin' Comment Love:

ABandCsMom said...

I can relate on this post. Others, I'm sure, think we're all crazy for finding such joy in every new, even simple task our kiddos master. Carly has flash cards that we use. Over the weekend, she picked up the words Are and It. Upon picking them up, she also read them out loud. After I nearly fainted, I cried. Tears of joy! Can't stop thanking God every day for this precious little girl that He gave to our family 8 years ago.

Katie said...

We LOVE House!

I loved that episode! I felt the same way about the teachers words.

WOW the journeys we go on with our kids....

but the rewards for us are SO great because....

it didn't just happen it was work.


Isn't it worth it?

Get chocked up each time I read the poem Holland and I LOVE it more each time!

Angie said...

I can so relate!! Every little thing Joey does just amazes me. He has come such a long way and I couldn't be more proud :)

I love love love the poem about Holland. I read it as much as I can!

Cayman is just precious by the way :) Such a pretty girl!

Amy J. said...

I remember that episode and that statement is so sweet. I had read the Holland example before but I enjoyed so much more this time.

Sheila Smith said...

Seriously. Making me cry this morning before I even had my first cup of coffee?!?! Not fair! :) Loved your post...

Josephine said...

Lovely post. It's nice to know that other people can really understand your feelings and experiences because they have them too.

Tara said...

Every little accomplishment warms my heart so much! Whenever Michelle or Abigail or James or Shawn does something new It excites me that much more! Yay for drinking from a cup! We too are teaching Abigail to drink from a cup. It's not going that great!

The Other Mother said...

*Yay* Cayman! Our cousin, Laura Leppla, always shares with us the new and exciting milestones Cayman accomplishes. We are so proud of her! Y'all were such a joy to meet a year ago at Christmastime! I bet Cayman couldn't have asked for a better set of parents like you! <3 xoxo

Tyler said...

Your posts amaze me everyday. Those words are so true.

Here's to many more rewarding journeys we have with our kiddos.

Diane, Tyler's mom

Tsquared417 said...

Beautiful. I think this every day...that I am so very lucky to be Olivia's mom b/c not only do I appreciate all of her journeys, but I know I appreciate the boys' more as well. Thank you for this beautiful post and reminder!!

Mary said...

Great post! Aren't we lucky that our kids are taking us on this journey.

Lindsey said...

From the perspective of one WITH a disability- how lucky for myself (and Cayman too!) that ours are such amazing parents to steer our journeys to Holland. Can't even imagine my life without my "captain." Cayman is so fortunate to have such parents... I often wish I could distribute little pieces of your open-mindedness, patience & joy to the parents of students I work with. It's such a delight to read your posts! Celebrate every small success- this is what life is for!

I hope you don't mind if I re-post the story about Holland. I really enjoyed the parallels! Also enjoyed the Christmas sequels- Happy Holidays to all of you!! :)

Lisa said...

So beautifully written.

I understand your thoughts...completely.

Cheryl said...

What a beautiful post!! So thankful Cayman has wonderful parents to make this journey with her.
My "foster" daughter will turn 20 in a few days and she wasn't suppose to live to be 2!! She is such a joy along with the struggles. I'm so thankful God gave her to ME to share the journey.
Cayman is just adorable. I enjoy your blog very much. My daughter went to church with the Leplas.

therextras said...

Those moments feed our hearts and souls! Affirmation is definitely the correct word - a worthy post!

Barbara

Molly said...

I remember when she learned to clap!!!

I totally forgot about this quote, but it SO rings true. I work with a boy named Tariq. When he passes me and he says "hi molly. how was your day. high five" in his deep voice, I giggle like a schoolgirl. This is a boy with autism. He's 13. He can put the biggest smile on my face with just a few words. It doesn't matter that it is 9 am when he's asking me how my day was. He's TALKING to me. He's engaging me. He's relating to me. and that is the best thing ever.

Our Little Finch Flock said...

Your baby is beautyful and it appears she is blessed to have such a wonderful and loving mom!