When one member of a family is identified as having “special needs” the entire unit becomes a “Family with Special Needs.” There is little about how we function that isn’t somehow structured in a deliberate way to encourage the best possible outcomes, interactions and moments for all of us. We have an outdoor playhouse inside so there’s somewhere to climb during all four seasons, ditto the swing upstairs. Around items we don’t want a power struggle the kids each have their own same item, such as their treasured kindles. Yet, to push the goal of sharing and turn-taking, there are several items of which there are one, such as the sled. Don’t let me kid you, there’s plenty of disorganization, too much paper, more than one junk drawer and ample broken toys we haven’t sifted through. You pegged it, normal mayhem. The truth simply is, special needs made our normal mayhem more conscious. One of the gifts in that, truthfully, is that I don’t miss much anymore. I’m awake.
- I notice when my kids squabble, and remember when they didn’t talk to each other.
- I notice when they giggle, and how my son has always played and performed to get a response from Sage (once resulting in a horrible fall and trip in an ambulance he still talks about).
- I notice when he writes her a letter, and when she reads it and says, “awww, how sweet.”
- We tear up when a friend leads her out of the room, “Come on Sage, let me show you…” and she follows enthusiastically.
- We pay attention when Noah feels extra responsible for her and worried about her, and we notice when he forgets for a bit and remembers to let himself be a kid.
I’ve mentioned before that one gift parenting has given me is the ability to live in the present moment. We all comment on how quickly time seems to pass, how fast they grow, and how even when “the days feel so very long, the years seem so very short (Gretchen Rubin).” The only way I’ve found to slow time is to be grateful for it. While the stresses and strains of life can lead me to complain and gripe as much as the next person, when I can connect with my gratitude I find that time slows down just a bit. Last night, when I asked my daughter what she was going to dream about (our evening ritual), she answered “school, and running with you and Noah! What are you going to dream about tonight?”
STOP. TEAR. GRATITUDE.
She’s never asked me about me before. Isn’t that something? While I may also be grateful for things that rock my world, I no longer wait for them. If I did, I’d miss the thousands of little tiny treasures that make, quite literally, my days. Each day, life dares my family to be moved. Amidst the structured chaos that is our life, wonder, delight and gratitude find their way through every crevice. How might you dare yourself to be moved today?