I’ve taught children with disabilities for nearly a decade. Going into this parenting gig, I thought I knew a little something — don’t we all? Don’t we all think that we can parent better than the mom with the kid screaming in the grocery cart, or the dad giving candy to the baby? We think we know. We don’t know.
This weekend, I was cleaning out the shed outside our house, making room for toys and things. I stumbled upon all our camping gear and was struck by the long list of things that we may never do. We went camping once this past summer. It will be a long, long time before I consider doing that again. We’re day-tripping people now. Diva’s getting too big for most backpacks now, and so even many trails are off limits. We can’t go to family weddings, because we’d have to travel too far and too publicly. We had planned to celebrate our adoption by going to Disney. Then, we postponed that trip. And now it’s been postponed again. I think we’ll get there, eventually, but I make no promises on when or how long.
And, all the things I took for granted… We rarely take Little Man to the library. The expectations of the environment are overwhelming, and he spins into a whirlwind of running and fear. We might be pulling him from Sunday school. It seems to be too much, at least right now. I don’t know if he will ever attend public school. I am thrilled when he remembers the name of a friend that he has known for months, when he says good-bye, when he says hello, when people want to be around him and his dimpled, charming self. The cats and the children are still mostly separated. It’s all those little things that we never thought about.
I almost cried, staring at the sleeping bags and the tent. I almost cried today, aching for the lazy Sunday morning and book store afternoons that I dreamed of sharing with my children. Our life… I don’t even have the smallest clue what it might look like in another year, much less ten. Then, Little Man tripped and fell over one of the sleeping bags in the floor. He unwrapped it and laid snuggled up while watching Curious George. I finished putting together the shed things, including a big bag of beach toys.
We’re beach people now. We roll with it. We don’t count on big dreams or plans for the future. We love. We sigh. We let the saltiness of the tears mix in with the waves crashing on our feet. We know storms will come, storms with uncertain tracks and unknown intensities. Storms that will shake us up, spit us out, break us, or carry us out to sea. We used to pretend we knew. We all pretend to know. Well, here’s what I think now — you can know, or you can live. We choose to live.