Living a Different Dream. That’s what happens when you’ve spent 9 months expecting and dreaming of your child who will become all that YOU have dreamed they will do with their lives. Then, they are born, and the dreams you have are shattered and temporarily replaced fear, sorrow, and despair. Over time, those feelings give way to hope, accomplishment, struggle, fatigue, joy and so many others as milestones are met, or missed. You watch as your child struggles to master simple tasks that other children their age learn with ease and minimal assistance. It’s a journey that many parents know and live everyday of their lives. All the days we are granted with our children are good days. Some are simply better than others. And then one day, you begin to see life through their eyes. And you begin to realize that they have NO concept of the expectations you set for them before they were born. They don’t really pay attention to the fact that they are “different.” They have an innocence that cannot be compared. They dream in their own way and in ways their parents and siblings could never imagine. They live life with a freedom and conviction that it, life, should be enjoyed to the fullest. The small details of life that consume yours and my everyday are not even a blimp on their radars. They love with a deeper compassion and sincerity than I have ever witnessed. There is a light in their eyes that burns bright as long as they are assured of the love of those closest to them.
And their parents? They learn from their Different Dream Children on a daily basis. They learn what matters, and what is insignificant. They learn to love unconditionally, because after all to their child’s condition demands it. They wake up early and go to bed late. They labor in prayer over the future of their special child’s life; a life not granted to all children with disabilities or disorders. They are a Mama Bear in defense mode 24/7 to ensure that no one hurts their innocent cub. They sit through IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings and talk extensively about which life skills we need to work on next and which field trip will teach their preteen what money is and how it should be used; some are never able to learn this skill. These Different Dream Parents still have hopes and dreams for their children, but now, they are different. Now, their dream is to do anything and everything they can to make sure their child is successful. A lot of times that success is as simple as a child learning how to turn a door knob and then throwing a celebration that would rival that of an Olympic Gold Medalist.
Are you a Different Dream Family? Perhaps you know a child or a parent that fits into the description above, though it fails to capture the fullness, is a fair glimpse.
I am one of those parents. And today I was reminded that we are a Different Dream Family. And I love this. Some days are better than others, but my sweet girl always makes sure to remind me that what matters, matters; and what doesn’t matter, well … doesn’t! Sometimes we miss it as parents and our kids remind us!
My challenge to Different Dream Parents is this: take time today to see the world through your Different Dream Child. What do they see? What is their perspective? And once you know, enter into their world and just be with them, on their level, in that moment.
For those of you that know of a family living a different dream, you can get involved, too! Did you know that a good deal of the feedback Different Dream Parents receive is negative? That encouragement does not have many faces? Most of the praise and attention is spent on the child and their accomplishments and I believe this to be wonderful and essential. You can help though. Offer a “Good job,” or “Way to go,” the next time you see that parent. Let them know that you see their struggle and that it’s not in vain and that despite the less than better days, they are appreciated! I would not be surprised if you saw those parent’s eyes well up with tears.