What I hear a lot from other parents of children with developmental disabilities – and disabilities in general – is about how they’ve had to put so much of their lives on hold for their children. I’m not quite talking just about the usual “well, we have kids so we can’t do X, Y and Z anymore,” and more about the “well, there goes that” kind of attitude.
I think that’s part of the problem and weight that we shoulder with a child who has difficulties. It’s one thing to compromise our own hopes and dreams to concentrate on our kids, it’s another to set them wholly on the wayside. It’s that weight that makes it so hard to bear.
We have to have freedom to pursue our dreams… else you’re just living for your kids.
My wife is a big example of this. Before we had children, and before the Monster was diagnosed with Autism, she used to audition for and take roles in local theater groups. Performing on stage is something she really enjoys, and she’s a very talented mezzo-soprano. But what’s been holding her back, I feel, is this concern that she’s doing the “wrong thing” by spending a few hours a week in rehearsals (on top of her once-a-week choir rehearsals) when we have a child at home who has special needs.
While it’s noble and all that… holding yourself back, I think, is just a recipe for being frustrated and miserable in the long term. It just fosters resentment for the situation which can’t help with the harder nights, or with dealing with the rest of the world who can do those things. (Plus, let’s be honest folks – no one wants to hear about our difficulties with our kids all the time. Having other things going on in our lives gives us something more to talk about when we’re out with our friends and families.)
So we’ve been pushing in a different direction, lately. I encouraged my wife to actually go out for auditions for a local group – one she’s performed with previously – that’s putting on Les Miserables this summer. While she didn’t get a part in the production, it’s at least opened the door to getting her to audition more in the future.
On my part, I got my rejection from the Israeli Curling Team last night. There’s a very, very long story in there – the short form being that I noticed an article in Tablet discussing that the Israeli curling federation was looking for curlers, and I fired off an email, simply asking about how one becomes a member of their national federation. (I’m a member in good standing, obviously, of the USCA since I curl here in the ‘States.) By the time a few emails had gone back and forth, I’d found myself actually in a pool of North American curlers being considered for their competitive team. Like my wife, I managed to get a good way through the process, but… the notification came last night that I’m not being invited to the final in-person try-outs in Minnesota next month. I made it down to the last 25, but didn’t make it into the final pool of talent being considered.
And that’s okay. The point of having, and pursuing, dreams is to make the effort. And isn’t that good example to be making for our kids, special needs or no?