I think that this will be my new mantra. I have always tried hard to find the humor in every situation. Granted some days it is a LOT easier than others and some days I just lose the ability. It’s not that I don’t struggle with emotion, deal with sadness, and on and on… it’s more that once I’m over it… I’m over it. I’m not someone to be bitter about something that happened years after it happened. Really? I have a hard enough time remembering what happened yesterday. I cannot fathom having to remember what someone did to upset me years ago. Furthermore, this carries over to nearly every aspect of my life and probably most notably my manner of parenting a special needs child.
I’ve somewhat struggled to acclimate into mom groups, as I firmly believe we *all* do, because I don’t really fit in with any general stereotype. I’m too soggy for granola moms and too crunchy for mainstream moms. Then throw in the fact that my kid gets fed through a tube, doesn’t speak yet, and is in a wheelchair? Well… let’s just say showing up to a mom group without any explanation would be about as likely as walking into church naked and not having someone ask what the heck was going on. It just doesn’t happen. Furthermore? A special needs kid? For some reason? Makes people feel like they are entitled to ask you anything that pops into their head. I went through a phase where I’d immediately hop on the defense. Then? One day a woman asked a question and for some reason it clicked that the most offensive questions asked are typically only offensive due to the fact that ignorance of the asker inhibits them from even considering the fact that their words may cause harm. Certainly you’ll run across the random jerk who is out for venom but really truly I think about 95% of people have no ill intent. Also? I’ve realized that all too often the children who stare… do so because they’ve been reprimanded for asking questions. So, instead of staring back (as I have done a time or two 😉 ) I’ve now made it a habit to get to their level and say “Did you have a question you wanted to ask?” and I’ve yet to have a child ask something that wasn’t completely benign.
All of that to say… I’ve regained a sense of levity. It never completely left. I never lost my ability to take a joke… but I’d gotten to the point where sometimes I was nervous to make them. I got to a point where I was nervous to offend. Nervous to let lose and be me! Luckily I have an ever-expanding group of people who “get” me. People who know that my heart is in the right place and that I don’t say things with the intent of hurting the feelings of others. They get the fact that really? we have two options here. We can choose to wallow in self-pity oooor we can choose to focus on the good and laugh at the difference. It’s the contrast of focusing on the things that we are unable to do versus drawing our attention to the things that we can do… and letting the rest of it roll off our backs through humor. We’re choosing the latter at this point and for certain? We’re doing it with a group of people who know us well enough to know that we aren’t out to offend we are just out to show people that with a little bit of laughter it’s a lot easier to get to know people who at first glance aren’t “typical.”
A friend of mine made this shirt for Alyssa…
and it seriously makes me laugh every time I even think about it. Certainly… we all know she isn’t just in it for the parking. After all… as my friend’s father pointed out? She can’t even park 😉 LOL!! The thing is… I’m not out to undermine her disability or even to make it seem as if it is all worth it for the parking. The shirt for me? It symbolizes the fact that as we guide our daughter through life we will guide her to have the ability to laugh at her difference rather than cry about it. Certainly there will be days she is sad that she can’t do everything typical kiddos can do. We’ll be here to snuggle her extra on those days. On the other hand? She does things every day that typical kiddos can’t do. We’ll be here to remind her of how amazing she truly is.
It’s all a matter of showing her that life is too short to take everything seriously. Above all? People can only tear you down if you give them the ability. Yeah words can hurt but what a blessing to be able to turn it around with humor and make someone realize that the next time they think of saying something… they may want to think twice. I feel so grateful to be surrounded by family and friends who remind me so often that laughter truly is the best medicine. I know that Alyssa will walk, or roll 😉 , through life with a sense of humor about the differences she faces. After all… I think it would be pretty impossible to grow up surrounded by the people she is and not know how to laugh!! It all goes back to one of my favorite sayings: “If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?” Once we learn to let go and laugh about our struggles… they don’t feel like struggles at all! Today I feel lucky and grateful to have friends in our lives and to have the laughter that they bring with them!