A wonderful thing happened last night. At least it’s wonderful in my mind. I’m going to just tell the truth here. I know there are some who think it’s wrong to have certain views or feelings, and even if you do you’re not supposed to say them out loud, you might offend someone. I don’t believe that is helpful to anyone. If you don’t acknowledge your feelings, or you are not allowed to express them, you will never get past them. You will never hear other points of view that can help change your way of seeing things. How can becoming defensive and more withdrawn because you are afraid and feeling guilty lead to acceptance?
Last night my husband and I went to my daughter’s open house at school. The school is an all special-needs school an hour away from our home, so we don’t have the chance for a lot of face-to-face involvement unfortunately. Since this is her last year we didn’t know how useful open house would be, but she wanted us there so badly, and there was no way we were going to disappoint her.
I have to admit that the older she got, the harder it got for me to see the differences in what stage she was at and what she was capable of and the “typical” kids her age. It wasn’t that I wanted or needed her to change, but I was so sad about what I thought she was missing out on. My sadness became blinders, because I couldn’t see the fullness her life already had.
Something changed inside me over the last couple of years. As I saw kids who were disrespectful, mean, yelling swear words, making messes, and treating their parents like crap I realized I did not want my sweet, innocent, good-hearted baby girl to change who she was at all. I realized how blessed I was to still be called Mommy, still leave cookies for Santa, and to have a child who knew right from wrong and didn’t know how to be mean or disrespectful.
Two years ago I went to see my daughter promenade before the prom. I sat in the school cafeteria, in a room full of “disabled” children, and cried. I wanted so much for them to be accepted by “typical” teenagers, and to have normal dates and parties and proms. I didn’t know to feel guilty about it because I thought I was wanting it for her, I was sad for her.
Last night was amazing. We got to the school and she was so excited saying “hi” to all of her friends and hear all of them say “hi Rach!” She was so proud to give us a tour and introduce us to everyone. I never knew she was so proud that her dad was an electrician and works “every day and week for us”, and that she thought everyone else there should love him too! I saw her sitting with her friends in their classrooms smiling and joking. It was amazingly happy.
On the way home, my husband told me that he had been thinking for a long time about what I had been saying, and that I am right. Rachel is Rachel, and she’s Daddy’s girl, and she is perfect for just who she is. And I realized that last night not one sad thought entered my mind. All I saw were kids being kids, and roomfuls of proud parents. I realized that I was proud to be there, and that this world we were in was perfectly normal and perfect. I realized that no matter what we go through with epilepsy, or how difficult the behaviors can be that have to be addressed, we are now happy as a family, and we feel complete, and our normal is no different or less than anyone else’s. We just are, and we no longer would want to change a thing.