Saturday, January 31, 2015
Time to Dream Again
It's time to dream again...
Yesterday a friend shared a video with me on Facebook titled "They Said This Girl With Down Syndrome Would Never Sing. Her Response? Stunning." This beautiful, twelve-year-old girl has overcome the common hindrances associated with Down syndrome, including low muscle tone (which affects the mouth as well), a low-pitched voice, and poor short-term memory, and has worked diligently to learn to sing. In the video she sang a beautiful song with a fairly broad vocal range and hundreds of memorized words; she even had a sinus infection while doing so! She has defied the limits that others have placed on her due to her genetic condition, and she desires to inspire as many people as possible. As the video came to a close, I suddenly realized how desperately I was in need of this encouragement.
When you are raising a child with special needs, new layers of grief will undoubtedly emerge from time to time. Sometimes they hit as huge, crashing waves that feel as though they will pull you under. Other times you feel their impact as small ripples pressing against you as you walk through your very ordinary days. Lately, I've been experiencing the ripple effect...
I felt the ripples after Benjamin's recent bath time. I helped my big boy lay down on his towel that is almost too small for him as I dried him off and fitted him in a clean diaper. As I dressed my five-and-a-half year old, I encouraged him to assist me in the small ways that he is currently capable of doing. I found myself saying, "Benjamin, you need to learn to dress yourself. Mommy doesn't want to still be dressing you when you're ten." At the same time I wondered if I would be.
I've felt the ripples as Benjamin yells in frustration when he wants something or things aren't going his way. We have been trying to curb this behavior and encourage him to utilize the few communication skills he does have. My heart hurts for him. I know he desperately wants to communicate, and at times he probably feels so overwhelmed. I wonder when he will finally be able to speak his first word.
I've felt the ripples as I've observed his very limited interests in play, which often involve pulling the handle on his See n' Say or twirling a stuffed animal in front of him. I've felt them as he actively resists anything new, and I wonder when his play will finally begin to progress. When will he start using his imagination? When will he be willing to roll a ball back and forth for more than 30 seconds, or push a toy car, or build with blocks, or color a picture?
I've felt the ripples as I've watched my small toddler quickly passing her big brother in so many areas of development. How long will he behave as a very small child?
Sometimes the ripples are subtle enough that I don't even recognize that I've been confronted with grief again. Watching that inspirational video helped me to recognize where I've been and encouraged me to start dreaming again for my son. His present delays and challenges are not the final say in what his future will hold. His current limitations do not define his potential for growth. This seemingly endless season is just that--a season. It will pass. I've been reminding myself of how very far Benjamin has come in the last few years. I'm reminding myself of what a miracle his little life has been so far. I'm reminding myself of the many lives he's already touched just being him. I'm reminding myself of God's promises over his life. I'm reminding myself that the One who knit my son together in my womb is the God of his past, his present, and his future, and with Him all things are possible.
It's time to dream again!