Shades of Possibilities

I never planned on being a special needs parent. I planned on raising developmentally normal children who had no disabilities of any sort.

Imagine my surprise when Bug was born.

I was one part relieved not to be pregnant with a monstrously sized belly and one part horrified to discover my perfect baby was not so perfect.

I was heart broken and disappointed and riddled with guilt for feeling anything less than pure adoration for my new child. I carried guilt for gestating this boy who was so broken, for baking him wrong, and I spent more hours of my life than I care to admit wondering what I did wrong in my pregnancy to burden my child with such disabilities.

It was hog wash of course. I did nothing wrong.

He was simply perfect in his imperfect way; biology and fate determined his path and I had no say in the matter.

It was a long road from giving birth to a disabled child to acceptance and then to love. It shames me still to know I felt anything less than the pure joy my son so rightfully deserved. It haunts me still to know I felt sorry for myself for having this less than perfect child.

I was selfish and stupid and narrow minded. I was human.

But with time came grace and for that I am grateful. With every medical battle, every diagnosis, every hard fought step of my boy's life, I loved him more. And the entire time Bug was with his he did one thing consistently and steadily. He loved. Unflinchingly.

It was through my son's life that I learned what it meant to love wholly and completely with no strings. I learned to see past the disabilities and limitations of others and see the grace and joy and purpose that people of every shape, size and ability could provide.

I was a lucky woman, even when I felt my most unluckiest.

With the birth of my third son, I was admitted into a world I never fully appreciated, one beyond the fringes of my reality and one I often turned a blind eye to.

It is a world filled with people of various special needs who all have one thing in common. They are as human as I am.

My son's death almost destroyed me. With his absence he took with him my passport to this special world most people don't enter and I was devastated not only to have lost my child but my identity as a participant to the special needs world.

Many in my real life never understood why I was so heart broken to no longer be involved in this world. They never understood the value of loving and living with a special needs person.

They never understood how living with someone whose needs are so spectacularly different than most could be fulfilling. They didn't understand how stepping outside oneself to cheer on and support a person with different abilities could ultimately redefine everything I knew to be true.

But that is what raising Shale did for me. It guided me to becoming a better mother and (I like to think) a better person. He made me whole in a way I never understood I wasn't whole before.

Jumby's adoption brought that back into my life. Jumby's love has helped heal our family from Shale's death. His joy and his hope have helped knit the scars on our hearts tightly together so that we can feel again.

I will never be whole. My wholeness was shattered irrevocably the moment Shale took his last breath. But the gifts he bestowed upon those who loved him remain. The knowledge we gained living with him continues on and propels us forward.

He gave us hope and purpose and love.

And now it's my job to do the same, to pass that along to the brother he never met and to every other person in the world who is over looked because the world sees them differently due to the nature of their abilities and limitations.

Shale and Jumby taught me the only real limitations in life are the ones you impose on yourself. Learn to dream big, even if it means dreaming differently.

That's what the athletes of the Special Olympics are doing.

Dreaming big.

Dreaming different.

They are dreaming.

And succeeding.

And thanks to Procter and Gamble supporting The Special Olympics,  most specifically the Moms, more people are able to see these athletes see their dreams to fruition. With P&G stepping up to the plate to donate a dollar (up to $250,000) to support Team USA’s journey to Athens every time you leave a comment, like or share the Thank You Mom campaign on facebook more athletes will get to dream their dreams.

More mothers will get to see the joy of knowing their son or daughter have succeeded in inspiring families like mine. Mothers like me who dream in only shades of possibilities instead of improbabilities.

Thank you Procter and Gamble for supporting families like mine.