Our house is overflowing with books. On shelves, night stands, in the kids’ rooms and in the car. I love to read, so it made sense that books would be my go-to resource when Matthew was born.
And it worked. His problems came one at a time and were easily resolved with enough information.
Helen was entirely different. Her problems didn’t come in a neat, single file line. They came like a hailstorm without shelter. And the books weren’t helpful. Finally, I dumped all my best parenting books in our recycle bin raging at their inadequate advice. Those books were based on the assumption that your child had a healthy, fully functioning brain and nervous system. Which, of course, Helen did not. So I switched gears. Now all my “free time” was spent on neurological systems, irregular development and other fun reads. I read until my head was swimming and my eyes burned.
We made progress, but had no peace. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong.
Then we heard some advice from a couple we hardly know.
Embrace your life.
Not the life you should have had. Not the life you wanted.
But the life right in front of you.
It was one of those moments where the whole world comes down to two very different choices and you know everything is riding on the one you follow. We took a step towards embracing and it changed everything.
All that reading and research could not solve my problem, because Helen is not a problem to be solved.
She’s my daughter.
I was using all that information to try to create the life I wanted, not the one we were actually living. And, in the process, I was missing Helen. My sweet girl who has taught me more about love and beauty in her nearly 4 years than anyone else in the whole world. I love her.
I’ll keep reading, but only to the point that it helps me understand who she is right now. I won’t give up hoping, but I’m learning to let go of what I can’t have so I can hold with both hands all the good we’ve been given. It’s painful, gut-wrenching work.
I think my head finally understands. And, maybe, my heart is almost ready to follow.