I am so excited that I can't hardly stand it! Our first Guest Blogger!! Please welcome with me:
Sandy Van Orden:
"Our son was 4 months old when I noticed when he was different.
He ate like any other baby. He slept like any other baby. He cried....well, his cry was unusual. I know now he was having seizures, but it took three months to figure that out. And by the end of those three months, my husband and I were sleeping on a cot in a hospital, next to our chubby, little seven-month-old strapped to a bed. And it was that uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and undesirable cot that would become a metaphor for the news we would receive about our son's challenges for the future.
Fast forward through seven l-o-n-g years of news. To be fair, there was a lot of good news! My son's alive today though the doctors wondered aloud if he would be. He is not retarded though they speculated he might be. And he's not epileptic though all signs indicated he ought to be. But there was bad news, too. He has challenges. Some brutal ones. He's got delays. Some heartbreaking ones. He's not, well...typical.
And there's the rub. Until I no longer had it, I never appreciated the beauty of normal. Nor did I understand the allure of the typical child until I was faced with raising a son who wasn't one. I had spent 9 months dreaming dreams for my first little boy. And they could not have been more different than our reality. I'd envisioned him learning to crawl in our living room, not in the neurologist's office. I'd pictured scheduling our lives around t-ball games, not in-home therapy appointments. I'd imagined my son the most popular boy in the school...not the last one to be picked for a team. I had banked on normal. But my dream of normal disintegrated right before my very eyes.
The death of a dream...whatever the dream may be...hurts. Not just hurts - it throbs. For some of us, our dreams are crushed through the news that our child has extra or different needs. But for others of us, they decimated by a husband who claims he's fallen out of love. Or by the news that our physical bodies are failing us. Some of us are swimming upstream through financial ruin, job loss, rebellious children or abuse. Dreams can be dismantled in more ways than one. And each way is hard.
But it's in the hard where we find common ground. yes, the discovery that our child is different can be a cruel and merciless one. We grieve, mourn, and weep at this new, callous truth that has so thoughtlessly invaded our lives. But sorrow isn't reserved for the parents of special needs children.
All women understand loss. We all understand wounds. We understand despair. We know what it's like to be overwhelmed and under-prepared. And it's on the bridge where we meet. The women with typical children...and the women with atypical children.
The death of a dream...any dream...calls for compassion, not advice. It calls for understanding, not judgement. It calls for unity, not abandonment. It calls for hugs! (Lots of them!) It calls for prayer.
It calls for a friend. Not an us and them. It calls for an us plus them.
So how can you be a plus in someone's life when her life seems so different from your own?
1. Listen first. Advise only if and when she asks.
2. Meet practical needs. Does she need meals? A running partner? A babysitter? A maid? Discover the need and meet it.
3. Ask direct questions, and listen thoughtfully. She will appreciate your interest in the specifics of her child's challenges and in the progress (if any) her child is making.
4. Laugh with her. It's good medicine.
5. Pray for your friend. She needs it.
Take the time to walk in someone else's shoes. When you do, you will bless your friend. You will become vital and irreplaceable part of her new dream for her child. And, in time as she's able, she'll pass along to someone else who needs it what you've given her_love, hope, and the courage to dream new."