Core workout

My manic burst of organizational energy has just about run its course.  What started as a simple, seasonal update of the girls closet turned into four days of nonstop building, sorting, donating, and trashing that have made the house much more agreeable to live in.  Now I just have to clean the place.

Of course I can’t seem to do anything without some kind of internal drama, but fortunately the combination of Zoloft, Ambien, and Yoga have even tempered that this week.  Still I wondered–as I put into storage the rest of the “infant things”– if I’d ever see to use those items again….burp rags, changing pads, nursing bras, baby wraps, and swaddlers.  (However, I gladly toted three grocery bags full of bottles to church for whatever they want to do with them, I never want to see those again.)  But there are those other things that I didn’t quite get to use the way I’d planned with Hope, and wonder if I ever will…or if I want to.

I thought a lot about some of the comments from the speaker at last weeks final training, she made a big deal over the loss of “core dreams,” described in the handout as:

Parents attach to children through core-level dreams, fantasies, illusions, and projections into the future. Disability dashes these cherished dreams. The impairment, not the child, irreversibly spoils a parent’s fundamental, heart-felt yearning. Disability shatters the dreams, fantasies, illusions, and projections into the future that parents generate as part of their struggle to accomplish basic life missions. Parents of impaired children grieve for the loss of dreams that are key to the meaning of their existence, to their sense of being. Recovering from such a loss depends on one’s ability to separate from the lost dream, and to generate new, more attainable, dreams.

As she talked about her core dreams for her child that was born with a disability, I found myself thinking, “I’m glad I didn’t have that problem.”  I know it might seem odd, but I can’t really say that I have huge “dreams” for either of my girls.  I just want them to be happy, and not in prison.  Of course I have expectations, but I didn’t have kids to be the athlete, dancer, or musician I never was.  So I kind of thought that I was catching a break on this one, sure my expectations for Hope will be different than I previously thought, but — if anything — my dreams for my children are that they will make the world a better place and there is no reason that Hope cannot still accomplish that much.

But I realized this week that I did have a core dream, or maybe ‘remembered’ is more accurate.  It wasn’t a dream for my children, but a dream for me.  Here is what it looked liked…three little kids, gender unimportant, dressed in matching red & black checkered flannel pajamas, under the Christmas tree opening presents.  The same three little kids, baking, decorating, and eating Christmas cookies just like I used to do with my grandmother.  In spring, those three little kids would make a bunny cake and decorate easter eggs, just like grandma again.  I’d teach them to bake, to cook, and we’d have big holiday celebrations just like the ones I grew up with, with fantastic spreads of food.  Maybe, in the second stage of my career, I’d go to culinary school and maybe, just maybe, someday we’d open a little restaurant somewhere.

You get where I’m going with this.

Oddly, it’s not the food stuff I was focused on this week and even as I typed this out I was struck how ambivalent I felt about the topic.  Maybe I’m still in denial there, I don’t know.  No, what got me this week was the number ‘three’ and wondering if that was the dream I really lost.  But I haven’t lost it, not really.  We’ve talked about number three, quite positively actually.  But let’s face it, number three isn’t going to just happen accidentally for us like it does for everybody else.  

Having had the second with a rare genetic disorder adds all kinds of new questions to the discussion, which you now have with considerably less innocence than before — regardless of how random and non-inheritable the disorder is.  You can’t help but wonder if you could go through that again, if you could adequately provide for two with disabilities (because you still don’t know how you’ll ever provide for the one).  And, worst of all,  you wonder if you’re being selfish to even consider adding a third to the mix knowing that they’ll have an older sibling who could become their responsibility (and you really wish would…a most uncomfortable “new dream”).

Then there are the times– like when you’re trying to figure out how to fit all their clothes into one closet; or when you’re standing in front of “The Great Wall of Hand-Me-Downs” in the garage; or when you see them side-by-side in their duo stroller;  or when you can pack the whole family for a week at Disneyland comfortably in your economical CR-V that you think — two’s enough, yes, two is plenty.

But then there are the other times– like when you’re sizing up the bedroom and have visions of three little beds all in a row, each with the wooden cut-out of their occupant’s name adorning the walls above them; when you notice the space between the carseats and think, “sure we could cram another into that space” (and especially when you read online just how to do it!); when you stand in front of “The Great Wall of Hand-Me-Downs” in the garage; or when you think about those three little kids under the Christmas tree in their matching pajamas and what will happen to them when you’re gone.  

Then you wonder which dreams must pass, and which to hold on to, and why there can’t be an easier answer.

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