I have never been a mom who worried about milestones. When Abby went to kindergarten, I didn’t get teary. She was supposed to go. When she went to high school, got her license and then onto college I was always so proud…but never weepy. I never wished for time to standstill. To me, our role as parents is to prepare your children to survive without you and be adults. Even though I blinked and my little girl went from 9-months to 19-years faster than I thought possible. One minute she was in kindergarten, then next she was on a plane to a life none of us expected.
We rejoiced, so proud to be parents of a child not afraid to go out and see what the world has to offer, if you are willing to try.
Time is supposed to move on. Children are supposed to grow up, find themselves as someone other than your child or what your town/their high school thought they were. Our children are supposed to become independent, self-sufficient and most importantly: their own person.
I’ve never compared Bridget’s milestones to her sisters. They are two different girls, two different personalities, two different journeys but for the most part, they walk the same path. Just like any siblings are different, yet similar. Bridget’s milestones would always be different than her older sisters. She would walk, go to kindergarten, learn to talk and my personal FU to the universe, Bridget learned to jump.
I have always been okay with her journey. It was unexpected and undiagnosed but we are okay. I knew Bridget was my forever child. Then this week, it hit me. As her sister moves to independence and being self-sufficient, Bridget will always need supervision. I cannot just leave her and go to the grocery store. I need to assist with most daily living tasks.My forever child means time is beginning to stand still, or at least begin to move at a lot slower pace.
Slower, but also chaotic and confusing.
Bridget is forever a 4-to-6-year old. This means she still watches Disney Jr. and her favorite gift was a Doc McStuffins doll. The joy in this is that this is the first year she has ever let us take a doll out of the box. While she didn’t play with her, as Abby would have at 4-years old, she did bring it everywhere for a few days.
The joy made all those hard to obtain milestones and therapies worth it.
Until later that evening when reality hit me.
I was showering Bridget, my now 14-year old. Not assisting, not yelling at her to get her ass into or out of the shower. To wash her hair and make sure she doesn’t think the shampoo coming from her hair does not mean that her feet are clean as it rinses down her body to the drain. I was literally washing my 14-year old after wiping her ass after a bowel movement. I then had to dry her, do her hair, put a night-time pull-up on her, as I put her Frozen pajamas on her. My 14-year old who is entering puberty favorite gift was a doll for a 4-year old and wearing pajamas meant for a kindergartener.
It was a day full of joy, and a moment of FML.
I do not and will never regret this life Bridget has given us. Not every moment with her is a joy. It’s not all rainbows and unicorn glitter. It is hard work, for her and for us. Abby going to college has given us insight on what the next 30 years may look like.
We are never going to be empty nesters. We will one day retire, and Bridget will retire with us. We know this, we live this….but we also acknowledge there are weeks like this one when we realize in 10 years we might be showering our 24-year old and are just hoping she is no longer in nighttime pull-ups.
Thank goodness for moments like this one, that outnumber the FML moments. Where we realize that years of therapy, doctors visits and special education have come together when a 14-year old body trapped in a 4-year old’s mind is finally realizing her birthday means presents.
And most importantly cake
A child with a disability teaches us a lot. And there are many moments of joy. As a result, the moment we become aware of our situation can hit us extra hard. These revelations are far from always understood by people around us. I like reading that others recognise this too. Thanks.
Greetings Marcel Mateman, father of Pip (PACS1), the Netherlands
I love you.