Is this as Good as it Gets?
Ivan is 10 years old. He’s not a baby anymore, but he’s also not a big kid yet. I mean he’s big (he’s the biggest he’s ever been!), but I can still pick him up when I need to.
My husband says, “These are the salad days.”
Yes, that’s a real phrase. I had to look it up! It means that these are our best days, when everything is at its peak and we are happiest.
Although, if you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, another way to look at this may be to say that it’s all downhill from here.
Ivan has significant disabilities. He’s blind, nonverbal and in a wheelchair. Does that define Ivan? Of course not! But those are important factors in our everyday lives.
When Ivan was a baby, we also had all the challenges that come along with having a baby: breast feeding vs bottle feeding, not sleeping through the night, etc etc.
But then there’s also all the good parts of having a child who is disabled and still little: you can pick them up easily, diaper changes aren’t that difficult and they’re certainly not socially frowned upon, supportive equipment like strollers or carseats are affordable and made in their size commercially, they’re still cute and everyone wants to hold them!
What happens as your baby gets bigger?
At 10 years old, we’re still in that sweet spot between baby days and big kid days. He’s sleeping through the night, enjoys eating just about any food you place in front of him and (cue the trumpets) he’s mostly toilet trained! I can still pick him up when I need to so transfers aren’t breaking my back and he is still super cute (even if I am biased).
Let’s also throw in that my husband and I are still (relatively) young and healthy, so caring for Ivan isn’t physically taxing.
I think these really are our salad days!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. If these are the best days we have, then I should cherish them. But it also worries me endlessly about what happens next. What does the future hold for our family… and especially for Ivan?
So this is what I tell myself (and maybe this can help you too): People are amazing at coping and adjusting. Think about all the things that have happened in your life that seemed like absolute tragic game changers. Did you give up? Did you stop living? No! You dealt with the tragedy, picked up the pieces and moved on.
Remember when you first learned that your child had a disability? That was painful. It felt like someone had just punched you in the gut and torn out your heart at the same time and you thought you would never recover. You cried and cried and felt like everything was over. But you adjusted to the news, learned to live a new life and moved on. You just did because that’s what people do.
And now life is so good you are actually referring to it as the best it could possibly be! 10 years ago you never could have imagined cherishing your life the way you do now. But you do. And you know what? You will feel the same way in another 10 years. Ivan will be (gulp) 20 and yeah, that sounds crazy now, but when he’s 20 you’ll be loving everything about him. Sure, there will be new challenges, but you will find solutions and you will deal with them.
Remember this: People who ask if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point. The glass is refillable.
It’s natural for special needs parents to go above and beyond for their children, but we need to remember that it's important to take a break as well.
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