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On the ice.

Parents are not permitted to step gingerly into the world of children with developmental disabilities. Rather, we are cruelly shoved from behind and, like novice skaters, we must fight to maintain our balance in a situation which may never be quite balanced. I believe my view will ring true for many parents who find themselves desperately seeking answers to questions for which the professionals have no answers. When will our child walk? Will he be diagnosed? What will the future hold for him and our family? Everything we thought would come in an orderly, natural fashion is now closely scrutinized. As for the answers, we can only wait and see. We are plagued by our fears. Do we have too many expectations? Or too few?

When my child stepped off the expected route and pushed me onto the ice, I became obsessed with my quest for answers. Like a hunter, I chased down every clue and examined all the evidence. Instead of answers, I discovered only more questions and doubts. Like a novice skater, I lurched about wildly, trying to steady myself, while all around me others seemed to skate by effortlessly. Reading became my all-consuming hobby. Not romance novels or adventures, mind you, but case histories and medical journals. I tried to achieve my balance through reading, research and the constant lists that made up my day. Listing our days, our nights, our dreams and our hopes became my life. Reality seemed anchored in those lists -- tangible proof of life.

I've grown accustomed to the ice now. Finally, with the passage of time, that all-powerful healer, I can think of other things. My journals, once daily proof of my existence, are no longer daily-kept records of my son's achievements and unmet goals. My balance, precarious as it may be, is born of my acceptance -- but not of my son's condition. To accept that would mean to let go of all my hopes and expectations, the dreams that make up life itself. My acceptance is of my son as the individual he is and will become.

Ultimately my acceptance is for me. I can now accept all the emotions that at one time threatened to crush me under the ice. Feeling everything and, at times, feeling nothing, I pick up the pieces of my life and find myself out on the ice. With the hand of a small boy in mine, I move among the skaters, not exactly gliding but steady, my balance maintained by his constant presence.
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Title Annotation:caring for a developmentally disabled child
Author:Greenlaw, Mary
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Words:418
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