We were concerned foremost with her health. We decided we would learn whatever we could to advocate for her in every way we could. We agreed that we would focus on getting her well enough to come home. We discussed large issues like education, driving, and marriage. Would Bridget be able to attend a regular school? Would she ever drive? Was marriage out of the question for her?
We also wondered about everyday life. Would she be sick often? How would raising her be different from raising the other kids? How would their lives be impacted? Would we be able to take family vacations? What about leaving the kids with a babysitter? Would we always be worried about Bridget?
The questions were endless at first, and the process is one we needed to go through to realize: things are not much different than what we anticipated when we found out we would be adding a new member to our family. The truth is, we never know what a child will be like, what he or she will require, achieve or struggle with. We never know if a child will be healthy, independent, happy, and so on. Who's to say if any of our children will drive, go to college, get married, or live independently. We really don't know at this point. We're not consumed by the need to know how it will all play out. And, honestly, the future for our children is not for us to plan out.
Once we'd talked through all these issues, Chris and I realized that many of these things are outside of our control, and what's most important to us is that our children are happy & able to contribute to the world in some way. Each one of us has a unique personality. We all have our issues and our strengths. We will all go through times when we require more attention or more support than usual. We all have something valuable to contribute.
With Bridget, we are learning to be hopeful without expectations. We have plans and goals to help Bridget in her growth and development, and while those plans are necessary and important--we cannot be tied to them. Bridget is on her own path, and will develop in her own ways on her own time. We can provide her experiences and exposure to things which may influence her development, but her own personality and abilities will dictate what she accomplishes and when.
We don’t want others to judge her against an arbitrary standard of development or of what’s acceptable. We’ve learned that we can’t do that either. There is a fine line between wanting the best for our children, and asking that they meet our ideal. Typical, healthy or not…we cannot dream for our children.
Just as we cannot control the development and interests of any of our other children, Bridget will become who she is. We’ll give her every type of support and encouragement to be as happy, healthy and independent as she can be, but we’ll let her do the dreaming for herself.