A while back, I wrote an Instagram post about how a child’s diagnosis can totally waylay a family’s hopes and dreams. It’s easy to lose faith that you’ll ever get back to any version of the life plan you had envisioned. I’ve pondered this very subject for 5 years now. Will my life ever again be filled with things that were once pillars of my dreams? Or is it only insurance battles and disposable diapers for me from here on out?
There was a time in my life when I grew nearly all the fresh produce I ate. The work was hard but the rewards were great, and I dreamed of teaching my children this way too. But when life crumbled after Oliver’s birth, things like self-sustainability became a far-off pipe dreams. I’d plant us a garden and then get too busy to water it, too sleep deprived to weed it, and it would die.
I tried again and again to grow food but finally, I gave up.
I thought, “That’s just something else I need to let go of now. That was my old life. This is my new one. And in this version, I no longer do those things that I had once loved.”
Maybe it was an act of depression to give up something that meant so much to me. Maybe it was an act of self-love, to let go of my idealism and accept a different kind of life. Maybe it was both. But tucked away in the corners of my mind, my dreams survived, hidden but intact, they emerge on days like yesterday.
Yesterday we planted our first fruit tree at our new home. It’s something we’ve dreamed about for years. As we shoveled soil around the base of the tiny trunk, I had one of those flashes of hope. This is another dream coming true, another milestone reached, by inchstones.
Among the greatest lessons of a special-needs life, is that of gratitude for the little things. Our children don’t take giant leaps from one milestone to the next. They take exceedingly small, yet significant, scoots toward inchstones. And when they finally reach one, we feel the swell of pride in our hearts because we know how much work it took to get there. Those efforts are never taken for granted.
It’s required an abundance of effort to reach the point where we could plant our first fruit tree on this property. But we got there. And soon, there will be a second tree, and a third, and then an orchard. Inch by inch, we will reach another mile. And one day, I will watch the crimson red juice of a Stella cherry drip down the tiny chins of my boys, and I will be reminded once again that, although they look differently than expected, my dreams continue to come true.
Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Set them aside for a while. Tuck them away. Do what’s necessary. But don’t give them up. Just allow them to be redefined.