Family and love were foreign concepts for my daughter when I met her. She had been bounced around between unhealthy homes and shelters. She had experienced loss and hunger and absolute fear. She had no reason to suspect when she came here that our home would be any different. Even after our adoption, Alyssa would ask several times each day if I was still her mom. She does that less now but that fear of abandonment still rears its ugly head sometimes when she gets in trouble and she goes back to being the scared little girl who believes no one really wants her. In those moments she occasionally asks if I will still be her mom as if I might disappear while she takes a timeout in the corner. “Always and forever” I tell her. “No matter what you do, we are family and family is forever.”
As I reflect back over the past two years, I remember many times when I felt like I was Moses, alone on a mountain, growing weary of the fight. There were moments though, when people came beside me and helped me bear the load. In small acts of kindness, friends and strangers came along and held our arms up.
A year without seizures is a huge milestone in the world of epilepsy. Ironically, it is also terrifying. If Alyssa maintains her streak over the summer, then in the fall we will start to slowly wean her off of at least one of her medications. I have a love / hate relationship with those medications. On the one hand she takes large doses of mind altering drugs every day with a whole slew of side effects and an undetermined impact on her development. On the other hand, those drugs are keeping her alive.
Children rarely grow up to be exactly what their parents pictured. Many parents struggle to accept that their kids have chosen different paths. The difference is that parents of special needs children grieve because the different paths were not chosen by our children; they were forced on them.
At the moment, I think that I am making the right choice but that doesn’t make it any less painful. Taking the blinders off and recognizing the limitations in this life hurts. Coming to grips with the fact that the way things are is in no way close to the way I thought that they should be is a difficult process. I understand why some people choose to live like an ostrich and keep their heads buried deep enough that they do not have to acknowledge the world burning down all around them. I have to believe though that at some point beauty will come from the ashes. I can’t see the positive yet but at least I am a little closer to seeing the truth and that’s progress for me.
Little Man has started dancing. It’s the funniest thing. He just bops his little butt along to any beat he finds, especially that new Pizza Hut commercial with the guitar. I know it isn’t a major skill like walking but it’s one of those parenting moments where they make you stop and smile and forget about the fact that you survived from Sunday till Friday on 14 hours of sleep. To me, those little mile stones are bittersweet. They are a part of what makes being a foster parent so rewarding. I experience the joy of watching this little person develop right before my eyes but that means that someone else isn’t seeing what I see. In a few weeks, he’ll go live with his dad and start this whole new relationship with a year’s worth of missed little moments.