The author of "Amsterdam International", Dana Nieder, posted another one this week. I think it very well-written.
The Boats of AcceptanceIn this harbor town, the families with “typical” kids live on the land, and the families with “special/different/whatever term you’re cool with” kids live on the water. The families who are new to all-things-special-needs, who struggle to see which world they fit into, who still spend a lot of time in depressionangerdenialbargainingwailingpain . . . they sit on the beach. Not quite on land, but not ready to brave the water. And when they’re ready, they get to acceptance. And then they get their boat, to join those already in the water.
As best as I can figure, acceptance starts as a canoe. It’s tipsy, easy to capsize---but you’re so happy to be free from the limbo of the beach and enjoying the water that you don’t care. You paddle around thinking “This is working! I’m on a boat! I’m happy! This water isn’t so bad! “ But every so often you hear people playing on the shore and turn too quickly to see them----or you gaze too long at some kids playing in a soccer game close to the shore and you forget to row----and your boat wobbles and shakes and takes in a bit of water and you think that maybe you need to take a rest on the beach again. Just for a little while.
It’s hard to learn to live on a boat.
It takes some time, but you become a champion rower. You can navigate turns, go superfast or smooth and slow, and the shore hardly distracts you anymore. You think to yourself “There are great things out here on the water. Those land people miss magical moments at sea.” You’re ready to drop your anchor and claim the water as your home.
So, you get a houseboat.
The houseboat of acceptance is strong and sturdy, built to last through the stinging winds and soaking hurricanes that you’re smart enough to expect in the years to come. And the best things about having a houseboat, docked securely at the pier, are the neighbors. You visit their boats and they visit yours, and you talk about the best places to buy rope and other boating things. So many people you might not have met on land, happy to help with ship repairs and barnacle scrubbings. You all have friends on land, but something is different among the camaraderie of people who live on the water---there’s a lot about boat living that the land folks just can’t fully understand. Life on the houseboat is good, you watch the tides come in and out and feel secure and proud . . . until you have to venture to land.
Going to land . . . well, it sometimes sucks.
You’re invited to a birthday party, or decide to take your kid to go visit the new museum, or whatever. You have high hopes. You’re ready to visit with old friends, to catch up. It only takes a few minutes to start noticing all the stuff that’s happened on land since you’ve been gone (they have flat screen tvs now? computers are wireless? what the hell is Twitter?) and suddenly all of the progress that you’ve made on the boat, the stories you were so ready to tell---they all seem very small. So small that you fearfully suspect the land people might put on too-big-smiles and too-cheerful-voices when they say “A new generator? That must be so fantastic!”
You may not be ready to be so close to land just yet.
But you want to shift from land to water, gliding from one to the other, at home on both, like the tides. The houseboat of acceptance, well, it may be home (temporarily? for a few years? forever?) but you watch the waves crash on the shore, stirring up the sand, and it makes you think. The water kicks up the sand and plays with the shells, lingers a bit, and then purposefully moves back out again. Maybe you could, too. Maybe you could join the land folks, move among them, and then return to the water . . . without the weight of misunderstanding/pity/envy/grief?
This is where a year has brought me. The houseboat is easy, the land is still sometimes hard (although there are easier days and harder ones) . . . and I’m ready to start rolling onto land with the waves (some days). I’m not sure how long it will take me to teach my body to switch from sea legs to land legs, and my visits might be short at first, but I’m going to go slowly. I’ve got a lifetime ahead of me to learn. As it turns out, the final, hardest to obtain, boat of acceptance is starting to reveal itself to me, and I don’t think it’s a boat at all.
I think it’s a surfboard.
I don't know where I'm at....I think I spend time back and forth. We are a busy family of 5 so we can't live on our houseboat all the time. Most of the time our land activities are for the two older boys so I don't notice the differences as much. There are times though we are with friends with smaller children...that is when I see the differences more and notice that our progress is different. Sometimes little things will make me twinge or sad but I love our celebrations of the little things (reaching, rolling, prop sitting, kneeling) and our big things (recovering from open heart surgery). I think I agree with Dana...I think it might be a surfboard...guess I need to work on my balancing :-)
|Mom, I promise...I did not get all these toys out!|
|Hmm...should I help her with the toy or take it from her?|
|Maybe I will just touch it and see how it goes!|
|He is such a good big brother!|