I have thought back more than once to my vow to Michele on our wedding day; to have and to hold, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad, till death do us part. Our choice had been to have children and become a family; fortunately for us our love for each other and for our sons would hold us together in the tough times ahead. We would learn in time that our sons disability would lead us to a life and love we would never have known without them.
Based on how we were perceived by some, our wishes changed; when people would look at us with unbelieving faces, we would wish for acceptance; when others offered sympathy for our sons disability, we would instead wish for encouragement; when we heard of others living a life that offers very little, we wish for more life for all and less to none; when faced with IQ tests that categorize our children as developmentally disabled, we asked for higher expectations and an educational environment that nurtures and promotes self worth in and for our children. We learned very quickly that our actions, deeds, thoughts and dreams would very quickly become our reality; we sometimes call ourselves ‘advocates’ for our cause, when in reality we become ‘diplomats’ for a community of human beings that deserve every opportunity, every high expectation and every right to a meaningful life.
Our choices and decisions take on a different meaning when we are making them for our children who literally cannot speak for themselves. Some of our choices and decisions will be very self centered and biased, but always made in the best interest of our children. We will learn in time to pick and choose our battles and we will sometimes decide to overly protect our children. Sacrifice is a word that is often used in describing our lives; however, when you remind yourself that you decided to have a family, your wish was to sacrifice what you had for what could be. Our test is in how we respond to our wish.