“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller.

Those of you who know me well know that I am not an optimist. I’m probably the worst kind of pessimist – a sarcastic pessimist. Following Mia’s potential diagnosis, I envisioned a life that Nate, Fynn and I would have. It didn’t look very nice. It was fraught with failure, frustration, judgment, angst, and just downright disappointment. The last thing I envisioned was “normal.” I tried to hold out hope, but every day was a battle between my natural pessimism and my faith.

So when Mia was born and I held her, I was surprised by how “normal” she was. Sure, she had some symptoms of a child with Down syndrome. She had low muscle tone, a heart murmur, etc, but she also nursed, snuggled, and cried – everything a “normal” baby does. She made me realize, even after all of my research and preparation, how (for lack of a better word) ignorant I was. She was gorgeous and amazing, not something to be feared. And for those of you who’ve met her, you know, she’s about the least scary baby there is. She’s a content, chunky, healthy little sweetie pie.

She is definitely not what I envisioned. I would not have envisioned a baby, who was supposed to be a limp noodle with no muscle tone, lifting her head and looking around at 2 weeks. I would never have envisioned that my 5-week-old daughter would roll over for the first time ahead of schedule (even for typically developing babies). I never would have envisioned her studying our faces and the world around her with such intensity that it still shocks me a little. I never would have envisioned that she would be “normal.”

With that said, even though my optimistic side is starting to come out a little, I’m also a realist. She has a serious, life threatening birth defect that will cause global delays. So, it’s not a matter of if but when those delays occur. What I do know is that I won’t be the one to set the date. I’ll follow her lead because it’s her life; I am merely her teacher and cheerleader. I will do whatever she needs me to do in order for her to reach her fullest potential – and then I’ll do more. Just like Fynn, I will encourage her to do whatever she puts her mind to, and I’ll be there to support her all the way.

Will she fail? Of course, failure is part of life, but she already has so many cheerleaders to encourage her to try again. Will she be frustrated? Sure, what part of achievement doesn’t come with frustration? Will she be met with judgment? Yes, because it’s a cruel world. Fortunately, she’ll be shielded with love. Will her life be filled with angst? She’s human. All humans are filled with angst – especially teenagers. Will she be disappointed? Yes, but we’ll be there to remind her of her blessings.

I refuse to spend my life or my children’s tempering their dreams and using words like “can’t”. I’d rather do what Einstein once suggested, “Attempt the absurd to achieve the impossible.”

2013 is right around the corner. A New Year is the perfect time to start attempting the absurd.

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3 Responses to Optimism

  1. Laura says:

    I am a friend of Emily’s and I am sure she has mentioned our son Logan to you. We started a journey very similar to yours back in March and I had to smile as I just read your post. I had the exact same thoughts. What I pictured we would have is so far from reality. I was so ignorant 8 months ago. I probably still am, but I’m learning every day. I am here to tell you that we have a handsome 8 month old baby boy that rolled himself under the Christmas tree last week, pulls his brother’s hair, watches everything around him with innate curiosity, and is just the light of our lives. His brother Jake frequently yells “No Logan, that’s mine!” just like any other brother would. He gives him hugs and kisses and holds his hand while we watch Sesame Street. Life is so normal it’s crazy. Minus the heart surgery stuff and therapists vising every week, life with Logan is just like it was with Jake. At his 7 month check up, he too is not yet showing any delays and is ahead of the curve on a few things. It’s not luck, it’s hard work. I see his determination every day and I see a future with a child that will never give up on his dreams. Feel free to email me any time!!

  2. erin says:

    Thank you for stopping by, Laura! Emily has mentioned you, and I’ve seen photos of your adorable little kiddo! It has definitely been a journey so far. I can’t believe that we’re going to our 1-month appointment tomorrow – 5 weeks since she’s left the hospital. It feels like a lifetime has gone by. I’d love to chat some time. I’ll drop you a line after the holidays.

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