Everybody has a story. Every life is unique and we all have our challenges. The other day, as I was backing my car out of Progressive Pediatric with Caedmon. I was able to read a few sentences of another man’s story and it left me speechless.
I have written before how Caedmon doesn’t have a concept of equilibrium, because living with Cerebral Palsy is all he has ever known. Jeni and I often hear the question, “how do you do it?” My answer is found in Caedmon’s expierence, “We just do it, it’s all we have ever known.” I only know how to be a parent in a family affected by Cerebral Palsy, it’s my normal. Sometimes though, I can begin to absorb the praises of people and begin to think I am super dad. Like I am doing some greater work, that places me in a superior position, over my fellow dads. But, the reality is that I am just like any other father. I woke up one morning with a bassonnet in my bedroom and a few diapers on the floor, I was a dad. My priorities changed, my free time was reduced, I became the second cutest male in my family, and I became adept at changing diapers.
We have a wheelchair in the back of our van and get to park in handicap spaces, but our challenges are no greater than anyone elses. They are just different. Every child is an individual with special needs. Caedmon has them. Jack has them. Andrew has them. Toby has them. So do your kids, or so will your kids, if you aren’t there yet. Even though I know that to be true, it is easy for me to give in to the temptation, and believe that I am Optimus Parent, but then I have an moment like I had in the parking lot.
I had just pushed Caedmon to the car in his wheelchair, placed him into his carseat, and loaded his chair into the back of the van. As I sat there patting myself on the back for my super-human parenting, I saw a man carrying his child to their car. The kiddo was younger than Caedmon, but had similar characteristics. It was obvious that the child didn’t have the option of walking (yet), so dad was carrying him. I know the feeling, but not really. Their truck was parked right next to us, and the carseat was positioned on the side of his car nearest to us. I gave him the, “bus driver wave,” and began to pull out.
What, you don’t know what the “bus driver wave” is? Haven’t you ever noticed that when two busses pass each other, they always wave to one another. They might not wave to another car all day, but they will always wave to their fellow bus driver. It’s more than “hello,” it’s a proclamation of unity and mutual respect. This is how I waved to this other dad.
Anyway, as I was beginning to move, I glanced back over and what I saw stunned me. This father only had one arm! He was doing the same things that I do, with half the limbs. I was ready to take the Super Dad shirt that the boys got me for Fathers Day, and hide it in shame. This guy was Super Dad, I was mearly Spider Dad or Bat Dad. Instant perspective.
The next morning I was stung with an even stronger dose of my perspective meds. While Caedmon was working out, I saw a train of small child, therapist, small child, therapist. Each child was in AFO’s, like Caedmon’s, and was practicing walking. They both had Cerebral Palsy and they were twins! Their parents live our challenges times two, although my guess is that their’s are exponentially more difficult.
I don’t want anyone to stop offering encouragement to our family. The Lord knows, we need it. But, I do want us to remember that we all need it. We all have our challenges, and we all fight emotional and physical exhaustion at times. I hope that this blog, and my other one, provide encouragement to you. I hope that I keep my eyes off of myself and pay attention to the needs of others. I know that Caedmon takes great joy in bringing happiness to others. One of the reasons you come back to this blog is to see him smile. He doesn’t have to smile though. That’s why it is so incredible. Can I encourage you to offer your smile to someone today? Maybe you would let someone read a page of your story or offer a “bus driver wave.” Whatever it is, just do it.