As I work my way through school to become a teacher of the visually impaired, which I’m doing now, I keep running into information about “grieving.” Most often we think of grieving as the actual death of someone, but we can actually grieve a great many things. Through brainstorming at school, different types of grief were mentioned including grieving a lost job, lost marriage, lost friendship, and even lost dreams.
As a parent of Eddie, that last one “lost dreams” is something that I have to realize and work through on occasion. When we were pregnant with Eddie we had a lot of hopes and dreams for our son and envisioned a future that we didn’t know would not come. At least, not exactly as we dreamed. This hasn’t been a grieving process that I went through once and now I’m healed. Many times I am thrown back into the realization that our life with Eddie is not “typical.” That doesn’t mean it is worse, but that it is much different.
Large milestones that are missed tend to bring about the hardest times for me. I grieved when he was 1 1/2 and still not walking, I grieved when he turned 3 and still didn’t talk, and most recently I grieved when school started this year and he didn’t go to kindergarten with all the other 5 year olds. Children who I watched stretch their Mom’s tummy’s while Eddie stretched mine walked into that school and I witnessed it because I was taking my 1st grader to school. This was extremely hard and still brings tears at the memory. A prime example of grieving the future that never came, even when I thought that was behind me.
As a note to parents like me, these days are few and far between. I don’t always miss those “lost dreams” but now have found new dreams for Eddie. So much focus is placed on bigger milestones for typically developing children, but the small steps are important, too. Many times celebrating the successes of small steps is what keeps us moving forward instead of “grieving” the larger ones.