The scene was this: A Friday, late afternoon trip to Hobby Lobby for a quick return and purchase. My shopping experience didn't take long, but the line took forever. For. ev. rrrrrr
It was one of those deceptively short lines where there's only 2 people in front of you, but somehow the cashier has to call for back-up and before you know it you've been standing still for 20 minutes. For real... TWENTY MINUTES. The sad thing is, the line next to us was just as packed and just as slow. There was no escaping. I had Lamp with me and as she had already wreaked havoc on the floor with the candy on the bottom isle I seated her in the back of the shopping cart--a new experience for her. Being the small fry she is, she is always sitting up front, buckled snuggly in place. So I set her down in the back of the cart and she is grinning from ear to ear. She would scoot to the front of the cart, then scoot to the back....then wiggle side to side and watch the cart wiggle with her. Completely entertained.
After a while the lady behind us noticed her and said, Well she's as happy as can be... just entertaining her self. Like most 2 year olds Lamps ears perked up at the attention and she started showing off in her usual Lamp ways by charming her socks off and chatting her up. Oh my? How old is she? She can talk so well! And on and on.
When it came our turn with the cashier we had our own not-quick returns and purchases--oh yes, we were those people too--and as I continued to wait for price checks and store managers I thought I would give everyone a real treat. I turned to Lamp and said, Would you like to sing a song for everyone?
OK. What song would you like to sing?
Wheels on the bus.
OK. Go ahead.
At the top of her lungs (like you've seen her before) she sang the wheels on the bus to two crowded lines at Hobby Lobby. I wish you can have seen it. Nay, I wish you should have felt it. Frustrated sighs gave way to giant smiles and laughs. People in both lines were laughing and smiling and pointing at Lamp (in a good way) as the negative energy morphed into a new, lighter atmosphere. Lamp brought joy to a group of weary shoppers, her mama included, as she continued singing until we were all checked out and ready to go. By the time we finished checking out the mood had shifted dramatically.
I picked her up to leave she started shouting good-bye! good-bye! while waving wildly with her sweet little arm to all of her new found admirers. Good bye, good bye, good bye! Over and over again, loudly and with joy. And many, many shoppers in those two never-ending lines waved back with smiles on their faces and good-byes ringing back just as loudly.
I laughed, snuggled my daughter and said, And that's why I love taking you shopping.
And then my mind drifted back to a dark day that seems forever ago. A day when a doctor looked at our baby though an ultrasound machine and told us the difficult news of her very unique anatomy. Misshapen, deformed, bones missing altogether. Those words left us reeling and in an instant, a happy future was erased.
What I know now and what I want others to know is that an ultrasound machine while great at predicting genders and certain medical issues, is horribly, woefully, unspeakably inadequate at predicting futures.
There is no machine, no technology so advanced that could have ever predicted how amazingly joyous our lives would be with Lamp in it. She is a wonderful, bright, happy ray of sunshine to all those who know her. That probably sounds a lot like your kid right? She is. Lamp is a person first. While her body is a integral part of who she is and will certainly shape her mortal experience, I think this brightness and joy has little to do with her limbs. She is who she is, and there's not a machine in the world that could have showed us that. This goes for typical, healthy children as well. And life in general.
Through FB groups and emails sent to me, I've met some mothers and heard their stories about learning that they are carrying a child who will be missing a limb (or 2 or 3...) or face other limb-different issues. Most of these moms are coming to terms with this news, searching for answers and seeking connections to others who know. I remember those times, I was those moms. As they tell me their stories they also tell me of well meaning friends and family members who advise these mothers to terminate their pregnancy based on nothing more than a couple of ultrasounds. What I can't wrap my mind around is how can this same world that is so open-minded and accepting of differences, be the same world that advises people to dispose of babies, of human beings, because they're different in the first place?
To any friends and family of someone who has recently received some difficult news during an ultrasound, please be supportive and loving and most of all please open your heart. You would never think of walking up to the mother of any child and say, You know...you really should have aborted that one. So please don't ever consider saying that to a mother expecting a child with special needs. Forget what you think you know, and instead be prepare to learn. Your mind and your heart are going to learn new things when you see disability up close and personal. It looks a lot like love. Regular old, powerful, amazing, transformative love.
To any mother who may have recently received some difficult news at an ultrasound, please know that that's just one small piece of the whole picture. You will certainly experience grief, as you should, but leave room for joy. It will be there, I promise. In very unexpected ways. Now I understand that there are families with very trying and difficult special needs journeys, but so far I haven't met one who would change a thing. That is why I do these spotlights, because through it all the love is there. Always.
And you know what they say about love.
It conquers...what was that again?
Oh yeah, All.
I hope to have our spotlight series back in full swing again next week! Thanks for all the love and support...and please if you or someone you know would like to be a part of the series, email me or have them email me, directly at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.