6 months through the year and time for change, all change.
July was the month where Josh left primary school to start Secondary school. He turned 11 and Dylan turned 13. I always find birthdays a time of reflection, its our individual new year, a year older, wiser, a chance to reflect on the past 12 months and a chance to make plans for the upcoming year. I have always found this a more painful event with Dylan, it has always been
‘Dylan’s birthday, now he’s 5, but still not talking, as soon as he can talk he’ll be okay’
‘Now he’s 8 years old, but still not talking,’
‘Dylan’s turned 11 years old, but still not talking.’
I’ve always found myself looking back over the last year with sadness and not really sure of what to hope for in the upcoming year.
This year felt different. Dylan’s achieved heaps this year. He’s developed skills and active ‘tasks’ or targets but he’s also become more comfortable in his own skin, he’s gaining confidence, hes seeking people out and it seems hes finding himself as a person; Or am I starting to see him more as a person? Probably. I’m certainly finding the more I try to get under his skin and see from his perspective that the more logical his behaviour is. It takes more effort but the communication is there.
This year we didn’t say, ‘Uh Dylan’s 13, still not talking’.
Dylan definitely IS talking – all the time, but due to his verbal dyspraxia, we just can’t understand him. He is becoming more and more confident and speedy with the iPad and although he needs prompting to use it – it’s not his ‘go-to’ way of communicating – he can be understood by EVERYONE when he uses it.
This development from this year is so valuable; both Dylan’s developing ability and my changed perspective.
Birthdays also allow me time to reflect, on my babies births, their first days, months. Plans that were made, developmental books that were brought in anticipation, read from cover to cover. Eagerly awaiting their arrivals. I have often refered to the essay ‘Welcome to Holland’ by Emily Pearly Kingsley as an explanation for the feelings of not having the perfect birth, perfect child, perfect experience that you expected that you find within the books and from hearing others experiences.
What I’ve realised this year is that I’m not in Holland, I’m in Italy too.
See Italy is parenthood, a destination that I have chosen along with everyone else that’s here. Being a parent is my choice and its is riddled with uncertainty, responsibility and sometimes quite often heartache. But it is a journey I chose to embark upon.
Upon arriving in Italy with its gondolas and Colosseum I’m not as fluent in the language as I thought I may be, its taken me a bit longer to learn the lingo and I have had to learn some different phrases.
It isn’t always sunny like the brochures say, in fact it has some pretty impressive storms but they just make the sun beam even brighter afterwards. When the weathers bad there are some beautiful cafe’s to explore and shops to meander around when the fast pace of the Italian lifestyle gets too much.
And it can get too much, for everyone that lives in Italy, the pace and the bustle and the pressure can get too much. Not everyone is sure they are suited to Italy, it is a very different place to live and some people find the adjustment of living in Italy harder than others, some need more support. Not because of special needs but because PARENTING IS HARD!
I’m right here next to every other parent, finding my way, wondering if I am doing everything I can, wondering if my child will be okay, just the same as they are.
So here we all are in Italy.
All having very different experiences,
All raising very different children.
Is life with Dylan quite the same as what I thought parenting would be? Not at all
But neither is life with Josh or Grace. Nor life with my husband. Nor any other aspect of my life. The only thing that has gone as I expected with this journey is I wanted to be a parent – And now I am one. Everything else has defied my expectations
When I had my children I dreamed of snuggles, nappies and sleeping innocent faces. I dreamed of watching them waddle, teaching them to play and tickling their toes. I dreamed of smelling their skin, holding them while they cried, laughed, screamed and slept. I dreamed of loving someone who would love me no matter what I did. I vowed to honor that power. My dreams came true.
Holland doesn’t have the pace of my life, nor the excitement.
I’m well and truly in Italy.
Its taken time but I’ve realise that having a child with a disability never for one minute impeded my dream catching. And neither should it.
And after years of ‘as soon as’ I’ve realised – Its already okay 🙂