As little girls we played house and created a world with the perfect home, husband and child. Pretending to be a mom was a world with aprons, easy bake ovens, high heel shoes and pretty red lipstick. We knew this to be true, we saw it everywhere. From our earliest memories it was on our televisions everyday. Donna Reed, Leave it to Beaver, Make room for Daddy even I love Lucy had moms with an idyllic charm that captured our imaginations.
As teenagers we rebelled. We were not going to be the idyllic housewife with pearls around our necks and children at our feet. We had new role models now. Mary Tyler Moore, Julia, That Girl and Charlies Angels transformed our beliefs. We dreamt of our careers and friendships and our lives as modern women.
As young ladies we became educated, got our first jobs, met the men of our dreams and felt the excitement and power of our first independence. We were empowered by the women on Cagney and Lacey, Knots Landing, Dynasty and The Cosby show. The strength of these women changed our view of life and how we knew our life would be.
The men of our dreams became our husbands our partners our lovers. Maturity brought us to a balance of knowing that we could, if we chose, incorporate all the wonderful role models that had been set before us and have it all. We could wear that apron, advance in our careers, be strong formidable women, have that baby on our hip and do it all while wearing our best pair of stilettos. It was all laid out for us. It was the life we expected.
As woman and mothers we came to the stark realization that not unlike the fairy tales of our earliest memories, there are twists and turns and unexpected tribulations.
For some women life has given them pretty much what they expected. They seem to effortlessly walk through life and are truly content. For others, they are given the unexpected. They are given a child with a disability. They are given a heavy heart, not by the child, but by the illness or disorder that plagues them. These women feel limited in their choices, they feel they cannot have it all and feel a sense of loss for their happily ever after ending.
The woman of a child with a disability has been given the life unexpected.
Along with the unexpected can come the expected. If what we expected of ourselves as little girls, young ladies and women was to become nurturing, educated, independent, strong and supportive – then mothers of children with disabilities have not only met but far exceeded those expectations.
My father once told me “Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed”. Seemed a bit harsh even a bit ridiculous. “Without expectations there are no goals” I replied. Looking back, I think I missed the point.
Perhaps the one thing never taught to be expected was to have a purpose. Maybe in some way having a true purpose in life – to be truly needed – may not be the life expected – but the life you were meant to have.