Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surrender All

When I drop Carter, age 8, off at school, we enjoy a ritual of words and kisses.

"Work hard!" I say, and he gives me a hug and one kiss.

"Learn lots!" I say, and he gives me a hug and two kisses.

"Have fun!" I say, and he gives me a hug and three kisses.

I said the same words to my older kids (Jacob, 17; Abbie, 15, and Spencer, 13) when I took them to school (though the hugging and kissing rituals are Carter's own invention) when they were young, but not anymore. Even on the rare occasions that I drop them off at school, they are far too old and sophisticated to enjoy the sing-song goodbyes and silly habits of their youth.

I don't know where those three instructions originated. Maybe my mom said them to me when I walked out the door every morning to get on the school bus, or maybe I made them up myself. Wherever those phrases began, I've come to see them as a nearly complete recipe for a successful day, and a necessary help as I learn to surrender to the vagaries of life as the mother of a child who has emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and motor disabilities and delays.

I was like most parents expecting a child: full of hope. I assumed that my children would go further in life than I have; that they would do more, experience greater success, and enjoy happiness far, far beyond my imaginings.

Funny thing is, on the way to my children's golden future, life intervened. Even in the years before Carter joined our family, and in spite of my best efforts, my kids were mostly.....ordinary. They all had talents and strengths, and of course their other parents and I found them to be exceptional in thousands of ways, but for the most part? Ordinary kids.

Instead of feeling disappointed, I was relieved. Delighted, even. None of them was dogged by unrealized genius. They were well-liked by their teachers and peers; they got pretty good grades; they were happy. I began to understand that my real goal for my children was that they grow up to become themselves, people who knew how to work and learn and play; to love and be loved. I surrendered.

But now, in the wake of the profound chaos of the past three years of our lives, when Carter revealed himself to be seriously ill and our family experienced a rupture of unimaginable proportions, I've had to learn about surrender in new ways. 

Nothing about living in the moment and letting go of my regrets and expectations comes naturally to me. Far, far easier for me to lay awake at night rethinking past decisions or fretting about the future than to breathe deep and count my blessings in the moment. I worry about how I will manage to keep Carter safe in the future, but slowly, slowly, I am learning to interrupt those thoughts by reminding myself that he is safe right now, today. 

How can I hope to help Carter stay stable and balanced if I am not stable and balanced myself? 

The simplicity of that three-part recipe helps me: if I have worked hard, learned something new, and had fun, then I am a huge success. Just like I have learned not to measure Carter's academic ability against that of other children his age, but only to his own progress across time, so I can learn not to measure myself against anyone's expectations. 


  1. That is a beautiful ritual that gives everyone space to be themselves within the confines of each day and what it presents. I only learned to have fun at the ripe age of ... oh ... 22 or 23? It was in a Masters acting class, under the strict but careful guidance of a tough old bird from NYC via San Francisco in Vancouver (Canada). I will forever be grateful to her for helping me see light and lightness.
    This was a complete revelation, that changed the way I operate and raise my own children.
    But I really like the other two things you offer.
    In our family, I encourage them to love themselves, and to include themselves in the happenings on the playground. But I confess, so sick am I about the state of the school they are in that I am considering not dropping them off next year to learn something new but rather going the homeschool route for a couple of years. I cannot lie, it scares the pants off of me, if only for the loss of the social lessons.

    1. Tronng văn phòng công ty với mỗi phòng ban đều có những chức năng công việc khác nhau cho nên việc lựa chọn mua bàn làm việc hcm cũng hòa toàn khác nhau tùy vào mục đích sử dụng của văn phòng. Cho nên việc lựa chọn mua sản phẩm nội thất văn phòng như bàn, ghế, tủ… đều phải có sự thống nhất và dựa vào không gian văn phòng làm việc mà lựa chọn được mẫu sản phẩm cho phù hợp nhất. Hiện nay trên thị trường nội thất có rất nhiều sản phẩm bàn văn phòng tphcm khác nhau nhiều giá, mẫu mã và chức năng.
      Bàn làm việc văn phòng cho nhân viên thì phụ thuộc vào diện tích khá nhiều. Những chiếc bàn làm việc đơn có hộc sẽ được sử dụng cho những căn phòng rộng để giúp mỗi người có một khoảng làm việc riêng và cũng để văn phòng không bị trống trải. Tuy nhiên, ở những thiết kế nội thất văn phòng hiện đại đề cao tính gắn kết nên lại chọn những kiểu bàn làm việc văn phòng giá rẻlớn dạng đôi để tập trung từng nhóm nhân viên lại với nhau. Vách ngăn vẫn sẽ giúp mỗi người có những khoảng không gian riêng cho mình. Cho nên để có một văn phòng đẹp hiện đại các nhà quản lý cần phải chọn mua được sản phẩm nội thất văn phòng giá rẻ hcm sao cho hài hòa với văn phòng cũng như là không gian làm việc tốt nhất. Chính vì thế các nhà thầu thiết kế cũng nên cân nhắc về việc tư vấn cho khách hàng của mình chọn được mẫu sản phẩm nội thất sử dụng tốt nhất.

  2. This to me is wonderful: "I began to understand that my real goal for my children was that they grow up to become themselves, people who knew how to work and learn and play; to love and be loved." I want to paint that on my walls, remind myself of this when I get carried away with all the silly stuff. Love you and this post!

  3. What a wonderful post...and a great reminder. The whole letting go thing doesn't come naturally to me either. Thanks for the wise words.

  4. I want my child(ren) to grow up to be himself (themselves) too.
    you are always so wise, my friend. No really. You are.

  5. Victory comes in a million flavors and colors.
    Better than Baskin Robbins even.