The past few days have been full of deep-seeded joy for me. A time of hope and laughter, where worry for the future has not hung over me like an ever-present cloud. A time where I have caught a glimpse of my old self again. Granted, I’ll never be as care-free as I was before I became a Mom. But I’ve been able to throw my head back and laugh. To make jokes and reply with (semi) witty comebacks. To be excited about upcoming get-togethers with friends and family, and to actually plan for more than just the day in front of me. To think about the future without a pit it my stomach. It’s like I’ve allowed the part of my mind that is usually focused on Maddie’s 1p36 diagnosis to focus instead on the present moment. It’s been super refreshing.
If you’ve followed the blog, it may seem natural to you that I’m having this type of “high” right now, as our family recently came back from a short get-away. Doesn’t everyone feel better after a time of rest? And I’d be lying if I said that the vacation didn’t play a part in this. But I don’t think that’s the real reason for my change of heart.
You see, several weeks ago I got an itch to start doing a little bit more research on 1p36, and to make better connections with the special needs community. I dove in headfirst, and did all the things that I’ve been avoiding:
I joined blogs and Facebook groups.
I downloaded audio books on Down Syndrome and other genetic conditions to listen to during my daily runs.
I researched support groups in our area, as well as non-profit organizations that focus on those with special needs.
In short, I bit off more than my mama heart could chew.
These are obviously all worthwhile pursuits that will likely benefit our family in the coming years. But I became consumed. I couldn’t enjoy our day-to-day activities with Maddie because I couldn’t stop focusing on what I was learning about the condition itself, as well as the lives of those affected. It was like every time I read something new, I went through Maddie’s diagnosis all over again. I was picturing her in every stage of life, and dealing with the traumas and hardships that I was reading about. And suddenly I didn’t only have our current worries of delayed milestones on my plate, but I had the worries of a lifetime to deal with.
If that’s not borrowing trouble, I don’t know what is.
I was reminded of a verse in Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Having time away forced me to take a break from all the research. Shifting my focus back to my present day versus everything I had been reading online has allowed me to get back to my resolution to celebrate Maddie more. My heart swelled with pride as I watched her interact enthusiastically with family friends over the past couple of weekends. And again when I heard her start to make a “K” sound when our Mose “Kitty” came near her last week. And yet a third time when she leaned in for the very first time to give me an open mouth wet kiss on my cheek yesterday.
I am grateful for the new-found connections that I’ve made, and as my heart will allow, I will slowly engage in events, research and discussions surrounding Maddie’s diagnosis. But I would encourage anyone who is feeling a little overwhelmed or hopeless to take a step back from all the time spent deep-diving online, and shift focus to real life. You might be surprised to see how it lightens your load.