when i was 17 years old, i wrote this goal in my senior yearbook:
find the perfect job, marry the perfect man, have two perfect children and live a perfect life.
it seemed simple enough.
and it was exactly what i wished would happen to me at that time.
i scribbled it down quickly, thinking good enough, and never really thought much about it again.
now, 19 years later, for some crazy reason, i can't get it out of my head.
what would make me choose to write that?
i could of written anything so why the quest for perfection?
that wasn't really me.
or was it?
looking back now, i see how shallow and narrow-minded i was.
i thought everyone should shop at macy's, drive a convertible, go to the prettiest college, date the guy who worshipped me, spend days tanning in the back yard, nights partying with my friends.
i did not think about people in need.
i did not think about poverty.
i did not think about orphans.
i did not think about the sick, the weak, the sad, the lonely, the empty, the dying.
i did not think much about God.
and honestly, i didn't think much about anything but myself.
i was living life for me, about me, the "perfect" life--the life i wanted and expected to be given to me.
even as a young bride and young mother, i still lived life for me.
but now it included me and my adorable two perfect children and my perfect husband.
it was easy, it was good, it was comfy.
and you all know what happened next.
my ben boy was born and ben was not "perfect".
i struggled with that for a long, long time.
i distinctly remember one day, a week or two after ben was born, and i was a zombie walking around the house, doing what needed to be done but with no intention or desire.
my dad, who is usually the calm and kind one, snapped at me.
"you need to get over this!" he snapped.
i was shocked.
"but dad," i pleaded, "he has down syndrome!"
"SO WHAT?!" he yelled. "SO WHAT?"
i remember staring at him while tears were pouring out of me and i felt so angry.
he didn't understand.
how could he?
HE didn't have a child with special needs!
HE didn't have to deal with this!
HE didn't get it.
my child was broken.
he could not be fixed.
now, as i relive that moment in my mind, i realize what i was really thinking while my dad snapped at me,
but dad, he's not worth the same as the others.
look at him, he doesn't belong with us.
this isn't what i signed up for, i only wanted healthy, normal children.
oh it sickens me.
the truth is a bitter drink to swallow.
but i want you to know this about me because it's important to understand these things to understand who i am now.
i am not this person anymore.
i actually can't even relate to her.
and i really can't relate to my 17 year old self.
looking back i am grossed out.
now, my biggest hope for my kids is that they aren't as shallow at 17 as i was--that they, out of their own personal relationships with people of all abilities, will have dreams much bigger than themselves.
so, to my 17 year old former self:
now you know that the things that were once important,
french buckets on the end of every pew,
the perfect sage green for the dining room,
matching outfits for the christmas card photos,
well they just aren't so important after all.
tonight as you snuggled a little boy with special needs,
giggled while he signed mommy, poppy and anna,
stroked his hair as he fought to stay awake and tickled your back,
listened as his breath slowed and his body relaxed,
cried as you watched the last of the early evening sun fade against his bedroom walls with you holding him close, knowing that he changed your life more than you ever wanted or ever could have dreamed possible,
these are the details of life that make it PERFECT.
and you, you lucky girl, are living it.